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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Outstanding (04/21/11)

TITLE: Jen the 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)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Noel Mitaxa 04/29/11
A very interesting para(llela)ble, and I loved the last line.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/29/11
You did an excellent job of "updating" a parable for a very enjoyable read.
Beth LaBuff 05/03/11
Oh this is excellent. I love how you combined two stories. Perfect for children (and adults) to understand the meaning behind the parable. Your last line made me smile. I love it! This is beyond creative!
Lisa Johnson05/05/11
This was an outstanding submission on the topic of "outstanding". I, too, loved the new take on a favorite parable.
Margaret Kearley 05/05/11
Excellent - what a great interpretation of the parable. Many congrats on your placing.
Ann Grover05/05/11
Reminiscent of the little red, but with an outstanding eternal truth. This would be a lovely kids book; I can already see the illustrations. Congratulations!
Amanda Brogan05/05/11
This clever mix of a children's tale and a classic parable makes for a delicious little story. Very well done! (The parable of the talents is one of my favorites. :) )
Carol Penhorwood 05/05/11
Beyond creative! Just....Outstanding! Would love to read this to my grandchildren!
Laury Hubrich 05/05/11
Congratulations!!! Another EC:) Wonderful story!
Yvonne Blake 05/05/11
Excellent! (no wonder you earned an EC)

It combined two familiar stories and put its own twist into it. Kids will love the repeated words, especially "Whatever!"
Loren T. Lowery05/06/11
Congratulations, Sharlyn! Enjoyed your fable immensely. In addition to the Bible reference it reminded me of Orwell's "Animal Farm". All very profound lessons yet some, like Puddles, never seem to learn no matter how well-told the story might be. Nice to see your work recognized here.
Bonnie Bowden 06/15/11
What a wonderful retelling of the parable in Matthew. I loved your unforgetable characters. It will warm the hearts of children and adults alike.

I hope this story can one day be illustrated and made into a children's book. It would be a classic.