Kay sighed and said she wished the rain would stop and she could fly outside.
"Why do you always want to be flying, Kay?", asked Elizabeth.
"You three little ones have always had a nice life. You never had the only thing you lived for be a dream," Kay clucked and ruffled her damp feathers. " You lived in a nice barn with pigs, goats and a friendly cat. Your mother spread her wings over you to keep you warm and safe. When you were a little bigger you ran outside and played in the sun."
Old Vivien clucked and fluffed her feathers. "Kay is right. You have no idea what the world can be like out there for us. Even though I came from an organic farm and ranged freely in the barn, I was never allowed outside. That is until I got old and wasn't laying so many eggs. One day the farmer opened the barn door and let me run out into the field. I was so happy to be free. In the evening, I came home to roost in the barn and found the door barred to me. Night after night I tried to come inside to sleep. Winter was coming and my old bones were aching. I could hear coyotes howling and knew they might take me for their dinner."
"That was too bad of the farmer to cast you aside like that when you had given him so many years of fine eggs,", clucked Kay.
Vivien preened herself, glad to have an understanding friend.
"Still, you were not without hope as we were in the battery farm. Thousands of us were crowded into hot, smelly, dirty barns. I would have died of the horror of it if I hadn't had my dream of flying. All around me the chickens were sick and sad. Their tails drooped and their feathers fell out. Some of them died."
Elizabeth, Rukmini and Madeleine squawked in dismay that such conditions existed.
"But I never lost sight of my dream. Every day I stretched my legs and wings as far as I could in that little space. You must always be sure you are getting yourself in shape for the time when you are free to go after the life you want, girls."
"One day a truck came with new, young chickens. Now, I thought, they can take over the egg production and I can be free. The barn door was open and I could see the sky for the first time in my life! Why, then, were two ladies pleading with the farmer to give them some of the spent hens. Am I a spent hen? Is that a good or a bad thing? It is so hard to know with humans."
"I know exactly what you mean," said Vivien. "My farmer always said I was his favourite because I was his first chicken." She shook her feathers again as if to shake off the memory.
"Well, the two ladies bribed the farmer with something in a bottle and he said they could take twenty of us. The rest were going to be loaded into a truck to go to the factory. I don't want to go to another factory. I want to fly! I stood up as tall as I could and stretched my wings to show them how fine they were. The ladies started putting chickens in carriers. They didn't seem to care that they were sickly and dejected. They didn't even hold their tails up like a proud chicken should. Pick me, pick me I clucked as I hopped up and down in my cage!"
Kay hopped up and down on the perch as she told that part of the story and that got the young girls hopping up and down. Vivien, of course, is too dignified for hopping.
"Well, as you all know, I was picked and put in a carrier to come here."
"It was time to fly. I ran toward the fence, flapped my wings as hard as I could and soared eight feet into the air; right up to the top of that fence!"
"I've practiced every day and taught all of you how to fly, too. Even Vivien does a grand job of flying out the coop door every morning."
"But why don't any of us fly as well as you, Kay?", asked Elizabeth. "We practice every day, too,".
"Because it's not your dream, dear. Once I lived for that dream, now I live the dream!"
That is exactly how the chickens told the story today. Or, maybe I told the story to them.
For certain, we all agreed that you must get yourself ready, try your hardest and never, never give up on your dreams!