"Billie! Hurry! Hold that Wheat Sack from underneath! I can see it spilling!" the miller called out from the distant gristmill.
"Coming!" Billie, the miller’s child, hollered back and grabbed the bottom of the jute bag. A single Seed dropped to the ground.
It was an early morning for the Little Red Hen as she walked around the yard picking up worms. There were fewer bugs today. Clucking and pecking, the Little Red Hen thought of her baby chicks. She had to feed them back at the hen yard. So, she wandered a little further.
She passed the Pretty Grey Cat snoozing on the porch rail. The Silly Brown Mouse scurried past her in a rush. And as the Little Red Hen came to the sty where the Sleepy Pink Pig laid sprawled out in the sun, she noticed a teeny-tiny something wiggling in the distance.
A worm, perhaps?
She crossed out onto the road beyond the wooden fence. As she pecked her way over, she looked down at what she thought might be a worm.
It seems like a worm, she thought. However, this “worm” was not wriggling at all, and the air was blowing it over the place. She plucked it up with her beak to give it a taste.
But this was no worm!
The Little Red Hen couldn't be sure what it was, so she brought the mysterious thing back to the farm with her.
As she wandered passed the front porch of the farmhouse, she saw the farmer talking to the local miller. The Hen tried her best to cluck by without them noticing her.
But before she knew it, the Silly Brown Mouse had ruined her plans! The farmer and the miller turned around just as the Mouse went dashing out loudly from the barn—with tin cans falling everywhere. They noticed the Hen immediately.
"Looks like that Little Red Hen of yours has something! Maybe a seed? Good thing the tear in that bag earlier today won't make for a total waste," the miller chuckled as she handed a small bag of flour to the farmer.
A Seed thought the Little Red Hen.
Back in the hen yard, she fed her chicks the bugs she had found. The Hen looked at the Wheat Seed and then again at her babies. They were chirping for more food.
She knew someone must plant the Seed in the ground. She also knew that she had to find more worms for her hungry chicks. What was she to do?
From her yard, she could see the Cat sleeping, the Mouse running around, and the Pig sunbathing. The Little Red Hen clucked her way to the porch and called out, "Who will plant this Seed?"
The Cat opened one eye and yawned: "Not I."
"Not I!" shouted the Mouse before scurrying off again.
The Pig said, "Not I," after sprawling across a pile of straw.
"I will then!" replied the Little Red Hen.
And she planted the Seed in the ground.
The summer was long and hot. The Hen spent her mornings tending to the Wheat instead of searching for worms. She still managed to keep her children fed.
The porch rail grew too hot for the Cat to lounge. The tin cans that the Mouse loved to hide in became rusted. And the Pig preferred the shade these days.
The Wheat grew and grew and grew. The Little Red Hen knew someone had to harvest it. The Stalk was large, and the grain was ready. She also knew that her babies missed the many worms they usually ate! What was she to do?
From beside the Stalk, she called out, "Who will cut this Wheat?"
The Cat peaked her head out from under the porch and stretched lazily: "Not I."
The Mouse came up from a hole in the ground and hollered, "Not I!"
The Pig moseyed out from inside her pen and grumbled, "Not I…"
" I will then!" replied the Little Red Hen.
And she cut the Wheat.
In the hot sun, she wobbled towards the workbench to find the farmer, the miller, and Billie.
Billie noticed the impressive size of the Wheat Stalk swaying in the distance and handed the Little Red Hen the perfect sickle from the farmer's set of tools.
She thanked the child and returned to her plot.
As she cut the Wheat and laid it on the ground to be separated and bagged, her little chicks clucked and chirped and peeped.
At first, they wanted worms, but now they just dearly missed their mother!
The Little Red Hen grew sad and worried. She knew someone must winnow the Wheat for the mill. She also knew that her hungry babies were now missing her company. What was she to do?
From the pile of Wheat beneath her, she called out, "Who will thresh this Wheat?"
"Not I," the Cat murmured.
"Not I!" the Mouse sputtered.
"Not I…" the Pig mumbled.
Stunned by the sight of the Wheat before her and the sounds of her chicks cooing, she let out a long sigh and finally replied, "I will then."
She gathered more bugs, fed her babies, and laid them down for a long afternoon nap.
And then she threshed the Wheat.
In the hot summer sun, she looked down at her day's work. She had filled one jute Sack with ripe Wheat Seeds. She called out with hope, "Who will carry this Wheat Sack to the mill for the miller to grind into flour?"
"Not I!" the Cat, the Mouse, and the Pig shouted in unison.
“I will then," she replied.
And she carried the Wheat to be ground.
At the same time, Billie had been running up and down the road in front of the farm. Luckily for the Hen, Billie noticed how tired she looked from trudging the Sack around the yard. Billie asked, "Can I take this to my mother's mill and bring the flour back to you?"
The Little Red Hen thanked the child and returned to her hen yard. With the extra time she had, she found fat and juicy worms for her chicks to enjoy! They were so happy to see their Mother Hen! They napped the day away.
Tired from all her work, it was not until the crack of dawn the next morning that the Little Red Hen awoke. She saw the bag of milled Wheat resting against the porch steps from Billie.
She knew this would be a tiring day of taking care of her chicks and baking Bread, so she got right to work.
She had never made Bread before. A recipe is what she needed. But what she wanted most was some help!
The Little Red Hen walked into the center of the farmyard and called out, "Who will make this Bread?"
"Not Iiiiiiiii" the Cat, the Mouse, and the Pig sang. They had grown so accustomed to saying the phrase that they had begun to harmonize it in their spare time.
While the other barn animals danced and sang, the Little Red Hen replied, "I will then."
And she made the Bread.
Amidst the changing leaves and crisp autumn air, smells of the fresh baking Bread lofted across the yard. Sensing the sweet aromas, the other animals swayed happily back and forth. They began to sing.
The Red Hen found it difficult not to dance along with glee. Although she was tired, she was also very excited to eat the yummy Bread.
As she was removing the most delicious looking loaves from the oven, the other animals moved in closer. The Hen looked over at her chicks. They were wiggling and wobbling to the sounds and smells of a lively farm.
"Who will eat this bread?" she asked.
"Iiiiiii wiiiiiiiilllll!" sang the animals. The Pretty Grey Cat flicked her tail. The Silly Brown Mouse jumped for joy, his whiskers vibrating. The Sleepy Pink Pig rolled happily in the dust.
The Little Red Hen carried the fresh Bread to the hen yard, with the Cat, the Mouse, and the Pig trailing behind her. As she passed the wood fence near the road, she motioned Billie to grab one of the loaves to take home. Then, before she entered the hen yard to her chicks, she turned to the animals and replied:
"No, I will!"
And she did.
From that day forward, the Cat, the Mouse, the Pig, and the Hen got together to make the autumn Bread. Since they now shared the work, they had lots of time to dance and sing and share yummy meals.
My name is Tasha Guenther. I currently live in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, while I finish my Ph.D. in Cultural Studies with a concentration in digital cultures at McMaster University. I am an avid academic essay/book chapter writer, but I also enjoy writing short stories and non-fiction pieces. You can read more of my DLTKsCrafts work here!
Alongside my learning, studying, and thinking about digital platforms and critical theory, I appreciate long conversations with close friends, reading poetry, and taking photos of my cat. Learn more about me here or connect with me on my Instagram, Twitter, VSCO, and Facebook accounts.