One of Nasreddin Hodja’s neighbors asked the Hodja for some advice on how to manage his large family in his tiny little house.
“Hodja Efendi,” he lamented, “our quarters are so small, we can’t all fit in. My wife and I, my mother-in-law, three kids… We are cramped up in our puny cottage. You are a wise man, you would know of a solution, please tell me what to do!”
“How many chickens do you have in the barn?” Hodja asked.
“Why, Hodja Efendi, I have five chickens and a rooster.”
“Take them all into the house!”
“Mercy!” the poor peasant protested, “Hodja Efendi, the house is small without the chickens.”
“Try it!” Nasreddin Hodja insisted, “You will be grateful to me.”
The neighbor was not convinced but he didn’t dare question the wisdom of the Hodja. He took the chickens and the rooster inside the house. The next morning, he ran to Hodja’s house.
“Hodja Efendi, it is worse now. Myself, my wife, my mother-in-law, three kids, five chickens, and a rooster! We can’t fit in at all!” he bewailed. However, Nasreddin Hodja was not moved.
“You have a donkey, don’t you?”
“Yes, Hodja Efendi, I have one old donkey,” answered the man.
“Take the donkey in!” ordered the Hodja. No matter how much the neighbor objected, Nasreddin Hodja maintained that it was for his benefit, and the hopeless man did as he was told. The next morning, he ran back to Hodja’s house, this time more despairing than ever.
“Hodja Efendi! It is not possible. The wife, the mother-in-law, the kids, the chickens, the rooster, and the donkey! We had a terrible night. There is no room to breathe.”
“If I remember correctly, you had two lambs, did you not?”
“Oh, no! Hodja Efendi, don’t tell me to take the lambs in. There is no room!”
“Don’t worry, my friend,” the Hodja assured the desperate man, “You will thank me in the end.” The neighbor, hoping the Hodja knows something that he doesn’t, took the two lambs in that night. The next morning he was at Hodja’s doorstep, wretched.
“Hodja Efendi, what are you doing to us? The house is packed full. My mother-in-law is threatening to kill me, my wife is threatening to leave me. This is not working at all.”
Nasreddin Hodja considered for a moment, then he said:
“Now, take all the livestock out of the house. Chickens, rooster, donkey, and lambs; all back to the garden, back to the barn, back to the shed. Take them all out!”
Next morning, the neighbor was once again at Hodja’s house.
“Ahh, Hodja Efendi, you are indeed a wise man. You solved my problem. Now, our house is so large, so roomy, so much space for everyone, kids can play, we can sleep, everyone is happy,” he said, “Thank you, and may Allah bless you!”