Ballymoss the Super Hen
A true story.
Carmel’s Mammy and Daddy kept hens in their back garden. Some were Rhode Island Reds, some were Leghorns and some were Welsommers.
Twice a day Carmel helped her Mammy feeding the hens.
Carmel’s Mammy used the eggs for feeding the family, and for baking.
Carmel did not think that it was strange to live in a big city like Dublin and to have hens in the back garden.
Early one morning the Postman knocked at the door. He told Carmel’s Mammy that he found a little hen in the mouth of a dog. The hen was barely alive and was white with a black tail.
Carmel’s Mammy told the Postman that the hen was not hers but that she would take her in until she found the owner.
However there was no owner for the little white hen, so Carmel’s Mammy put her with the other hens in the back garden.
The new little hen was not like the others. She was a Light Sussex. Carmel and her sisters quickly became very fond of her.
The other hens did not welcome the new one.
Every day they pecked at her and bullied her.
The new hen had to run away from them to the corner of the garden.
One day Carmel’s Daddy saw the new hen running very fast from the others. He said that the new hen ‘was running as fast as the racehorse Ballymoss.’
After that all the family called the new hen Ballymoss.
Before Christmas Carmel’s Mammy said:
‘All the hen are laying eggs, except Ballymoss. If she has not laid an egg before Christmas, she is no good to us and I will have to put her into the pot for cooking!’
Carmel and her sisters were very worried about this.
They all loved Ballymoss and did not want to see their pet hen eaten for dinner.
On Christmas Eve Carmel’s Daddy got the car ready to bring all the children into the city to see Santa Claus. Before they left, Carmel went into the shed to check the hens. She saw a little black tail of feathers sticking out from a wooden box. It was Ballymoss and she had just laid her first egg!
All the children were delighted. Ballymoss was saved. It was a very happy Christmas.
One morning after Christmas, Carmel’s Mammy left her to look after the house while she visited a neighgbour. She told Carmel to feed the hens. Carmel had never fed the hens by herself before and she gave them far too much grain!
The hens eat all the grain. They became very sick and fell down in the grass.
When Carmel’s Mammy came home she told Carmel that she had overfed the hens and that they might all die. Her sisters told her that she had probably ‘murdered’ Ballymoss.
The next morning all the hens were running around the garden. Carmel was delighted when she say that Ballymoss was in good health.
A few months later, when Carmel came home from school, her sisters told her: ‘Dogs have broken into the garden and killed the hens.’
Carmel rushed in and saw that some of the hens were lying down in the grass, dead. Others were alive but very frightened. Carmel looked for Ballymoss and found her hiding under the hedge. Ballymoss had survived again.
When the summer came Carmel went to visit her cousins in the West for a holiday. During the weekend her sisters visited her. They had startling news:
‘Mammy and Daddy sent all the hens away. A van called for them and they are all gone. We have no more hens.’
Carmel was very sad. She would miss the hens in her back garden but most of all she would miss Ballymoss.
On the way back to her home in Dublin, Carmel kept thinking of Ballymoss. She thought of the van bringing the little hen to a chicken farm. She decided that this very clever hen would somehow escape. Yes, she would peck her way under the fence. Then she would fly away. Once again Ballymoss would be fine.
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