Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Little Red Hen Moves To Egypt

 I have about ten people working for me on my farm, helping to care for the animals, working in the gardens and basically providing a lot of support for me. They've all worked for me for some before the revolution.  After the revolution our busy schedules of school visits, equestrian tourism and so on pretty much died. A lot of stables around me unloaded their horse and cut staff right away, but I couldn't do that to families that I was supporting or to the  horses that I'd rescued. So we tightened belts and looked for ways to economise. One way was to turn the land between the horse paddocks and the garden into vegetable gardens for the use of all the staff and their families. The deal is that everyone chips in on the work and everyone benefits. So the other day after lunch I took a look at the beds and announced to the grooms and gardeners that everyone needed to put in some weeding time. Not all of them were thrilled so I told them a story, one I'd heard as a child,  The Little Red Hen.

My Arabic is functional, not perfect by any means, so the story was somewhat simplified for them. For anyone who doesn't know this story, it is a staple for North American children in their pre-school years. Briefly, a red hen is walking around one day when she finds some wheat on the road. She gathers up the grain and decides to use it to grow more wheat so that she can bake some bread. At various points in the process (planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, milling, and baking) she asks various animal friends (cow, donkey, duck, dog, cat, rooster) to assist her, but each one has a sort of excuse as to why they can't help her....until, of course, the bread was baked and everyone wanted some, but the little red hen tells them that since they were too busy to help, they must be too busy to eat.

The guys all listened politely to the end and then at the end, one of them began to laugh and said, "See? She fooled them!" Another slightly more socially adept groom suggested that it was something else. I laughed and said that yes, if they wanted to eat the bread (or in our case, the vegetables) they needed to be there for the work and announced that I was the red hen. All very simple, you'd think, but the young man who took the story as the hen taking advantage of and then laughing at her neighbours then spent hours trying to figure out who among them was the donkey, the cat, the duck and so on.

Sometimes stories don't travel all that well.

copyright 2012 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani