Week 5: Time with the Animals
Every summer Farrington partners with surrounding community farms to bring out farm animals for the kids to engage with. This summer Farrington hosted four chickens, three goats, and two rabbits. The kids that come to Farrington then have the opportunity to feed and pet the goats and rabbits, and to pet and hold a chicken. This experience is very new to many kids from Boston and Cambridge, and a familiar reminder of home to some kids who have recently moved to the US from other countries. Last week one boy arrived at Farrington very apprehensive about the day. During the welcome activity he refused to pick an activity that he was most excited about saying, “I just want to go home,” every time he was addressed by staff. Kids who come to Farrington have often never experienced time in the woods, at the pond, in the garden, or with animals, and it can be scary and uncomfortable for many. While this makes the day challenging, it also provides room for huge growth and transformation.
This boy’s small group went to the animals activity first. While sitting in the barn, he whispered “This might actually be fun,” to one of his counselors, though he still declined to participate. The group walked to the goats, and he tentatively asked if he could feed them. Very soon he was running to get more and more leaves for the goats, yelling, “I gave him a whole country buffet!”
Another young boy started the animal activity by saying “I don’t want to see the animals, it’s just like all the ones we have in Guatemala.” For some kids, these animals and the garden is a small taste of what home used to be. They find themselves at ease and comfortable, and recall knowledge they bring from foreign countries. By the end of the day this boy too had turned his view of Farrington around. “I had so much fun! I liked all the animals, just like Guatemala,” he said on his way to the bus to leave.
Holding the chickens is the favorite part of many kids’ time at Farrington. It can be frightening at first, especially when they see the dinosaur like feet or the chicken flap her long wings. But remarkably most of the kids face these fears and can hold a chicken by the end of the day. What starts with “No I don’t want to hold it! It’s going to hurt!” moves along to, “Can I just pet her?” Soon after the kids agree to try holding a chicken, and before you know it they are attached to the chicken like a long time pet exclaiming things like “It’s as soft as a fluffy pillow,” and, “I love this little lady!”
The animals are always a highlight of a visit. One girl left saying, “I was scared and now I’m not and I love feeding the goats!” Whether this is the first time or fourth time to Farrington, the kids are excited to see, hold, feed, and pet the animals. Nearly all kids leave here asking to hold the chickens one more time, feed one more leaf to the goats, or pet the soft rabbits once again.