Henry didn’t chicken out. A hypothetical story with a grain of truth.

Somerset downs a place I had lived in for the last 40 years. I had to take a double look as my eyes were deceiving me. I rubbed them but no, Dawn had just broken.  I drew back the curtains to look out over the the scene was still the same. It looked as though I was looking over Windermere. The water was choppy and stretched as far as the eye could see as there was neither grass, nor cows nor sheep, no road and no railway track. I called my wife who came to the window. She stood dumfounded then looked at me with tears in her eyes. A sudden realization hit me, Henry and his wives were still in the chicken coup. I remember saying “OMG Henry!”  Still in my night wear I ran as fast as I could down the stairs and as I got to the last 4 steps I hit the icy cold water. I shouted back to my wife for her to stay upstairs as we were flooded. I made my way to the back door opening it to be met by a wave of water pushing me back into the hall way. My mind was racing. I was suddenly very cold but I had to get to the hen coup and Henry and his girls. I could see the large shed that housed them. It was half submerged in the ever rising waters. I opened the shed door and the wind slammed it closed so I pulled at the Suffolk latch until I got the door open. I fearfully looked in and could make out in the shed’s dim light that Henry was on the top perch and cuddled up to him were his 40 wives all clucking loudly. My mind was racing how, where, and yes the water was still rising. “Pull yourself together man,” I thought to myself. I waded over to Henry, held out my arms to him but he was not for coming to me. He lifted his head to its full height and gave me a very knowing look as if to say “Get my girls out whilst I hold the fort”.

I gathered 4 hens into my arms and made my way back to the house battling the wind and the fast moving waters. I was so cold. As I entered the house I could see my wife on the stairs. I shouted to her that there was only the hen house standing. The garden shed and the wooden garage had gone and the car was half submerged. “We will put Henry and his girls in the back bedroom” I yelled. I put the hens down on the stairs. My wife rushed up to close our bedroom door, and opened the back bedroom door. I followed her and we removed the single bed mattress. We turned the bed frame on its side. Henry’s girls soon flew up and began to roost on the bed frame. Not a cluck was heard. I went back and forth to the coup and over the next 40 minutes or so we managed to get all the hens into the house. The last to leave the hen house was Henry. When I entered the hen house for the last time he looked at me and then as if he was making sure all the girls were out he looked around himself. I held out my arms to him. He waited until I wrapped them around him then snuggled into me hiding his head in my pyjama top. He felt cold and very wet as I cuddled him into my chest. We made our way back to the house. I set him down in the back bedroom and all his girls began clucking. He flew up onto the wardrobe and gave his dawn call. Then he looked at me through one eye then crowed once more. My wife hustled me into the bathroom were she had my dry work clothes ready. I hurriedly dried myself and got into the dry clothes. My lovely wife, so practical. She had found we had no electric, no landline, but she had not been idle, as whilst I was saving Henry and his wives she had been salvaging our belongings from down stairs including food and a small camping stove. We had a limited breakfast then cooked three pans full of potatoes and added cornflakes to the mash and fed Henry and his wives a hot mash and telling ourselves that the bed room carpet would never be the same again one way or another. As we watched Henry waiting for his girls to feed first my wife produced our mobile phone smiling she told me we had a signal and the rescue team were on their way. I could have cried. I told her I hoped they had a big boat as Henry and the girls would not want to be caged, to which my wife playfully hit me saying “You silly old fool I think you love Henry and his wives more than me” as we both laughed for the first time that day.

 I hope you liked my story, it was written on the back of the Somerset floods 2012

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Comment by judylow on August 16, 2014 at 23:01

Not so amusingly told, but when we had the great storm I had to rush out in the night as the water from the nearby river flooded the field behind our house, joined up with the stream at the end of our garden and rescue the rabbits in their hutch.  The following morning we looked out of the window at the front and laughed as a bemused looking paper boy stood at the gate not knowing what to do with that morning's newspaper, we were entirely surrounded by water.

Comment by Jenny Itzcovitz on September 1, 2014 at 11:21

What a funny story, but it must have been very frightening. I'm so glad you saved Henry and his wives. Lucky your wife got a signal on her mobile phone.

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