We had a group of foster kids who came to the barn. All the kids gathered around me as I told them about the animals and the ranch, all except one. This boy stood in the back, eyes down to the ground, arms folded across his chest, as if to say, "you are not getting to me, I am not interested."
I kept trying to get him interested in the animals but he would not look at me or talk to me. I finally gave up and focused more on the other kids, thinking, "Well you can't win them all." Just as the session was coming to an end I heard a voice behind me mumbling, "Can I hold that chicken?" I whirled around to see the closed off boy talking to me. He was not looking at me mind you, but he was talking to me and he was interested in holding a chicken! I picked Strawberry up and handed her to him to hold. He stroked her very gently. Then he started telling me about how he had a chicken when he was a child and they loved each other very much. That one day he came home from school and she was gone and he never saw her again. He told me how he missed her.
I told him how very sorry I was that happened to him and how much I understood his pain. His eyes slowly lifted and he started telling me how he lived in a foster home and no one understood him and he had not seen his parents in years, and how he wanted to be an animator but was not sure how to do it. He told me his whole life story, and he was looking right at me as he spoke. I did not take my eyes off of him, and prayed that the dialogue would never end.
He left The Gentle Barn with a smile on his face hugging me goodbye and saying he couldn't wait to return soon. This boy had been so invisible, angry, resistant and defensive, and came alive, opened up and let me in, all because of a tiny hen named Strawberry.
Strawberry is no longer with us, she died of old age several years ago, but I was thinking of her and wanted you to know of the wonderful work she did here for almost 8 years!
26910 Sierra Highway D-8 #318
Santa Clarita, CA, 91321