Advice for Chicks [a guest post by Karen Swallow Prior]

Karen Swallow Prior has made me think - and laugh - a lot in the short time I've known her on the Internet. I'm looking forward to meeting her in person next month at the Festival of Faith and Writing!

Egg production by my small brood of hens has slowed considerably, so last Saturday I went to Tractor Supply where little cheeping tufts of fur are plentiful this time of year. I came home with a half dozen lemon and honey colored puff balls that could hardly hold themselves up. I swear, by the next morning they had sprouted from practically embryonic to full-fledged teenagehood, sassing and chirping and tearing up in their big wooden box topped by a red glowing heat lamp.

Every day, I hold each one and talk to them so they will come to know my voice and my touch. These are some of the things I find myself saying when I find myself alone with them in the cool, dark garage where they will stay until they are big enough in a few weeks to join the grown up girls.

I hope they will remember me then.

1. Stay under the heat lamp.
2. Sleep as much as want.
3. Don’t sleep in your food.
4. Pecking orders are a fact of life—get used to it.
5. Venture out from the flock from time to time.
6. Huddle together to stay warm.
7. Don’t kick sawdust in your water.
8. Fluff those feathers with vim and vigor.
9. Rest easy in hands that treat you with warmth and kindness.
10. Flee from hands that don’t.
11. Don’t eat your poop.
12. Enjoy your youth. You’re a spring chicken for just a season.

Karen Swallow Prior is a Professor of English at Liberty University. Her books include Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist (Thomas Nelson 2014) and a literary and spiritual memoir, Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me (T. S. Poetry Press 2012). She is a contributing writer for Christianity Today, The Atlantic, In Touch, and Think Christian. Her writing has also appeared at Comment, Relevant, Books and Culture, Fieldnotes, The Well and Salvo. She has spoken at numerous writing conferences including the Festival of Faith and Writing and the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference. Prior is a member of Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States. She lives in rural Virginia with her husband along with sundry dogs, horses, and chickens.

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