writing contest entry
Growing up on a small family farm I was constantly exposed to chickens (especially poop between the toes because we walked everywhere bare footed). I would just always run to one of the many creeks that ran through our Kanawah County West Virginia farm to wash it off and go on. I knew how to feed the chickens, clean their cages, fetch the eggs (even from mean pecking hens) on the farm you start learning very early how to pitch in and do the chores but I learned a very dear lesson at the beak of a very small chick.That little chicken grew up and became the loudest crowing rooster we had on the farm!
One day my sister Patty and I accompanied our dad to visit some relatives. They had just had a hatching a few days before and with me being age five and my sister a mere age 3 we were always fascinated, as are most children, with new born babies of any kind. We sat at the box and made little kid small talk over the baby chicks for the entire visit. When it was time for us to leave, knowing we had chickens and a chicken house, the folks we were visiting told Patty (my little sister) and myself to pick us out a baby chick to take home. I am sure they assumed that we would place them with the other chickens when they were a bit bigger.
We held our chickens for the ride home in daddy's truck and they were so soft and fluffy. We both just instantly loved our new found pets. We put them at our bedside in a box with food and water and enjoyed those sweet peep, peep, peeping sounds as we fell asleep each night.
A few days later our dad noticed we were wallowing them too much and informed us we could only hold them a few minutes a day or we might cause them to get sick or die. We quickly agreed that we surely would not want to cause any harm to them, after all we loved them with all our heart, as a child will.
The first couple days were ok and we did only as we were told as dad watched out for the chicks to make sure they were doing well and that we were obeying his instructions.
One day dad had to go to town and my sister and I stayed at home with mom. Mom did not know what dad had told us so we decided to sneak a few extra holds and pets to our baby chicks. As children do, we got lost in time and before long we had our baby chicks out in the yard playing with them and nestling them to our faces and necks and enjoying that beautiful peeping.
I had gone around the corner of the house into the side yard lost in the joy of my new little friend while my sister stayed in the back yard. Suddenly, I heard my dad's voice in a not so happy nature say, "Patty Ann, what are you doing with that chicken? I thought I told you NOT to be playing with it"! I heard my sister begin to cry as my dad swatted her fanny and took her chicken. I was so scared because of all things I did not want my dad to do the same to me.
Being brilliant as children of that age can be, I quickly shoved my baby chick under my arm as my dad rounded the corner. I appeared totally innocent so he turned and walked away.
I quickly removed that fluffy baby chick from under my arm with the plan of rushing it in the other door before my dad discovered that I was also disobeying him.
To my displeasure when I took the chick from under my arm it's little head just fell to one side.
OH NO! I had smothered it! My thoughts of dad being mad all disappeared, I instantly had tears running down my cheeks. The next thing that happened even confounds me to this day, but I pulled open that little chicken's beak and I gave like three short puffs of air into its mouth and repeated this event twice. To my most happy surprise, that little chicken perked right up and started peeping again. I was able to get it back to the box even with this heroic effort behind me and the baby chicken nestled in my tiny cupped hands. I returned it to the box without my dad ever knowing what had taken place.
Many years later I went to nursing school and became a registered nurse and experienced that joy of saving lives often. Nearing the end of my dad's life I was called to stay with him in the hospital and he complimented me on my accomplishments of education and on my career choice and then he said something that was so profound It made me simply fall speechless.
"Little girl I knew you were bound for doing something great with your life as I watched you revive that little chicken you had stuck under your arm" I felt so embarrassed, but after a few minutes of deadly silence he began to laugh and said your ole dad is never easily fooled". I hugged him and told him I was sorry for what I had done all those years ago and he said, "Just remember I am not thinking of your past I am complimenting you on what you did with it. You may not have ever know you had the talent to stay calm and save a life if it had not been for that little chicken".
Dad passed away in his sleep within a few hours but I will never forget how he used something as simple as a little chicken to help guide me in my life.