Once upon a time, in September when the weather was getting quite cold, a yellow fox was looking for a new place to steal what he could steal and to eat whatever chickens he could find to eat. His trouble was that he had been thrown out of every county he ever visited, all throughout the year.
He was thrown out of one town, after getting caught stealing Farmer Bob’s last jug of moonshine.
He was thrown out of another, for swiping a bag of golden coins from dearest old Mrs. Sugar Boots.
In the last county he was in, he had tried yanking fluffy pillows from under some dear children’s heads, but was forced to flee with only one pillowcase..after Father chased him out of the house with a big bat.
Now, he was standing at the border of the only town left where he had never been and where no one knew who he was. He was miserable and boy, oh boy, was he hungry for some chickens.
Then, he saw them. A whole farmyard full of juicy, fat and happy red chickens.
With only one town left for him to do what he desperately wanted to do, he decided he could not waste this opportunity. He had to be craftier than on the craftiest days and he had to be sneakier than on the sneakiest nights.
He couldn’t risk the chickens squawking for help. Especially, not for help from a ferocious farmyard dog. He was far too weak to even stun any dog, if he was foolish enough to try punching it in its big and furry snout. And he couldn’t risk rousing the attentions from the other farm animals, just in case they suspected their red chicken neighbors may need some help.
He thought really hard all day and came to a decision by the end of the night. He was going to trick the chickens by the best way of all-He was going to lie. A lot.
First, he decided to get their attentions by pretending to be hurt.
“Ow, Oh owwie me!!” the fox whined and moaned by the side of the fence where the chickens played.
“What’s that? Who’s that?” they all started clucking and rushing over to see what the noise was all about.
They weren’t the smartest chickens in the county. They’d never had to be any smarter than how they were. The days when foxes used to terrorize and kill them were long gone. This was because of a very smart farmer who built very high fences and made it very safe for them over the years. The only bad foxes they’d ever heard of were those red foxes from their bedtime stories. So, every good little chicken, if she had any thoughts at all about danger, only knew the danger as a far away red fox from a far away time.
Most certainly, with the poor and crying yellow fox lying by their fence, they all agreed that he
“Couldn’t and certainly wouldn’t do us any harm.”
They took him in, fed him some seed soup and listened as he told wild stories from adventures he never had. Not one of them, as he slurped on his soup, would have guessed at how his belly growled at the thought of eating each of them one by one.
Once he was in, the fox started immediately with his scheme.
First, he made plans to get rid of any other animals who could ever be able to help them. He decided to start with the chicks that were sure to hatch from their eggs-a guaranteed extra number of chickens which he most certainly could not afford to have running around and ruining things for him.
“Oh chickens! My friends, come here! What a wonderfully magical thing I have to show you” he yelled out to them. All of the chickens came running to see what wonderful news their nice yellow friend had to share. He dug out a single and shiny coin from the bag of money he stole from dearest old Mrs. Sugar Boots. He held it high enough for all of the chickens to see. With the sun shining just so, making it wink and glitter in the light, they were transfixed and amazed. As dumb chickens can often be.
“Where was that from??” one hen clucked in excitement.
“Would you like me to tell you how you can grow a whole bunch of these?” he asked from behind his greasy whiskered smile.
“Oh yes. Yes please!” they all replied.
“Well, all you have to do is throw each of your eggs to the ground, under the moon tonight. In the morning when you wake up, you will find that two golden coins will have grown in the place of each egg you were smart enough to toss out.”
The chickens clucked and the chickens clacked. Most of them were excited about the idea but a few didn’t like the idea at all. The yellow fox had a plan for that as well. For as lousy as he was, the yellow fellow was indeed very crafty. He had already guessed that a few hens would hesitate over the thought of throwing away their only children.
“Oh chickens! My friends, come here! What a wonderful meal I have to feed you with.” he called out that night, from the barn where he had laid out a large and scrumptious meal of their favorite seed soup and biscuits. The chickens drank and ate with immense joy, clucking over the generosity of their sweet and dear yellow friend. What they didn’t know was that he had dumped most of the jug of his stolen moonshine into their soup and mixed the rest into the dough for the biscuits.
By the time their dinner was finished, the chickens were feeling unusually giddy and were up and running around. They were doing the craziest things and not caring much either way. As often drunken and dumb chickens can do. They didn’t know they were drunk. By the end of the night, (including from the hens who had doubts about breaking their eggs) the entire yard was littered with the shells and yolks of all of their broken eggs.
Early in the morning, before the chickens awoke to the horror of what they had done, the fox snuck around to place a handful of coins in the place of the busted eggs..which he made sure to clean up all traces of.
When the chickens saw the golden coins scattered around the yard, they were amazed and delighted.
All throughout the month, and well into October, they made sure to repeat the egg throwing in hopes of collecting even more treasure. That suited the fox just fine, for he had stolen a very big bag. So big, it was sure to last a long enough time, until the day he could stop fooling and start eating the chickens.
But the fox wasn’t quite done. He had to make it so no other animals would come near the red chickens, so he could get them alone and eventually eat them to his big bellied satisfaction.
One day, the fox took the empty pillowcase and sat in the middle of the yard and started to wail and weep as if his heart was broken. All of the chickens came running to see what the matter was with their sad and noisy yellow friend.
“What’s wrong, dearest fox?” they clucked and clacked.
The fox looked up with very wet eyes. His eyes were wet from his dabbing his own spittle into the corners, though the chickens thought the wetness came from the fox’s tears and a broken heart. He held up the pillowcase and sighed.
“My dreams have been stolen and I cannot fall asleep long enough to get them back.”
“Whatever can we do?”
“Well, I could get a better night’s sleep if I had feathers to stuff into my pillowcase. But I have no feathers of my own to make a fluffy enough pillow. I can’t imagine where on Earth I could find enough feathers..” the fox made his voice break, so it would seem as if the next words were too hard to speak.
“..and I could never be so selfish as to ask you to lend me your own feathers.”
The fox laid his head back down, to continue with his fake crying and to listen to the chickens clucking with concern for his dilemma. For he knew exactly what they would volunteer to do.
By the time the sun went down, each and every chicken was standing in the yard and stripped bald. They had decided to pluck as many feathers from one another’s hide as they could, in order to fill their dear friend’s pillow. Even though they would be left to shiver in the cold and even though they looked a very sorry sight-with only a very few stray and stubborn quills which remained in their wrinkled chicken skins.
They proudly presented the fox with a huge heap of their feathers. He thanked them and promised to fill his pillowcase and dream only the best dreams of his beautiful chicken friends. This is not what he did. He waited until the chickens shivered themselves to sleep, set fire to the pile of feathers and set out to visit every animal he could find on the farm.
Right before the sun came back up, the fox had completed his wicked plan. A crowd of barnyard neighbors were standing outside of the coop, looking in on the sleeping chickens with horror.
He had told all of them that the chickens had caught an ugly and deadly disease which had stripped them of their feathers.
“Will I lose my beautiful tail in the way they lost their beautiful feathers?” the horse asked in alarm.
“Oh yes,” said the fox with utmost seriousness. “But if you stay far away and long enough, there should be no worries for you.”
And so it went, the sheep asking about their beautiful curls, the ducks concerned about their exceptional down and with even the pigs wondering about the curl of their own tails. To each and every one, the fox reported the dangers of the chickens’ ‘disease’ , which was most certainly not a disease. And for each and every one, the remedy was to stay as far away from the red chickens as was possible.
And so, this is what they all did.
I would like to say that, by the end of December, someone or something arrived to save the chickens from their fate at the hands of the slinking and stinking yellow fox whom they considered their dear friend..
I’m afraid that not only am I not able to report this type of happier ending but that it ended in the same way that it all began..
With the fox realizing that (with the good fortune of the chickens having already plucked themselves bare) he could speed up their trip to the cooking pot with just one final lie.
A lie which came as an invitation to the chickens, the fox said, to thank them for sacrificing so much and for showing him so much kindness.
A lie which was received as an invitation to come warm themselves in a nice hot bath, in a nice big tub large enough to accommodate all of them..and all of the carrot, onion and potato bath toys they would find there waiting to be played with.
“Woe to young chickens who fail to remember
the fox who slunk by in the days of September.
For trust isn’t meant to be foolishly spent
without thinking with caution, for which brains were most meant.
Lest the day should arrive where good sense disappears
and not one single chicken remains.. come New Year.
Because young foolish chickens allowed in the coop
the very same “friend” who consumed them as soup.“
Conceived and written by Ramsy
Feb 7th, 2021