Many Hands Make Light Work

Reader Contribution by Lindsay
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This is a collection of stories and fables, some true, some fictional, and some a mixture of both, that will entertain everyone and anyone who has a little Grit! Re-told by Lindsay Hodge of Haven Homestead.

Photo by Adobe Stock/Riko Best

Many Hands Make Light Work (How the Little Red Hen Finally Got Some Help)

Millie stood at the edge of her field, dreaming of the delicious bread that she would make from the golden wheat that drooped its heavy heads and swayed in the wind. She had worked hard to get here. Millie had chosen just the right kind of wheat, prepared the ground, planted the seeds and nurtured the precious plants for months, all on her own. It was a lot of work. Especially for a hen. She was tired, but she was proud of the work that she had been able to accomplish. She just wished that she could have someone to share it with.

It wasn’t like she didn’t ask for help. When she asked Pete the Pig to help her pick the seed, he’d just snorted and said, “Not I.” Then he continued to wallow in his mud pit.

Millie asked Henry the Horse to help her plow the fields. It would have been short work for a horse his size, but he just whinnied, “Not I,” as he trotted off to the back field to play with Rover. Rover and Henry couldn’t be bothered with work when there was playing to be done.

Millie asked Gander and Goose to help water and weed, but they had six new goslings to worry about. They had said, “Not I, but I wish I could.”

So Millie just worked. She worked harder than any hen had ever worked before, and just look at what she had accomplished! Now, it was time to harvest the brilliant crop. All morning, she had been clucking to the other hens about how wonderful it would be to work in her fields, and eventually taste the delicious bread that would come from her hard work. She went on and on about the bread. “The best part is going to be eating it!” assured Millie. When the sun had just crested the hill, Millie took her leave of scratching in the run to work on the wheat. When she arrived in the field she stood there for a moment to contemplate the wonder of it all.

The sun rose higher in the sky, and with her sickle in claw, Millie went to work. She was about half-way down the first row when she noticed Gloria and Ruth standing at the edge of the field. The two hens looked as if they weren’t sure what to do. Millie raised one wing in a salute and hollered, “Hello my friends! What can I do for you?”

“Well,” said Gloria, “We actually wanted to ask what we could do for you.”

Millie just looked at the pair. Should she ask for help? Once she had explained all that there was to do, everyone else had said, “Not I.” She was afraid to ask anymore.

Ruth clucked and scratched a moment, and then she said, “We would like to try some of this bread that you are so excited about, and we thought you might like a little help with preparing it.”

That was all Millie needed to hear. “Well, come on over. I’ll show you how to bundle this wheat.” And with that, the three little hens got to work cutting, bundling and stacking. They sang together as they worked, and by the time the sun had begun to set, they had finished the whole field.

“It would have taken me three days to do all that by myself!” clucked Millie.

“It was hard, but it was fun!” laughed Gloria.

“Indeed! What are we going to do tomorrow?” asked Ruth.

“Tomorrow we will thresh the wheat. If we have enough time, maybe we can even grind a little bit and make our first loaf of bread!”

It was hard to go to sleep that night. The three hens clucked with joy over the possibilities that tomorrow’s work might bring. All of the other hens in the roost were annoyed at all the fuss the three were making, and maybe just a little bit curious.

Okay, they were a lot curious. Which is why, when Millie, Ruth, and Gloria took off for the fields the next morning, the whole flock joined them. In no time at all, the wheat had been threshed and the straw was stacked neatly in the barn. It took two shakes of a lamb’s tail for Millie and the other hens to grind some wheat into flour and get a loaf rising.

The flock scratched around and talked as they waited for the bread to bake. They were having such a great time working together.

The bread was turning a beautiful golden brown, and the delicious smell drifted from one corner of the farm to another. Pete the Pig’s stomach growled. Hank and Rover had to stop mid-gallop once the scent reached their noses. Gander and Goose and their wee goslings even managed to waddle up to the house. The hunger-inducing scent brought the whole farm to the kitchen window.

“Mmmm-mmmm!” bellowed Pete. “That smells mighty delicious! Do you think you could spare a slice for me?” Millie and the other hens started in surprise.

“Us too!” exclaimed Rover and Henry.

“It smells so delicious,” complimented the geese.

Millie was a little bit ruffled. How could she be expected to share her bread when they weren’t willing to share the work? She bristled and clucked for a minute, but who could be upset for long with the heartwarming smell of delicious bread in the oven. Besides, Millie had a plan.

“I’m so sorry folks! We only have enough for us hens today. We can make some more later, but it will take some time to grind enough flour for all of you. It might take a few days. And besides we have to get another field planted. That is, unless you want to help.”

Millie laid out her plan for everyone to work together, all the while slathering some fresh butter on the homemade bread she had just pulled from the oven. She passed the slices around to the other hens, and took the last one for herself. The other animals left the hens to enjoy their bread, and took their hungry stomachs home, eager to work for some of their own.

The next morning, without any ado, Millie had all the help she could ask for, and boy was she glad for it. Pete was in charge of separating out the best seeds to sow for the next harvest. He snorted and snuffed and separated the seeds into two piles, one to grind and one to plant.

Hank and Rover plowed the field and planted the seeds. Father Gander and Mother Goose had their goslings operating the flour mill, and the hens all worked on baking delicious loaves of bread.

Millie watched her friends working and playing together and having a grand time. She knew that she could do it all on her own. She had done it before, but as she stood there watching her friends working together, she thought to herself, “This is how it should be.” And it is.

The moral of this story is:
Don’t be a shirk,
If you want the perk,
Then always remember:
Many hands make light work!

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