While in South Africa, we had a family outing to a kid's farm. I know, Africa conjures up images of lions, elephants, giraffes and other fabulous beasts, not livestock, but the safari experience was not to be for the Geekyfamily. The game parks in South Africa, all at least a day's drive from where we were staying, are in parts of the country where malaria is endemic. Small children and breast feeding mothers can't safely take antimalarials, and besides, the kids would probably be eyed by any savvy lion as tasty little morsels, so we missed out on the lions, and chalked this one up to "things that we couldn't do because we have kids and to be held against them when, as teenagers, they make unreasonable parental requests".
Instead, I joined my South African cousins and their children on a trip to "Flag Animal Farm". As family attractions go, this was actually a very lovely one. Post and rail fences surrounded green pastures filled with impossibly glossy and plump donkeys, goats and cows, the scene was Disney style bucolic. The smaller animals (anything small enough to get under the lower rung of pasture fences, which were about 2 feet from the ground) wandered freely, mingling with the guests. Tiny piglets, baby goats, ducks - proper white story book ones, and colorful roosters and chickens all roamed around between the bounce house, the lunch tables and the pony rides.
The piglets and goats liked to be petted, and also fed from the bag of bran we were given as part of our entry fee. Geekygirl is cautious of new things, and there had been a lot of new things on this trip, new people, new bed, new food, but after a wander around the farm she became bold enough to approach some of the animals. One attraction was a brood of fluffy little chicks and their mother hen. They roamed around between the lunch tables, peeping and pecking. When the chicken family stopped beneath our table Geekygirl asked "can I feed them?". Delighted by her burgeoning enthusiasm, I relied "Sure" and gave her a handful of the animal fodder. As I reached for my camera and she went to sprinkle the food, disaster struck. Momma hen, maybe feeling that her babies were threatened, charged and pecked at Geekygirl, and in the blink of an eye we went from adorable photo moment to chicken attack meltdown. (maybe I should have been focused less on photography and more on parenting).
The chicken inflicted minimal actual damage (though it did draw a speck of blood, nasty creature), but emotionally, the afternoon was over. Geekgirl was afraid to go anywhere else on the farm, for fear that the chicken was after her. We decided that at this point a pony ride probably wasn't a good idea, so headed back to the house.
Considering all of the things that she could have been bitten by in Africa (just on the estate we had the option of green or black mambas, giant spiders and scorpions), I guess we were lucky that all we encountered was a disgruntled chicken at what will be known forever more as "The evil petting zoo".