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The Garden and the Mother Hen
Judi Tabler color mug

Our garden is beginning to produce. If I were not married to a “gardener” I would not enjoy such a variety of garden delights. No, I would plant a few tomato plants and that would be it. I do realize how hard he works in the garden. and although I don’t get out there and root in the veggies, I share them with others, cook, and can them.  

The child’s story of the Mother Hen applies here; so many principles covered; laziness, feeling entitled, sharing responsibilities. 

Once there was a Mother Hen and her chicks. They lived at the edge of a big field with their friends, Duck, Cat, and Goat. One day, Mother Hen found some wheat seeds lying in the field. 

She thought, “I can plant these to grow some wheat, and we could make delicious bread. Who wants to help me with the seeds?”

“I will,” said Duck, “I will,” said Cat, “OK,” replied Goat. The next morning at planting time, only the duck and her chicks showed up. “I think Cat said he was too tired; he was out catching rats all night,” explained Duck. Mother asked, “Where is Goat? He said he would come too.”

“Well, never mind, we will plant the seeds ourselves”, said the chicks.

Duck arrived late but he did come to help. Duck was so clumsy, she spilled more seeds than she planted. (She didn’t know how to work, obviously.) Soon it was time to harvest the wheat. Mother Hen asked again, “Who will help me cut the wheat?”

“We will,” replied Duck, Cat, and Goat. When Mother and chicks gathered to cut the wheat, the others sauntered in late. Cat wandered in when they were almost finished; Duck worked too slow, and Goat ate half the wheat he was supposed to grind.

When it was time to make the dough, the same thing happened. But Mother Hen and her babies kneaded it until it was ready to put in the oven. A delicious aroma began to fill the field.

Soon it was time to eat and everyone could not wait to eat the bread. The chicks complained, “You all can’t eat the bread. We all did the work; that’s not fair!” But Mother explained, “Duck did help, but she was down at the river eating bugs that would have spoiled the wheat. Cat was out catching rats that would have eaten the grain in the night. And the goat? Well, all we need is to ‘understand’ the Goat.” (Today’s answer for everything!)

So, all together, they shared the loaf they made, and it was the most amazing bread they had ever tasted in their entire life. Cat said, “I’ll keep eating rats, but I’ll try to show up on time from now on, too.” Duck said, “I’m not very good at planting seeds, but I think I could grind the wheat pretty well.” Goat said, “I can knead the dough with my hooves, but you better all keep an eye on me so I don’t eat it all.”

They all shared the loaf, but the lesson was that everyone needs to do his part, even if it looks unrelated to the task at hand. “This is great,” said the chicks. “The more we work together, the more we can all enjoy.”

And that, my friends, is how I share in the garden labor. 

Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached