Wants Some Chicks
was a red hen. She was Farmer Berg's prize chicken. She laid
the biggest eggs of all. She laid them every day. And sometimes
she even laid two.
Peter Berg, the farmer's son, was proud of Henny. When he
brought the chickens their feed in the morning, he always
gave Henny an extra portion. She gave a special cluck when
she saw him.
Now Henny was unhappy. It was spring. It felt good to sit
on the eggs that she laid. But each morning Peter came and
took her egg away. He put it in a basket with the eggs from
the other chickens. Farmer Berg took the eggs in his truck
to the grocery store, where people came to buy fresh eggs.
Each day Henny grew unhappier. When Peter came to get the
eggs in the morning, she would not get up off her nest. He
had to reach under her to get her egg. Then she would flap
her wings and cluck angrily at him.
wonder what's wrong with Henny lately," Peter said to his
father. "She is acting funny. I think she wants to hatch some
can't do that," said Farmer Berg. "She is our best egg layer.
We need her eggs."
Peter felt sorry for Henny. He decided to help her. The next
morning, when he went to the chicken coop, he brought a handful
of feed right up to Henny's nest. He put his hand under her
to feel her new egg, but he did not take it. He just left
The next day, Peter did the same thing -- and the next and
the nest. Now there were four big eggs in Henny's nest. Henny
sat on them and kept them warm. Sometimes she reached down
and turned them over. She left them only when she was very
hungry or thirsty. And as soon as she had eaten, she went
right back and sat on her eggs again.
Farmer Berg said to his son, "Where are those big eggs that
Henny lays? I haven't seen any for a few days."
Peter did not say anything.
But then that afternoon, Farmer Berg went to clean out the
chicken coop and found Henny and her four eggs. "See what
you've done?" he said to Peter. "These eggs are spoiled now."
Angrily, he threw the eggs away.
Now Henny was really unhappy. She kept looking in her nest
for her eggs. She walked around the yard making crying noises.
Peter was sorry for her, but he was afraid to disobey his
father again. So he took Henny's new egg away each morning.
Henny found a little hole in the bottom of the fence around
the chicken yard. She tried to squeeze through it, but it
was too small. She tried to fly over the fence, but it was
too high. Then one day, Farmer Berg made a mistake. He left
the gate of the chicken yard open for a minute. Before he
could turn around, Henny dashed out through the gate.
Across the field Henny ran, clucking and squawking, while
Farmer Berg ran after her. In a moment she disappeared into
When Peter came home from school, he looked in the woods for
Henny. But he did not find her. She was hiding under some
thick bushes. She had made herself a nest, and she already
had one egg in it.
The first night in the woods, Henny was frightened. It was
dark, and there were all sorts of scary noises. But nothing
came near her. And the next morning she laid another egg in
During the day Henny scratched, around and found some seeds
and worms to eat. She found a little stream where she could
get a drink of water. But most of the time she sat on her
nest and kept her eggs warm. The next morning she laid another
egg. Now she had three.
Late that afternoon, Henny went to the stream to get a drink
of water. When she got back to the nest, she made a terrible
discovery. All her eggs were broken. A skunk had found her
nest and eaten all the eggs.
Poor Henny. Now she would have to start all over again. She
looked around and found a new place to make a nest. The days
went by, and soon there were four eggs in the new nest.
But the next night, a weasel caught Henny's smell. Quietly
he crept up to the nest. Henny did not even hear him until
suddenly he pounced on her. His sharp teeth were biting her.
Henny squawked and screeched. She beat at the weasel with
her wings and scratched him with her feet. He let go for a
second, and that was enough. Henny flew up to safety on a
tree branch. All the weasel had left was a mouthful of feathers
and a nest full of eggs.
The next morning Henny went back to the farm. Peter found
her outside the chicken yard when he went to get the eggs.
She was dragging one wing, and she had a big bare patch on
her breast, where she had lost her feathers. Peter picked
her up and ran to call his father.
Farmer Berg shook his head. "If she wants a family that badly,"
he said, "I guess we'd better let her have her way." A month
later there were tiny peepings in Henny's nest. Eight fluffy
chicks peeked their way out of their eggs. And they all grew
up to be champion egg layers, who laid almost as many eggs
as their mother Henny.
2013 The Silversteins