Special by Name, Special by Nature
Whilst it is hard to define, it is easy to feel, just what makes Special special. For it takes but a moment with this happy-go-lucky little chap to intuit this.
With a difficult birth robbing him of vital oxygen, Special was made even more so. For a ‘special needs’ little guy he became, and that’s okay because we have a special place in our hearts and herd for animals such as he.
And although stunted in growth, nothing has stunted the little fellow’s zest for life and the many delights it offers.
Delights such as: a sweet chaffy blend made just for him that never fails to whip those adorable little lips of his into a frantic frenzy; or that special spot he has found in his straw-lined shelter he has claimed as his own, the one that offers both a cool breeze and a perfect view to see when his favorite humans come into view; and then there are his special buddies to make his world complete – the stoic Rammie Baa Baa inspiring him to be likewise, cheeky Harmony and her many endearing antics that she is keen to teach, and sweet little Miss T’fy, whose dinner he often shares.
But alas, far from kindness – and far from being the mindless automatons industry and our unjust animal protection legislation would have us believe – are most sheep, and indeed all of the unfortunate animals who have been labelled as “farm” animals.
A view that has been based on convenience and not fact.
And just as it has been a cognitive bias of our kind to view these hapless animals this way, we would do well to appreciate what science informs us, and that is that these animals too are possessed with their own cognitive biases that shape their perception of the world.
Sheep exposed to rough and callous treatment, loud noises and frightening experiences are less likely to show curiosity and a willingness to explore, whilst those treated with kindness tend to view the world through a more optimistic lens.
With personality traits as diverse as our own, sheep can never be categorised on a group level, for each and every one is special.
And so, whilst our society continues to make legal the abduction of their lives, we need to remember that this likewise erodes our compassion, something that is long overdue for our special consideration.
Little did we know, on the first night we met Soldier, that the inky darkness of the sky above was to be foreboding of her fate. She, patiently waiting roadside with the humans who had come to her rescue after the vehicle collision that had rendered her immobile.
With his glistening red comb flopped outrageously over his eyes and his body ensconced by the most silky soft of feather boas, made of the real deal, Earl’s haute couture may not look out of step on the catwalk of Fashion Week or even the cover of Vogue.
With no need for a Coco Chanel creation or Gucci accessory, our Paris and Nicky Hilton are glamourous girls.
Having difficultly seeing his new world around him, at first Peaky Blinders would scoot away at the mere hint of our presence. But now not so.
Within metres of the road the tiny bird fluttered and flipped. At first thought to be a grey pigeon clipped by a fast-moving car.
As farmed animals, in the scheme of things, it never ends well for them. And every action thus far afforded this mother and child had fuelled their point of view.
There is little doubt Brunswick is a beautiful bird. His magnificent plumage captures the eye, whilst the brilliant radiance of his comb and wattles sets the heart a-flutter.
Around 4.40 pm on the 11th of January 2023, hope met the reality of our promise, as the last Silkie rooster was removed from the tiny wire prison that had been his home for heaven knows how long.
Just over a week on from that fateful day when the plight of hundreds upon hundreds of sweet Silkie chickens came under our radar. And so too our kindness.