In a red chicken coop there lived a Mama Hen. She sat on a clutch of eggs and one day they cracked, giving life to the chicks that came out. The chicks were tiny and covered with soft yellow fluff. Mama Hen kept them warm under her wings and brought grubs and worms for them to eat. The chicks grew and soon they all had feathers, all except one chick. He too grew, but in size only. He grew taller and plumper but not one feather grew on his body. Soon the chicks began to follow Mama Hen out of the coop and around the yard; all of them except for the one featherless chick who found it too cold to be out and about. He remained huddled in a corner, where he would wait for Mama Hen to bring him something to eat. As time went on, the young chickens would come and go. They spent many happy days scratching the dirt to find fat worms to eat, running in the sunny yard, drinking from the creek, and taking dust baths in the dry leaves under the trees. The featherless chicken had grown a big red comb on his head and had fine big feet. He was even beginning to crow in the mornings, for he was a young rooster. But his body remained covered in yellow down and he stayed in the coop all the time, stuffing his big body under Mama Hen’s wings at night to stay warm while he slept.
One day Mama Hen went out into the yard and spotted a big grasshopper. She pecked at it and it leapt away, so she followed it. It jumped and hopped and led her on a merry chase far away from the yard. When she finally caught it and turned to take it back to the coop to the young rooster, she realized that she did not know where she was. Mama Hen was lost. She tried finding her way home, but got further away instead. It was getting dark, so she flew up onto a branch and went to sleep wondering what would become of her son that night. Back at the coop the young rooster was hungry and cold and tired. The coop door was shut and he shivered in his corner alone. The next morning he asked his brothers and sisters if they would bring him something to eat, and they did. At night he asked them if he could sleep under their wings and they agreed. After a week had gone by, however, they told him that he had better start growing some feathers so that he could feed himself and sleep beside them, as it was very uncomfortable to hold his large body tucked under their wings. The young rooster was sad and missed his mother very much. When his brothers and sisters no longer brought him food, he decided that he would venture outside and see what happened.
On a fine sunny morning the young rooster let out a crow and hopped out of the coop. The grass was dewy and green and he began scratching and pecking and that kept him warm. He ran about in the sunshine and chased his brothers and sisters around the yard and it felt good. That evening, as he was going back into the coop, a big rooster invited him to sleep next to him on the top roost. So he tried to fly up, but having no feathers he had no choice other than to remain huddled in a corner down low. Another week or so went by in this way, and then one day everyone noticed something new about him: he was growing feathers. The rooster and his family and friends were all very excited. Once they had begun growing, it did not take long for his body to fill out with shiny bronze and gold feathers, and a fine shimmering green tail. Now he could fly up onto the high roost and sleep at night. He found a spot by the window, and that was where he slept.
Mama Hen was still wandering about, hiding from raccoons and foxes, trying to find her way back home. One day she saw the cat from the farm she lived on. She thought to herself that if she followed him, she might get back home. So she went flapping after the cat and sure enough, she found herself back in the yard she knew so well. Her first thought was for her young rooster, and she went right to the coop to find him. But he was gone. Mama Hen let out a cry and went running about the yard asking everyone if they had seen him. One of the hens told her that he was over by the compost heap. When she looked over there all she saw were two fine roosters. So she went to them and asked if they knew where her boy was. Imagine her surprise when one of the beautiful roosters flew at her and cried out,
“Mama you’re back!”
She had no idea who he was, but as she looked into his eyes she saw that this was her featherless chick!! That night the young rooster flew up to his spot on the roost and he called to his mother,
“Mama Hen, I’ve been saving you a spot up here beside me.”
From then on, Mama Hen slept in the red chicken coop right beside her finely feathered son on the roost, and from time to time they treated one another to fat, juicy worms and grubs.
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