One of child 4's favourite activities is to feed the chickens. He is obsessed with them, we have to visit them every day.
This morning as I was on early duty, a very early duty that started at 5.30am I thought child 4 could help me with the breakfasting and cleaning out the chickens. So after our breakfast of porridge we pulled coats and wellies on over our jammies and headed out into the early morning autumn sunshine. After filling child 4's chicken cup with corn I grabbed the less exciting scraper, straw and very necessary rubber gloves.
We could hear the chickens calling before we reached the run gate and child 4 was quivering with excitement "chihens, chihens" he called back almost dancing with glee.
When I opened the door of their house the four girls piled out clucking away and child 4 called to them waving his corn. He grabs a little of the corn and throws it for them, revelling in the way they dart about pecking up the corn and running back for some more. I can clear out the house in peace whilst listening to the happy chatter of my son and our girls.
The interaction of children and pets is really good for self esteem, animals have a tendency to convey unconditional and non-judgmental love, which is something that children really can't received enough of. Child 2 often unloads his woes to the dog after all Dylan can't give any advice he just provides a warm fluffy body to lean on. If the children are involved in caring for a pet they learn to give, to respect others and learn how to love. Research shows that pets can help prevent depression and encourage calm in difficult circumstances and of course pets teach our children all about the life cycle as we have only recently found out.
It's wonderful to watch child 4 with all our pets he is so gentle even if he does continually get the dog in trouble. I am not quite sure that when he needs a warm, fluffy body to lean on, how the chickens will provide it though" there's a thought?!?