The Peacock in the Barnyard - A Modern Day Fable
Farmer Roy was well known for having the finest farm in a 3-state area. His cattle were envied and sold at market for a premium price, and his crops were counted among the very best.
Farmer Roy’s wife raised chickens. She had fifty hens that provided her with plenty of eggs, and three roosters that woke her and farmer Roy each morning. Just as Farmer Roy was known for his fine cattle, Mrs. Roy was known for her eggs, and from her eggs, her award winning cakes.
Every morning, just as the sun peaked over the horizon, the roosters began crowing. The chickens in the henhouse clucked contentedly and laid their eggs. Before long, Mrs. Roy emerged from the white farmhouse with a large basket. She made her way into the barnyard and plunged her hand into the deep pocket of her apron. Scooping out a handful of chicken feed, she flung the grain in a wide arch across the ground. Roosters and hens alike flocked toward Mrs. Roy. After a few generous handfuls had been thrown, and the flock was busy pecking and picking, Mrs. Roy made her way into the henhouse to collect the morning eggs. She then chose which eggs she would keep, and which she would take to the market.
A stranger in the barnyard.
One day, a visitor arrived in the barnyard. No one knew where he came from. He just strutted in with his bright, blue chest puffed out, and elegant tail feathers fanned behind him demanding the attention of everyone. The hens were all too happy to oblige. When he lifted his beak and let out a loud screech, they flapped their wings and clucked loudly in approval. The roosters, who watched from a distance, were all interested in this visitor, but they were also suspicious.
The next morning, Mrs. Roy came to the barnyard with her basket and her pocket full of feed. The visitor strutted into the yard from the barn, chest puffed out, and feathers fanned, he let out a screech. Mrs. Roy stopped, startled at the sight of such a curious creature in the barnyard. The roosters watched, as the farmer’s wife was first confused, then pleased with the new arrival. She plunged her hand into her pocket and scooped out a generous handful of feed for the bird. He screeched loudly and began gobbling down the feed.
She moved on to the henhouse throwing feed all around for the roosters and hens, who clucked and pecked, as she filled her basket with eggs. As she left, the visitor fanned his bright tail feathers and shook his covert as if to say thank you. The farmer’s wife rushed to the house to fetch her husband.
When they returned, farmer Roy was shaking his head; he just didn’t believe what his wife had told him. He stopped short when he saw the peacock standing in the middle of the adoring flock of chickens.
“Well, I’ll be,” he said. Then walked back to the house to finish his breakfast.
They had to find a way to get rid of him.
The roosters began to squawk among themselves. This stranger was getting all the attention, not only from the hens, but now from Farmer Roy and his wife. They had to find a way to get rid of him.
Perhaps it was the hens, who had tipped him off, or maybe he was a mind reader, but the next morning, before the roosters could get to their spots on the top of the coop, the peacock stood in their place. Raising his beak toward the rising sun, and puffing out his bright blue chest, he let out a wild screech. The roosters took turns crowing; after each rooster, the peacock screeched, and the roosters would crow a little louder.
The chickens clucked wildly in the henhouse as the birds battled overhead. By the time Mrs. Roy arrived in the barnyard, all the hens were out of the coop watching the roosters attack the peacock. There was pecking, squawking, and wings flapping. Mrs. Roy dropped her basket and ran waving her arms at the fighting birds until they flew off in different directions. She chided the roosters for picking on their beautiful guest, and then went to look for the peacock. He was pacing back-and-forth in the back of the barn, fanning what was left of his plumes. Mrs. Roy felt sorry for the poor bird. She reached in her pocket and took out a handful of feed and tossed it down just for him.
The roosters were nowhere to be found, but the hens clucked and gathered around as the farmer's wife threw their morning feed. When her pocket was empty, she picked up her basket and went into the henhouse where she found the nests full of broken eggs. Only a few of the eggs were left intact. She was furious at the roosters for stirring up the hens causing them to stomp their eggs.
The roosters had found a place to hide from the angry farmer’s wife, the angry hens, and the peacock, whose only injury was to his pride. They could see what was happening in the barnyard; the strange and exotic stranger was taking over. He had the hens in an uproar, and now the farmer’s wife had no eggs; and she thought the roosters were to blame. Well, they would get rid of him and get the barnyard back in order.
With a single twist, he wrung her neck.
Little did the roosters know that while they were forming their plan, the peacock was busy forming one of his own. As a matter of fact, he was sulking around the henhouse dragging his wounded tail feathers in the dirt, his neck sagging for dramatic effect. The hens gathered around the peacock cooing and clucking in empathy.
When the roosters appeared, the peacock backed away from them in mock fear. The hens became enraged and began pecking and flapping their wings, driving the roosters away. For the next few days, a rivalry was played out in the barnyard between the roosters and the peacock.
Farmer Roy and his wife were becoming increasingly annoyed with the situation. The mornings began with the screeches of the peacock, intermingled with the roosters crowing and followed by the clucking and squawking of agitated chickens.
Farmer Roy’s wife gathered fewer eggs each morning, and the eggs were smaller than they had ever been. Mrs. Roy was getting worried. The county fair would be held in just a month, and if things didn’t improve, there wouldn’t be enough eggs to bake one of her award winning cakes.
After she had voiced her concern to her husband, farmer Roy made his way to the barnyard. Everything was in turmoil. Once again, the hens were in an uproar, squawking and flapping their wings in an effort to keep the roosters away from the cowering peacock.
Farmer Roy stood for just a moment, then reached down and grabbed a hen. With a single twist, he wrung her neck. The barnyard became silent. The farmer turned and walked to the house. He and his wife had a sumptuous feast of fried chicken that night for supper.
The chickens were in a panic! Some found shelter in the coop, the roosters hid in the hayloft of the barn, but the peacock continued to parade through the barnyard arrogantly fanning his feathers.
“Nice hat,” said the farmer with a smile.
When the sun’s rays reached over the horizon the next morning, the peacock waited. He saw no roosters on the henhouse, nor did he hear any crowing. He puffed out his chest, quite pleased with himself, and strutted back into the barn and fell asleep. After quietly watching and waiting, the roosters slipped out of the hayloft and made their way to the henhouse. They flew up to their normal perch and started crowing and the chickens began clucking.
Suddenly, the peacock, startled out of his sleeping, ran screeching into the barnyard flapping his wings and fanning his tail feathers. He was infuriated that the chickens did not rush out of the coop to greet him, and fawn over him. In fact, no one seemed to notice him at all.
When Farmer Roy’s wife came to the barnyard with her basket and pocket of feed, the chickens didn’t make a fuss when the roosters joined them for their breakfast. In fact, they turned their backs on the peacock until he tried to force his way into the middle of the flock. The hens squawked and flapped their wings, and the roosters lifted their necks in disgust pecking him hard on his head. Even the farmer’s wife shooed the bird away. Dejected, he slumped his way into a back corner of the barn.
Later that day, Farmer Roy’s wife watched as her husband went to the barn, a hatchet in his hand.
From then on, the eggs were untouched, and there would be plenty for Farmer Roy’s wife to bake her award winning cake.
As the farmer and his wife got ready to go to the fair, Mrs. Roy put on her beautiful new bonnet. She looked in the mirror and adjusted the brilliant blue hat that showcased two beautiful peacock feathers.
“Nice hat,” said the farmer with a smile.
“Thank you,” said the farmer’s wife as she took one last glance in the mirror.
The moral of the story
Don’t think too highly of yourself. You may be the one spoiling the cake; and is that something you want to lose your head over?
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