The Absent Hen

September 14, 2009 at 1:43 am (Godly Living, Homemaking, stories) (, , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

ist2_3179230-mother-hen

Once upon a time there was a very beautiful hen, the pride and joy of the farmyard. Always she had an encouraging word for everyone, a smile, a pat on the back. Watching her from the farmhouse window one spring morning, the farmer thought to himself, “How wonderful it would be to have a whole brood of chicks just like my little hen!” This goal in mind, he set her on a soft feather-lined nest.

The little hen was so excited when the first egg appeared, warm and brown beneath her. It was so smooth and round and perfect. She vowed she would raise it to be a perfect chicken, to scratch and cluck and lay eggs for the farmer.

Soon her nest was filled with eight beautiful eggs, each one seeming more special than the last. Clucking delightedly to herself, the hen would settle in at night to think about all the things she must do the next day. And always, always she had an encouraging word for everyone around the farm-yard.

Then tragedy struck. Not the little hen, but Old Mrs. Goose woke up one morning to find all of her eggs broken, their jagged edges pricking up out of the hay. As she wept, the little hen was right there to comfort her. She scratched up corn to bring Old Mrs. Goose and sent her sympathetic notes.

Not long later an old duck came down sick and the little hen rushed to her side and stayed by her night and day for three days until she was well.

When she returned to her nest she discovered a terrible thing: one perfect, round brown egg was missing. Where could it have gone? How could it have been taken? She had loved those eggs and cared for them and sought the best for them. And she had left them warm and comfortable and well-provided for, hadn’t she? What more could eggs need? Sadly she shook her head and settled back onto her nest of seven.

The little hen visited all the other hens. Some of them had nests, some did not. All of them were delighted to see her. But one old hen, glad as she was to see the little hen, dared not even get off her nest to visit. “Pardon me, Little Hen,” she said gently, “but I’m afraid my eggs might grow cold.”

“What a pity,” clucked the little hen. “She is such a capable hen and she could be doing so much good for others. Her eggs will keep.”

When she settled back onto her nest that night, there was a frightening crash. One of the perfect round, brown eggs had gone bad and exploded underneath her! All that remained was an empty, shattered shell and a nauseating, lingering stench.

“This is terrible!” moaned the little hen, holding her nose as tears came to her eyes. “It must have been a bad egg to begin with! I did everything I knew to do!”

“What a tragedy!” said all the barn animals, sadly. “That hen is such a good hen, so kind to everyone, so eager to help and she has such a fine nest of beautiful eggs. And she STILL gets to much done!”

But the farmer said, “I wish that hen would stay on her eggs.”

When two sheep decided to take the plunge and get married, there was the hen overseeing the festivities. The cows complimented the lovely hay arrangements. The goats thanked her for the lovely things to eat. The barn fowl cheered her efforts and threw grain on the newlyweds as they rushed out to the pasture. The rejoicing continued late into the night.

During the reception a tiny chirp came from one of the round, brown eggs. The little hen could not hear it over the sound of music and dancing. A tiny crack appeared in the side of one of the eggs as a little chick began to peck its way out of the shell—too early! Soon it had shaken off the pieces of shell and began searching for its mother. No one was there to tell the little chick that a nesting box is too high for a little chick to climb out of. It tumbled from the nesting box and lay still. Tired but happy the little hen walked slowly back to her nest. In the hay below she discovered the tiny, stiff form of her dead baby chick.

Again the barnyard mourned. “How can this happen to such a good hen?”

Not one of the warm, brown eggs ever hatched.

A slithering black snake ate one while the little hen was attending a first-freshening cow at her calving. A raccoon stole another while she was chatting with Mr. Turkey over afternoon tea. During the late frost, one froze and cracked while the little hen was sitting on Mrs. Duck’s eggs for her. One cracked and broke late one night as she turned them after returning home from a visit. She was just too tired and was a bit rougher than she’d meant to be.

The last egg was picked up and placed in a basket by the farmer’s daughter who was collecting abandoned pullet eggs for a picnic.

When the hen began to lay again, the farmer quietly instructed his daughter to pick up the little hen’s eggs. He sighed as he spoke, “No use letting that little hen keep eggs she won’t stick around to hatch.”

The hen hardly seemed to notice that her nest was always empty. She was so busy ministering to the other barn animals that she even stopped laying eggs at all.

The other animals watched in admiration as she fluttered about here and there, doing this and that, always with an encouraging word and a smile or a pat on the back. “What an amazing hen! She’s the best of her kind!”

But the farmer said sadly to his daughter as they watched the little hen scratching in the dirt, “Not much worth in a hen that won’t hatch eggs. Pretty little thing, and so cheerful and full of energy, but doesn’t do what she’s made to do. Guess I won’t be getting any fine chickens from her. She means well, but her focus is all wrong. See, those other animals? They’ve got me. She does so many things that are nice—but don’t have to be done. Times are hard sometimes, but really, they can get along without her. In the grand scheme of things there are lots of other animals that could pitch in and do what she does to help. But not a creature in this barn can hatch her eggs.”

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2 Comments

  1. Vanessa said,

    Hmm . . . good lesson to remember!

  2. Kaylene said,

    wow, this is so relevant in our day and age! I have seen this occur in many wives’ lives whose husbands are in the ministry as well as many other scenarios. Even daughters and sisters can be guilty of the same.

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