The Little Red Hen

One day Little Red Hen was picketty pecketting at the ground when she came across the smallest worm she’d ever found, as she pecked away, she soon realised, this was not a worm of any shape or size.

 Little Red Hen

Adapted by Jules de Jongh

[title sequence-jingle with title]

Nanny Bea: Hello there, I’ve just come in from the garden. The hens will take over now. Removing brambles is tricky business, they’re so prickly but worth it for those blackberry treats. I pull off as many as I can and the hens eat the rest. They very easily stain so you must mind that they don’t get on your clothes oh, like I seem to have done here oh fiddle-de-dee!  

[wonderword jingle] Why so it is! Today’s WonderWord snuck into my greeting. It is of course [drum roll] fiddle-de-dee. It almost sounds like a song but really it’s a way to show that you are a bit annoyed, frustrated or finding something hard to believe. Oh fiddle-de-dee I’ve done it again, another blackberry stain to deal with after my neighbour Jules gets here with a…[knock knock knock].

Nanny Bea: Oh, who could that be?

Jules: Hi Nanny Bea.

Nanny Bea: Why I’m Nanny Bea!

Jules: Yes and I’m Jules with a story.

Nanny Bea: You most certainly are, come in dear, join us we’ve been expecting you.

Jules: Oh good because have I got a tale for you and of course some tea, bramble leaf tea.

Nanny Bea: To think I’ve been throwing my in the compost? Let me pop the kettle on for our tea and my blackberry stains (just a little pointer there) oh and I’ll remove my cardigan first (another bigger pointer there).  Do tell our listening friends a bit about your story.

Jules: Today you’ll hear the tale of a Little Red Hen who makes the most amazing discovery while picketty pecketting at the ground for worms. Are you ready for a story…

Nanny Bea: Yes please!!!

Jules: Okay then, The Little Red Hen adapted for radio

Little Red Hen lived by a bigger red barn. By day she’d wander around the barnyard picketty pecketting at the ground for worms. She loved them, plump, juicy worms, a treat for her and a must for her chicks, ‘cause she wanted them to grow big and strong. As soon as she found a worm, and after she had a little nibble herself,  she’d call out, ‘“chick, chick, chick, chick,’ and her fluffy, feathered flock would come scurrying along.

Oh they were a busy bunch of birds in what was otherwise a relatively quiet barnyard with the cat who would nap sprawled out by the barn door. When the cocky rat would swagger past, she’d do nothing more than open one eye, spy the rodent then resume her napping. And the pig in the neighbouring sty took no notice of them. He was occupied, eating, alwaaaays eating.

One day when Little Red Hen was picketty pecketting at the ground she came across the smallest worm she’d ever found, as she pecked away, she soon realised, this was not a worm of any shape or size. 

Carrying it about, she inquired of many as to what it might be. A passing owl passed on his wisdom, ’That specimen is a seed, a wheat seed to be precise, one would plant such a seed, and expect it to grow until ripe, whereby it would be ground into flour for which to make bread.’ 

Well that settled that, Little Red Hen knew this wheat seed must be planted but how was she to find the time, feeding her flock was busy work indeed so she eagerly asked of the others,

‘Please, will you plant this Seed?’

The others spoke in turn.

‘Not me,’ sneered the Rat, ‘though I’m sure that I could.’

‘Not me,’ purred the Cat, ‘to even think that I would!’

‘Not me,’ snorted the pig, ‘even though I probably should.’

‘Oh fiddle-de-dee,’ said Little Red Hen, ‘if not you then it must be me.’

And so she did.

The days passed as Summer carried on summering, and Little Red Hen carried on mothering, pickety pecketting at the ground in search of plump, juicy worms for her and her chicks. Meanwhile, the pig grew wider, the cat grew lazier and the rat grew cockier, all as the wheat grew taller and ready for harvest.  LIttle Red Hen caught site of the wheat, ripe and ready to be cut but how could she fit that in, with her forever foraging for food for her little chicks to eat, so yet again she hopefully asked of the others,

‘Please, will you cut this wheat?’

The others, once again spoke in turn. 

‘Not me,’ sneered the Rat, ‘though I’m sure that I could.’

‘Not me,’ purred the Cat, ‘to even think that I would!’

‘(snort) Not me,’ snorted the pig, ‘even though I probably (snort) should.’

‘Oh fiddle-de-dee,’ said Little Red Hen, ‘well if not you I guess it’s down to me.’

And so she did.

She rummaged through the barn until she found the farmer’s sickle and used it to chopitty, chop, chop all the wheat down. As she finished the last chop, the chicks began to protest, peep, peep, peeping for their mother’s attention. Farming and foraging was an enormous feat. The wheat needed threshing but her chicks needed her too. What ever would she do? So in a panic she asked the others,

‘Please, will you thresh this wheat?’

The others, as usual, spoke in turn.

‘Not me,’ sneered the Rat, ‘though I’m sure that I could.’

‘Not me,’ purred the Cat, ‘to even think that I would!’

‘(snort) Not me,’ snorted the pig, ‘even though I probably (snort) should.’

‘Oh fiddle-de-dee,’ said Little Red Hen, ‘if not you then that leaves it to me.’

And so she did.

Of course, she had her fluffy, feathered flock to feed first. Once fed it was nap time for the chicks so she nipped back to the wheat and threshed away.  Such an exhausting task, beating it until the bits of grain come loose. Still the work wasn’t done. Worn out, she piled it all up in a mound and begged of the others, ‘Please will you carry the wheat to the mill to be ground?’

The others, unsurprisingly spoke in turn.

‘Not me,’ sneered the Rat, ‘though I’m sure that I could.’

‘Not me,’ purred the Cat, ‘to even think that I would!’

‘(snort) Not me,’ snorted the pig, ‘even though I probably (snort) should.’

‘Oh fiddle-de-dee,’ said Little Red Hen, ‘if not you then once again it will be me.’

And so she did.

With a sack of wheat on her back she waddled off to a far away mill where they ground it into flour. Then with a sack of flour on her back she waddled home to what felt like an even farther away barnyard. But a mother’s work is never done so on the way she made sure to keep picketty-pecketting at the ground to catch some plump, juicy worms for her chicks to eat.

Once at the farm Little Red Hen collapsed in a heap, a sack of flour on one side, a pile of worms on the other. The chicks helped themselves before heading to bed. 

The next morning, even before the sun was fully awake, the cheeky chicks were peep, peep, peeping at the feet of Little Red Hen while the sack of flour lay silently beside her beg, beg, begging to be baked into bread. Little Red Hen was tired already so as a last resort to the others she said, ‘Please, will you bake the bread?” 

The others predictively spoke in turn. 

‘Not me,’ sneered the Rat, ‘though I’m sure that I could.’

‘Not me,’ purred the Cat, ‘to even think that I would!’

‘(snort) Not me,’ snorted the pig, ‘even though I probably (snort) should.’

‘Oh fiddle-de-dee,’ said Little Red Hen, ‘ if not you then of course it’s left to me.’

And so she did. 

Little Red Hen had often watched in wonder as the farmer made her own bread. She never imaged she’d be baking herself but since finding that wheat seed, Little Red Hen had discovered that she could do anything she set her mind to. So with apron on and cookbook, in hand she set to work, with a bit of mixing and a lot of kneading, the bread was soon ready to bake. With the loaf in the oven, Little Red Hen had just enough time to tend to her chicks until ping! The bread was ready and everyone knew it. The smell wafted around the barnyard, tickling the tastebuds of one and all. As Little Red Hen proudly arrived with her victorious loaf, the cat, the rat and the hog said, ‘Please can we help you eat that bread?’

And without hesitation the wiser Little Red Hen spoke to each in turn.

Not you, though you could, not you, though you would and definitely not you, though you think that you should.’

‘Why fiddle-de-dee,’ said Little Red Hen, ‘there’s none for any of you, it’s all for me.’

She then gathered all her chirping chicks around and placed the golden loaf on the ground to enjoy with her fluffy, feathered flock.

And so they did

The end [book close]

Nanny Bea:  Well, my hens have a thing or two to learn? And to think I was impressed with their synchronised dance numbers. Thank you Jules, oh do say you’ll come back again with more Tales and Tea?

Jules: I’ll be back next week. 

Thomas: go to www.nannybea.com

Jules: Go there to find out more including  how you can be on the show. 

[Be on the Show jingle]

Announcer man: This has been a Toad in the Hole production for NannyBea.com

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