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Medieval mischief with a very special support hen

Introducing Lady Harvest Moon – a support hen with an unusual hobby

The benefits of hens as support animals have been widely documented and we love hearing first hand from our supporters how hens have helped to make a positive impact on their lives. So, you can imagine how thrilled we were when hen lover Alyx got in touch to tell us about a very special girl indeed – the rather fantastically named and fabulous looking Lady Harvest Moon. 

Alyx is no stranger to the life of a hen owner, having kept them as pets since 2014. As she explains, not all hens are suited to being support companions, but Alyx has been truly blessed with Lady Harvest Moon, who arrived with her as a housewarming gift! 

As well as her showstopping looks, Harvest caught our attention because of her somewhat unusual hobby. Not content with a free-range retirement, happily pecking away at home, Harvest regularly accompanies her owner to Medieval events. We were itching to find out more, so we caught up with Alyx to talk all things hen related. 

Hi Alyx, what an incredible story! Can you tell us a little bit more about the events that you attend with Harvest? 

I belong to an organisation called The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) and it is ALOT of fun. We are a medieval recreation group but we focus on the fun bits. We keep alive many traditions such as mead making; fabric making, dyeing and patterning; dance song and other crafts. We also have tournaments wherein our ‘Brave Knights’ go to battle. One of our biggest events is Clinton War, where every year, a group of people in funny outfits take over a horse pasture in the ton of Clinton and go to battle.  It really is an amazing scene.  

What role does Lady Harvest Moon play?  

I take Harvest with me as often as I can. I have PTSD, severe anxiety, executive dysfunction and possibly ADHD. In short, things that are easy for other people are often not easy for me. Harvest enables me to interact with other people while keeping me calm.  

So, you are a big believer in the benefits of ‘support hens’?  

Absolutely, yes. She is not, in fact, the first support hen I have had. My first was Lady Poofington of Poofington Hall (known as Poof to her friends). She was a very tiny white silkie, and I noticed during a trip to the vet how utterly charmed people were by her presence. I also noticed how easy it was for me to  just have a ‘normal’ interaction with other people whilst she was tucked into my arms.  

She was once mistaken for a kitten by a four-year-old, who had many opinions on why a kitten should not say “ buhk buhk”!! 

Furthermore, she seemed entirely calm about the whole thing, and eventually, I realised Poof liked these trips too. 

Over time, Poof passed away – as all good pets sadly do. It was a while before Harvest became part of the family and during that time, my life took a turn for the worse. I ended up homeless, developed two auto-immune disorders as a result and was entirely unsupported. However, over time, I managed to get a place of my own again. Harvest and her ‘sister’ Archangel were a housewarming gift from a friend. I quickly realised that Harvest had the same calm and social nature that Poof did, so I began taking her with me on trips, to enable me to function better in the world.  

What role does Harvest play in the SCA events? 

Lady Harvest Moon plays no actual role in any of the events – apart from charming the masses and enabling me to interact with people. She loves to watch the fighting – so many pretty colours and flashing swords!  

How does she help to support you on a daily basis? 

Harvest’s role as a support animal is largely voluntary on her part. She seems to understand when I am upset or close to breaking and will push herself into my lap, sing me little chicken songs, snuggle close and let me know she’s there.  She sems to be deeply empathetic. In fact, she once hopped – unprompted – onto the lap of a young woman who happened to be having a panic attack. Proving that Harvest is indeed, very intuitive and has compassion for those around her. She has pushed her way onto my lap whilst I have been having an anxiety attack and reacts when I am sad or scared.  

Would you recommend hens as pets?  

I most definitely do recommend hens as pets; they are lovely and underrated companions. However, I do not recommend all hens as support animals. Harvest is a sweet and caring girl who naturally fits this role. Archangel is chaos with feathers and much less suited to supporting. The last time I collapsed in a blubbering mess, she stood on me and screamed because I was late with her treats! In my humble opinion, not all hens are created equal in the empathy stakes! 

Finally, if you could describe Lady Harvest Moon in just 3 words, what would they be? 

Wisdom, beauty and grace.  

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