The Hawk and the Chicken
“Hawk… Hawwwwk… HAWWWWWK. I want to eat some chicken!”
My three year old daughter is currently running around the room, flapping her long hawk wings, preying on a lonely imaginary chicken.
Suddenly her character changes. “Don’t eat me! Don’t eat me!” She runs into a closet and locks herself in there.
“I’m gonna eat you!!”
The Wolf and the Sheep
Another minute later, I hear howling. “Ooowwwwwww! Oww, Owwwww!” A loud shuffle and rumble passes through the room. I hear it again, “I’m going to eat you little sheep! Owwww, OWWWWWW!”
She runs back to me and her face turns serious. “If we get sheep, will a wolf eat them?”
We’ve been considering buying sheep mainly for hobby (they are incredibly cute) and lawn mowing purposes! I just recently got the memo that we will be fostering a pair of baby Shetland sheep soon. Can you say, Oh. My. Fricken. Gosh. No way!?! (I am overly excited!!!)
“Honey, if we get sheep, we will do our very best to keep them safe. They will sleep in the barn just like the chickens.”
My answer seemed to satisfy her because within seconds, she runs away howling again. “Owwwwwwwww! You white, fluffy sheep!”
An Unintended Lesson on the Circle of Life
These pretend play sessions have been a daily occurrence around here ever since we lost two of our baby chicks, Dandelion and Moonmist. They were only two weeks into their free-range journey when they were picked up by flying predators. Sadly, we learned our lesson too late, but quickly built a chicken tractor for our remaining chickens’ protection.
Initially, we assumed a hawk took our chicks, which is why my daughter pretends to play The Hawk and the Chicken. But it could have been Turkey Voltures because there is a large flock of them in the forest across the street. When we let our chickens out, three or four turkey voltures will often swoop down and circle us. It’s kinda crazy.
Despite my daughter’s seemingly lack of emotion towards the loss of her pet chickens, she was deeply shook up by the events. She finds it difficult to understand why a hawk would eat something that she loved so much. Like me, she loves her chickens and cats equally, and then the dog! She has since become highly protective of our chickens. She refuses to let them be alone and insists that they stay in their chicken tractor unless an adult is nearby… strictly supervising.
She also gets a little temperamental and shakes her finger at the sky yelling, “You naughty hawks! I’m gonna throw you on the ground and stomp on you! YOU DON’T EAT MY CHICKIES!” And when she tells the story of what happened, “Those naughty hawks. They are mean… They were feeding my Dandelion and Moonmist to their hawk babies. They shouldn’t eat chickens. That is NOT nice.”
(My husband and I explained that hawks need to eat so they can live too. They might even have their own babies to feed. So, maybe our baby chicks went to feed their baby hawks?)
The Wolf and the Sheep was thanks to a Barney episode about The Girl Who Cried Wolf.
Humans Choose to Hurt Animals, but Hawks Don’t Have a Choice
All of my daughter’s comments led up to my golden opportunity to simplify my vegetarianism for her three year old mind. She was constantly asking why hawks have to hurt chickens. I told her, “Hawks eat a lot of small animals to be healthy. They can’t cook up other food.” Long pause. “People eat chickens too, ya know.”
The look on her face was one of disgust.
“People eat chickens, but they don’t have to. There are plenty of other healthy foods we can eat that do not hurt chickens or other animals.”
I could tell she was in deep thought, “But Granny and Daddy eat chickens. They shouldn’t hurt chickens! That’s not nice. That’s naughty.”
She understands that she doesn’t want to eat meat because it is a dead animal. I don’t know if she will grow up to be a vegetarian, but while she is home I serve her healthy vegetarian and vegan meals 100% of the time. It has been this way since August 2014. Right now, she is in the process of trying to understand why people choose to eat meat when it means killing an animal. The only thing I can tell her is that just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.