We visited Shelburne Farms this week with friends. Even though much of the farms are closed for winter (winters are long here), we walked three quarters of a mile to the barn, and paid our respects to the lambs and chickens. Did you know a group of chickens is a peep? The lovely ladies we met certainly clucked and peeped at us.
The Widget did his best to get the hens to talk with him, and succeeded in feeding a lamb. He was thrilled to be engaging with these creatures.
There is something so sweet about watching little kids interact with animals. Their own language skills are still developing, so maybe they have a greater comfort in the nonverbal communication required to get a lamb to nudge your hand, or a chicken to NOT chew on your toe? (For some actual thought about animals and empathy, read something by Temple Grandin.)
It’s funny too, right? I mean, trying to get a chicken or a pig to say “hi” is a bit of a fool’s errand. The Widget spent a good 10 minutes following around one white hen, waiting for her to finally respond.
But mostly it’s heartwarming to be somewhere where people clearly care about the animals in their charge, and our children are reminded that there are other creatures in the world that deserve our respect and thoughtfulness.