The Christmas Star: A Farm Fable of Lem and Lee’s Five Hens

Painting by Joyce Harlukowicz

Blackie awoke in the night with a leg cramp. She stretched with care not to disturb her sisters’ sleep. “Urrrr,” she sighed with relief.

“Another craaamp?” whispered Silver who roosted beside Blackie.

“Oh my, I woke you again,” Blackie replied. “I can’t rooost all night like I did last winter.”

“That’s okaaay,” Silver said softly. “None of us are spring chickens any longer.”

Blackie furrowed her eyebrows with worry. “Did you wake with a cramp, too?” 

“No. It’s the stars! They’re beauuutiful tonight.”

Blackie and Silver looked outside the window into the cold, glittering darkness.

“See the bright, rising star?” Silver asked.

Blackie’s eyes popped wide open. “It has a tail!” she gasped quietly.

“Like ours.”

“I’ve never seen a star with a taaail before.”

“Mother never mentioned a star with a tail?” Silver asked.

Blondie roused awake. “What about Mother’s tail?”

Silver rolled her eyes and hushed Blondie who had the habit of dipping into private conversations.

Blondie ignored Silver. “Mother’s tail was like mine.”

“You mean your tail is like Mother’s,” Silver refuted.

“Shhh,” said Blackie. “You’ll wake Goldie and Brownie.”

They yawned. “Too laaate.”

The five hens stretched their legs and wings, turned this way and that upon the pole, and at last roosted close and cozy.

“Now, what was the disturbance about?” asked Brownie.

Before Blackie or Silver could reply, the star’s dancing beam aligned level with their eyes.

“Would you look at that?” Goldie proclaimed. “A star with a tail feather!”

“The cause of the disturbance,” Silver said.

“Did Mother mention a star with a tail feather to your girls?” Blackie asked Goldie and Brownie.


A melancholy mood fell within the henhouse.

“I remember Mother gathering us under her wings,” Blackie said.

Goldie sighed. "'Don’t wander too far from home and lose your way,’ Mother said.”

“And ‘We’re stronger together than apart,’” Brownie added.

Silver nodded. “And ‘Freeze when the hawk’s shadow passes over you.’”

The four hens glanced to Blondie for their mother’s most often repeated advice to them all. She blushed. “And ‘Mind your own business.’”

The sisters roosted in peace and watched the star’s tail rise out of sight before they fell asleep.

By dawn the hens had forgotten the star. They drank their water and ate their grain. They nested and laid eggs while waiting for Lem or Lee to bring their late morning oatmeal. 

“Hello, girls!” said Lee when she opened the door. “Here’s your favorite. Lem said to say ‘Hello.’”

As Lee turned the straw, scrapped their roost posts, and gathered eggs, she sang a song.

Do you see what I see? A star, a star, Dancing in the night.

“Yes!” the hens screeched, remembering the star.

With a tail as big as a kite. With a tail as big as a kite.

The hens flapped their wings. “Yes! A tail like ours!”

Lee hung the rake on the wall. “What are you so excited about, girls? Did you see the Christmas star last night? Wasn’t it peaceful?”

“Yes!” the hens squalled louder. “But what is a kite?”

“Thanks for the eggs,” Lee said and closed the henhouse door.

The sisters cocked their heads and blinked to one another.

“I know,” said Silver with a twinkle in her eye.

“Buook! What, Silver?” Brownie asked.

“A kite must be a big, shiny tail feather. ”

Blondie, Brownie, and Goldie turned to their eldest sister.

Blackie considered the peaceful, Christmas star. “Yes, you could be right, Blondie.”

We're stronger together than apart.