The Fable of the Hen and the Wild Turkey

Each day the farmwife would go out to the chicken pen, and throw out some feed. Each day, the hen would come out of her coop and eat. One day, the farmwife was in a hurry, so she threw a handful of corn hastily through the wire, and moved on to her other business. Some of the feed fell outside of the pen. The hen pushed her head against the wire, trying to get her beak to the pile of fresh feed beyond, but could not reach it. Finally, she abandoned it and went back to her nest.

Later that day, a wild turkey stole by, and began to eat the feed that fell outside of the pen.

Seeing the wild turkey, the chicken hopped down and said, “Hey! That’s my food.”

“Then why haven’t you eaten it?” said the turkey.

“I couldn’t reach it, obviously,” said the hen.

The turkey laughed. “Then why do you care if I eat it?”

Feeling flustered, the hen went back to her nest.


The next day, the farmwife was again in a hurry, and again some of the feed was thrown past the wires of the pen. Like the previous day   , the turkey came by to eat the extra feed.

“If only I were a turkey!” said the chicken.

“Don’t be so hasty to envy me, my friend,” said the turkey. “While you cannot reach this food, the food that normally is given to you you don’t have to work for.”

“Of course I work for my food. I give the farmwife my eggs,” the hen said.

“That’s hardly working, don’t you think?” said the turkey.

“Well you didn’t work for that feed.”

“Oh no? I came a long way from my nest to reach this food, past eagles and wolves and other nasty things. There is a great deal of risk that comes with being wild.”

“What if no food falls outside tomorrow?” the hen said. “How will you eat then?”

“There’s lots of other things to eat in the forest, though most are not as tasty as corn. Still, I may go hungry, as I must do from time to time.”

“Then why don’t you come in here?” the hen said. “I get fed twice a day, without work, as you point out.”

“Just because you don’t work doesn’t mean there’s no cost,” said the turkey. “I live and die by my wits, something I don’t think you have the stomach for, but I certainly don’t have the stomach to give my eggs to a farmer to eat, only to end up on the dinner table myself later on.”

“What? You think the farmer will eat me?”

The turkey laughed. “Surprised, are we?”

The hen, flustered, ran around the pen a few times before returning to the dining turkey. “Well, turkey, I happen to know that the farmer has a shotgun, and I see him often returning from the woods with foul. Perhaps you will end up on the table before me.”

“Perhaps,” the turkey said. “But that outcome will be up to me and my ability to avoid such a fate. As for you, yours is a sealed fate, though a comfortable one. I’ll take my chances in the wood.”

“You’re a fool, turkey.”

“If I am, then I will soon be dead,” the wild turkey said, and flew off, just as the farmwife returned.

“Made a new friend, have you?” the farmwife said to the hen.


The next day, the farmwife fed the hen, and once again, some of the feed landed outside the pen. The chicken waited for the turkey to come and eat, but he never came.

“Hello! Turkey?” the hen called out, but the turkey did not come.

Finally, the sun began to go down, and the farmwife came by. She scooped up the extra feed and tossed it to the hen. The chicken noticed she had a shotgun broken open over her forearm.

“It looks like you have a clever friend,” she said to the chicken. “Thrice is never an accident, as my father used to say.”

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