Friday, June 3, 2011

Jen Hen and Her Fine Friends

Jen Hen and Her Fine Friends
by Sharlyn Guthrie

Jen, the little red hen, had big ideas. She was preparing to raise another batch of chicks, but first she had to ensure that her fields would be taken care of. Ever since Jen amazed her friends with that famous first crop of wheat, they had come around to her way of thinking –well, some of them had, anyway.

“Friends, I will be pursuing family interests for the next few months,” Jen announced one morning in April, “I won’t be able to raise wheat this year. Who will raise it for me? “

“I will,” said Digsby Dog.

“I will,” said Claus Cat.

“Whatever,” said Puddles Pig.

“Thank you, Digsby. “Due to your enthusiastic response I will give you five acres,” and with her wing Jen gestured toward a large bag of seed.

“Claus, you pack a punch for your size. I will give you two acres,” and with her wing Jen gestured toward a medium sized bag of seed.

“Puddles, I sense that you have a bit of an attitude. Still, I am giving you one acre. See what you can do with it,” and with her wing Jen gestured toward a small bag of seed.

Jen then disappeared into the hen house where she began feathering her nest, and each of her friends headed off toward the field –well, two of her friends, anyway.
Digsby and Claus got right to work, plowing their fields and then planting their wheat seed. Puddles stuffed her bag of seed behind a loose barn board and then snuffled through the muck, searching for a snack.

By mid-May Jen was seen bustling about the barnyard. She had her wings full with twelve baby chicks to care for, but sometimes she caught sight of her friends. Well, not Digsby so much. Most of his day was spent in the field. Claus went right to work each morning, but could be seen every afternoon napping in the haymow. And Puddles? Well, she rolled in the mud, basked in the sun, and grew a little plumper each day.

By August Jen’s chicks were nearly grown, but she was still busy trying to keep them out of trouble. She was ever so grateful for her hard-working friends. Soon the wheat would be harvested, and Jen could almost taste the delicious wheat bread that she, her chicks, and her friends would enjoy –well, two of her friends, anyway. “Who is ready to harvest the wheat?” Jen asked them.

“I am,” said Digsby.

“I am,” said Claus.

“Whatever,” said Puddles.

Digsby and Claus harvested their wheat and took it to the mill to be ground into flour. When they returned Jen called her friends together again. “Who wants to report on their harvest?” she asked.

“I will,” said Digsby.

“I will,” said Claus.

“Whatever,” said Puddles.

Jen smiled and nodded at Digsby.

“I planted five acres, and I have returned with five hundred bags of flour,” Digsby reported.

“Outstanding!” exclaimed Jen. “You have done so well, I will give you even more to plant next year.”

“I planted two acres, and I have returned with two hundred bags of flour,” reported Claus.

“Fantastic!” said Jen, “You have done well. Next year I will give you more to plant, also.” Jen turned her attention to the pig. “How many bags of flour do you have, Puddles?”

“You expected too much of me, Jen. I don’t do well under pressure, and I never could have made you happy, anyway. But at least I still have the seed you gave me.” Puddles pulled her seed from behind the barn board, but the sack caught on a nail and the seed fell into the muck.

“You lazy pig!” Jen clucked, “If you were truly a friend you would have at least given your seed to someone else to plant. Now the seed is ruined and your entire acre is a weed patch. I would call you good for nothing, but I have heard rumors that you have grown so fat you will soon be taken to market, so perhaps you are good for something, after all. Your acre will go to Digsby, the most responsible, faithful friend of all.”

And so it was that the aroma of baking bread taunted Puddles the following afternoon as she was loaded up and hauled off to market. But Digsby, Claus, Jen and the twelve chicks feasted until their bellies ached, and that night they all dreamed of bacon.

(loosely based on Matthew 25:14-30)

I hope you enjoyed this twist on a parable and a folk tale. It won 3rd place for the topic "Outstanding" in the Faithwriters Writing Challenge a few weeks ago. My friend, Rick at Pod Tales and Ponderings is hosting today's Fiction Friday. I hope you'll stop by and follow links to other great stories.


  1. What a wonderful retelling of this parable for children! I love that Puddles the Pig's inaction has such serious consequences, but it is written in a way that will make children laugh.

  2. Great clincher at the end, all night they dreamed of bacon. Great retelling of the story of the talents.


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