a girl and her hen

In early August, we went to our first 4-H poultry meeting.
The other moms mentioned that the kids have to stand in line and hold their chickens during showmanship at the fair. For an hour or more!
My heart sank. There was no way Lauren was going to be able to do that.
She was terrified of her chicken and I had to bribe/beg/threaten her to hold her inside the coop, even for 10 minutes.
On the way home from that meeting I broke the news to Lauren.
She cried the rest of the way home. And for days afterward. Every time she thought about it she'd say she couldn't do it. Didn't want to do it.
But we kept going to the meetings. I could tell she was trying so hard during the meetings to keep it together in front of the other kids who seemed to be naturals at this whole chicken thing.
She still flinched and yelled out when Elizabeth would flap her wings. She still didn't like being anywhere near the bird's beak or feet. I had to constantly remind her to put her shoulders down and try to relax.
Then one day, she went into the coop without being made to.
She sat on the ground and coaxed Elizabeth into her lap where the bird promptly fell asleep.
That was about 3 weeks ago.
It's been all smiles and hugs and soaring self-confidence since then....

At this morning's meeting our poultry leader said to me, "I cannot believe how far Lauren has come in the last month! She's a different child with that hen! I'm so proud of her!"
And I had to fight back tears. Because I'm so proud of her, too!
Even if she doesn't win. Even if her hen gets disqualified. Even if the judges don't see in Elizabeth what the rest of us do, it's still worth every second and every penny.
The things Lauren has learned have been worth far more than any blue ribbon.

Tomorrow she {and our other Fair hens} get baths.
I'm not sure who will be more traumatized afterwards, me or the hens. :)

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