I’m going to tell this story to the pre-school children tomorrow. Against the background of my current reading about a Steady State Economy (“Enough is Enough” – Rob Dietz & Dan O’Neill), it feels appropriate. So – are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin …
Once upon a time, there was a little hen. She lived on a farm with a cow, a sheep and a goat. Not far from the farm there lived a fox.
One day, the little hen laid an egg. It was her very first egg. Because it was her first egg, she wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. The cow, the sheep and the goat were very excited about the little hen’s egg, but the hen didn’t see why. So when the fox came along and offered to swap her egg for a nice fat wriggly worm, the little hen didn’t see why not, and said ‘Yes’.
When the cow and the sheep and the goat found out about this, they were horrified. They said, ‘How could you be so silly? Your egg is worth a lot more than a worm. You shouldn’t have sold it to the fox.’
So the hen, the cow, the sheep and the goat went to see the fox. The little hen said, ‘Please could I have my egg back?’ The fox said – ‘No’.
The cow said, ‘Will you swap the little hen’s egg for some lovely fresh milk?’ The fox said – ‘No’
The sheep said, ‘Will you swap the little hen’s egg for some lovely warm wool?’ The fox said – ‘No’
The goat said, ‘Will you swap the little hen’s egg for some lovely tasty cheese? The fox said – ‘No’.
The fox said, ‘I am going to cook this egg and eat it with some toast and butter for my tea. Egg and toast is my favourite food’.
The little hen was really upset to hear this. By now, she really wanted her egg back. But the animals could see that they would have to think of a really clever plan. So the cow and the sheep and the goat put their heads together and hatched a really clever plan. They found a big, round stone at the edge of the farmyard. In fact, it looked a little bit egg shaped. Then they found a pot of white paint in a corner of the barn. They painted the stone and rolled it out to where the fox lived.
They said, ‘Will you swap this enormous white egg for that tiny little brown one?’ The greedy fox licked his lips. He thought to himself, ‘These animals must be really stupid’. He gave them the little hen’s egg and then, with all his strength, he lifted the big white stone egg into a pan of water he had ready.
The cow and the sheep and the goat took the egg back to the little hen. She was delighted. She took her egg to the barn and sat on it until, a few days later, out popped a little chicken.
They never saw the fox again. Some say that he is still waiting for his enormous egg to cook.