I have backyard chickens. Five of them to be exact. Yes, living in the middle of a large city, I have backyard chickens. When my wife suggested that we get a “couple” of chickens, I thought “couple” meant two. I wasn’t ready for a small flock. She told me that she got five because she figured that two or three of the chicks wouldn’t survive. She was wrong. While I didn’t want the mess and the hassle of owning chickens, I was really looking forward to having farm fresh eggs every morning. It’s been three months now and only one of them, Henrietta, is laying eggs and not even every day. In this world of instant gratification, I’m not very gratified. There is one negative thing about them so far. They love to eat my wife’s garden plants. They recently discovered the sweet potato plants, causing us to build a fence around them just to give them a chance to survive. Some of the other vegetables…we gave up on them. While keeping them out of the garden is challenging, I have learned that chickens can be good pets too. My granddaughters, who live with us, loves these silly birds and play with them every day. The chickens even follow them around. The most amazing thing has happened though. One of them, Attila the Hen, has been particularly good for my oldest granddaughter, Tova, who has autism. Tova can go sit in the chicken coop and relax with them. She gets totally calm when she is there, unlike other times when she can be explosive. These birds, especially Attila, have become therapeutic for her. So much so that Attila is now on a national registry as an emotional support chicken. She has her own ID card and Tova can take her just about anywhere, in her little pink chicken vest and leash, to help soothe her when times get tense for her. Who knew that our foray into hoping for fresh eggs would turn into the best therapy our granddaughter could get?
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