There once was a little red hen. This hen was hard working and industrious, always busy. She had 7 little chicks to feed. She lived on a farm with a lazy cat, a sleepy dog, and a big fat pig.
One day the hen found some wheat grains on the ground, carelessly dropped there by the farmer. “Who will help me plant this wheat?” she asked. “Not I!” said the lazy cat. Planting sounded like hard work, though the cat had no experience to draw that observation from, having never worked in her life. “Not I,” yawned the sleepy dog without even opening his eyes. Many years ago, the dog had chased off a burglar, and he had long before received his “well earned rest” and then some. “Not I!” grunted the big fat pig from his comfy mud wallow, never imagining his charming personality wasn’t the reason the farmer was fattening him up. “Then I will do it myself!” said the hen.
So she planted the wheat, all by herself. Every day, she watered the wheat and pulled weeds from the field, all by herself. Each time she worked, she first asked the others if they would help, and each time she got the same answer: “Not I.”
The time for harvest finally came! “Who will help me cut the wheat?” asked the hen. “Not I!” said the lazy cat. She was too busy lying in the sun, and cutting wheat sounded like hard work. “Not I,” yawned the sleepy dog without lifting his head. “Not I!” grunted the big fat pig with his mouth full of swill. “Then I will do it myself!” said the hen.
So she cut the wheat, all by herself. She threshed the wheat and ground it into flour, all by herself. Each time she worked, she first asked the others if they would help, and each time she got the same answer: “Not I.”
The hen was ready to bake bread from the flour. “Who will help me bake the bread?” asked the hen. “Not I!” said the lazy cat. “Not I,” yawned the sleepy dog. “Not I!” grunted the big fat pig. “Then I will do it myself!” said the hen.
So she mixed and kneaded, baked and cooled the bread, all by herself. The finished bread smelled and looked delicious. This attracted the attention of the lazy cat, the sleepy dog, and the big fat pig, who rushed to her side. “Who will now eat this bread?” asked the little red hen, her hungry chicks pecking the ground near her feet.
“NOT YOU!!” boomed a deep, loud voice. It was the farmer! He snatched the loaf from the startled hen’s wings. “Hen, you know how to plant and harvest, to grind and bake. The cat does not know how. She cannot bake for herself. She needs this bread more than you, as you can make more.” The farmer tore off a chunk and gave it to the cat, who nibbled at it with disgust, as there was no meaty taste.
The farmer continued, “Hen, you have never provided for the security of the farm. Long ago, the dog chased away a burglar. He deserves this bread more than you.” The farmer tore off another piece and gave it to the dog, who took it away to his shady spot and dropped it, soaked with slobber, as he went back to sleep.
“Hen, I want you to lay eggs,” the farmer said. “That is your purpose. My big fat pig here is meant for greater things!” The farmer gave a large piece of bread to the big fat pig, who dashed back to the mud and gobbled it with such speed that half of the bread broke into crumbs and fell, wasted, into the sty.
As he walked away from the astonished hen and her hungry chicks, the farmer laughed: “And the last piece is for me, since this farm doesn’t run itself!” The chicks began to cry, and the little red hen covered her beak with her wings, the words of the farmer still ringing in her ears: “NOT YOU!!“