Monday, 14 April 2014

The Tale of the Little Red Hen

A heartwarming parable of triumph over adversity, a happy story with a sad ending ...

Once upon a time, long long ago, the little red hen awoke in her shed, along with several thousand other birds ... it was survival of the fittest and she wasn't really the fittest, but today was her lucky day.  It was mid-afternoon (it was really hard to tell as night and day weren't apparent in the shed, where lights shone brightly day in and day out) and the little red hen was plucked unceremoniously from the nesting box which she had escaped to, for a bit of peace and quiet ...

Thank you Daily Mail

The farmer took her and 2 other inmates (carried by their feet, upside down, in a most undignified manner) through the doors, where a small crowd of people were gathered, waiting anxiously.  The 3 little hens, dazed and traumatised were put into a large dog cage (oh, the shame!) and placed into the back of a car, while money exchanged hands.  Their new life was beginning ...

They were driven over bumpy roads, and from the confines of their new prison, could see rooftops, trees and blue, blue skies.  Eventually they came to a stop and they were carried in the cage into a garden where their new home was awaiting them.

The cage door was opened, and the little red hens stayed huddled in one corner for quite a long while ... then one ventured out, closely followed by the next and eventually Florence (the little red hen who this story is all about) tentatively emerged and surveyed her surroundings.  She had only ever walked on hard concrete, and the feeling of warm, soft earth beneath her feet was a strange sensation.  There was so much space, no jostling, no noise, except the sweet sound of birdsong coming from the trees.

Florence was a very sorry sight ... she was by far the worse of the 3 birds.  She was thin and scrawny, her comb flopped sadly, her behind was red and bald from being pecked by the other chickens in the shed.  The colour red attracts chickens, and it wasn't long before her new housemates, Maudie (Attilla the Hen) and her sidekick, Mabel made poor Florence's life a misery by pecking the red areas and making her bleed, creating a cycle of torment.  Florence was confined to a separate area of the henhouse, and gradually, with good food and fresh air, she flourished and filled out and rejoined her friends, but I'm sure you know the saying, two's company, three's a crowd ... this certainly applied in the case of this little gang.

Florence, at rear, Mabel and then Maudie, Top Hen

The rescuers were richly rewarded every day with beautiful brown eggs, the yolks the colour of sunflowers, and much tastier than those bought in supermarkets! The girls laid so many eggs, they had to be given away ... there was just no stopping them ... Except there was ... about a year after their rescue the egg supply dwindled, and more or less stopped altogether, because, Dear Reader. battery hens are regarded as machines for the first 12 to 18 months of their lives, and this constant production takes its toll.

A brand new henhouse was bought and placed in the sunny back garden, an area familiar to the girls and they moved into their new retirement home, but still liked to visit their old home on a daily basis, just to check it was still there.  One day, during their checking out process, they saw to their horror that 3 shiny sleek young hussies had decided to squat in their old home ... oh the horror was unspeakable! They ran to the kitchen door, banging on it with their beaks to alert the rescuers and tell them of this terrible event ... this went on for some time.

One sad morning, poor Maudie passed away, it was very sudden, she was Top Hen and leader of the little pack ... Mabel mourned her best friend, but Florence (who was secretly relieved) took her under her wing and they became bosom buddies, until Mabel joined Maudie, under Grandad's peony.

The rescuers had to make a decision now, integrate Florence with the 'squatters' or let her live her days out quietly and probably very lonely ...

Florence was having none of it, and flew onto the gate, in no-man's land, beyond which was her old home, and thought to herself  "if you can't beat them, join them" ... and so she did! Well my Dear reader, the change in Florence was remarkable, as the oldest and most venerable of this Hen Party, she became Top Hen and her leadership was legendary.  Always first out of the run in the morning, the others following her lead and instruction.  No-one dared touch food before Florence, they had to await her permission ...

And then there were three ... Florence had outlived her 2 counterparts, and one of the flighty young birds! By now she was about six years old, which is a good age for a rescue bird, considering the hard life she had had before.

Florence went to the big henhouse in the sky on Saturday after a short illness ... I am writing this story looking out of the window at my Dad's peony, which is just beginning to bud, the final resting place of a very fine hen ... she is sadly mourned by Audrey and Marilyn, who are finding it difficult to make a decision of their own and life has lost a little bit of colour as our hen flock of two is now monochrome. I am missing my little redhead who always ran to me in her mad fashion, at the slightest rustle of a bread bag.

Goodbye, sweet Florence ... Leader of Hens!

The moral of this story is that the underdog may one day reign supreme ...

Lots of Love, Claire xxx


  1. How sad and lovely both at the same time - lovely that you have gave her a happy life to the end. Dom have finally agreed to a couple of chickens in our small patch - where do you find battery hens to adopt?
    Best wishes

  2. So good that they found such a lovely home to live their final days in ... M x

  3. Oh bless, but what a lovely life they led in the end.

  4. As Jenny said above what a great and sad story at the same time. I am glad that your hens have had such a great life with you and that they have all found their rightful place in life at different times. I wonder who will find their way to be leader of the pack now! Thank you for sharing Florence's story with us. xx

  5. Not quite the 'chicken fix' I was looking for today but, a beautiful, touching story of one well-loved hen and her friends. R.I.P Florence xxx
    This story would be great on the British Hen welfare Trusts' blogzine, why don't you send it to them?
    Sandie xxx

  6. What a fab story - when I saw the title I thought it would be to do with the Ladybird book! But so much better was this tale - thanks for sharing:) x

  7. Ex battery hens do make good pets as well as egg providers. I used to keep some in with the banties when I lived on a farm. Happy days that may just come again once I move.

  8. Ah yes, I'm tearful if I'm honest but what a lovely story! What a happy well deserved life they had in the end. Goodbye to Florence, she sounds a character! XX

  9. Sweet lucky little Florence ... I think I need a tissue. You tell a good tale Claire. Even though the original hens are all gone, I'll bet you find some more chicken tales down the road. Perhaps another little red hen is calling your name? I love that she rests under "Dad's peony" ... so sweet ;) Wendy xox

  10. What a touching but again lovely story. I can imagine you miss her but at the same time it must be a consolation that she had a good life with you. Thanks for sharing, Anita xo

  11. That brought a tear to my eye. But sounds like despite of her beginning of a new life she new she would be happy. She sounded like the most wonderful pet any one could ask for.
    Julie xxxxxxxx

  12. What happy lives they had in your care, where the only worry in life was the pecking order.

  13. And may she rule the roost wherever she is. She sounds like a sweet little hen.

  14. How wonderful that those poor battery hens found a good home with your family.

  15. Claire, what a lovely story.( I have tears in my eyes just reading this post BTW). I would love to rescue some battery hens myself and maybe one day if we move and acquire a bigger garden I hope I will. Bless them all, I wonder what must have been going through their minds? You have made my day.XX

  16. What a wonderful story. I image your hens were thrilled to live out their days in your lovely garden. It must have seemed so peaceful after their lives as battery hens.
    Ali xx

  17. LOVE this true life story of dear Florence and the girls..I actually feel really privileged to have met them all, each time i visit!
    Goodness they have had a beautiful fairy tale life so different from their horrid start..
    And I love that Florence now rests under your dear Dads Peony, perfect...
    I have read not once but twice..
    Made me smile and then made me get a tear in my eye..
    Bless dear Florence leader of the pack!
    Hugs and Easter blessings...
    Maria x

  18. Such a sweet tale with a tearful ending. Lovely to know that she had a longer and happier life than she would have had without you. Happy Easter. Philippa xx

  19. awwww, thank you for telling us Florence's story, she was one lucky hen to be picked up that day even if it was by the feet!!

  20. Hi Claire,
    Such a moving story! My four rescue birds are all gone now and the chicken run stands empty and starting to overgrow with weeds. Still, I had them nearly two years and know I gave them a better life than they ever would have had in the battery cages. Sadly, I just don't have the time to devote to any replacements now with the brewery and everything else. But I do miss the eggs! xx Julie xx

  21. How beautifully you wrote about Florence, and what a happy life she led in the end.

  22. I loved reading this story! Rest in peace Florence!
    Wishing you and yours a happy Easter! <3

  23. P.S - I`m now following you, so I won`t miss any of your beautiful posts! :) <3

  24. Aw Claire, this brought tears to my eyes - you write so beautifully and thank for for sharing this story with us. It breaks my heart when humans are so horrible to these precious wee chookies - bless you for rescuing them and giving them a happy home. Hugs xx

  25. Ahh such a lovely story ..just shows that if you are patient enough your day will come..I am glad Florence enjoyed being the"special one" at last... bless
    Happy Easter Weekend
    Thea xx

  26. Brilliant post Claire, what a wonderful tribute to a clearly great hen x

  27. Oh Claire what a fabulously entertaining piece of writing .... I don't usually like to read stories with a sad ending but I agree she had a good, long life ... I love hens, they have such great personalities ....
    Happy Easter ...Gail x

  28. If I could, I would be giving you a round of applause whilst typing my comment to you! Well done you for giving such a fine home to an otherwise poor and sorry existence to these poor battery hens. One day when I move, I plan on owning a large plot of land again and giving homes to these 'machine' birds and with your beautiful writing you have encapsulated what they must have felt when they touched real earth for the first time. I applaud you Claire! Have a wonderful Easter, especially with the wonderful eggs your babies produce and also to look at the final resting place of some very happy hens. xx

  29. What a beuatiful tribute to a very beautiful girl.
    We have 4 rescue hens, I would love to get some more and I will one day. The conditions that they ahve to live in really is awful, it amazes me how it is still allowed. At least you gave Florence a new start in life, the underdog is always the best :) x x x x

  30. What a sweet and touching story. So glad you gave them a peaceful, happy life and how touching they now rest under Day's peony. Pretty little hens xxxxxx

  31. What a sweet and touching story. So glad you gave them a peaceful, happy life and how touching they now rest under Day's peony. Pretty little hens xxxxxx


I love to hear what you think of my ramblings and value all your comments ... I will try and get back to you, but am sorry if I don't always manage this ... sometimes real life just gets in the way! Claire xxx