Chickens Part Three

So those of you who’ve followed this blog have read of my unusual city-girl version of my farm raising.  You read about the hysterical mail order delivery of 100 live baby chicks and the ensuing medical insanity that followed after.

But what you may not realize during this time was my mother and father were working full time.  And almost NONE of our neighbors had chickens in the back yard.   To me, as a child, we were different, unique, odd.  [A philosophy I’ve learned to love, embrace, waive about like a flag!]  But we were, who we were and that was life.

And death.  I learned a lot about death growing up with our little mini-farm in the back yard.  Because once the surviving chicks grew and matured and laid eggs and hatched them and THOSE chicks grew and matured my mother realized we didn’t need THIS many roosters.  One or two were enough for reproduction purposes.  So once a chick matured and crowed, he was doomed.

Now, those of you who know my mother professionally may be shocked to think of her as a chicken butcher.  My  mother is a fantastic Nurse Practitioner in Pediatrics.  She has a way with babies that is just amazing to watch, especially in the way she handles them.  Her approach to her work and babies is gentle and nurturing.  She diagnoses things in newborns that others won’t have a clue about for years until the symptoms are really apparent in the child.  It’s her gift, and I’m quite proud of her.

But as a child I watched her butcher the young crowing chickens.  She spent many a summer on a farm and was familiar with it.  Yet, sadly we didn’t have any of the basic (much less modern) accouterments that should come with chicken butchering.  So we watcher my mother “make do”.  Something we watched her do a lot of in my childhood, actually.

She’d wring their necks as best she could and then cut off the heads with kitchen scissors and we’d all stand back as the body convulsed around the yard.  That was about as much as I could take and went into the house!  But I do remember when I got older I was roped (ordered, coerced, bribed..whatever) into “helping.”  Luckily, by that time, we’d managed to get a hold of a large tree stump.  With the strategic placement of two nails as sort of a neck guide we’d graduated into “axe chopping” off of chicken heads.   I sucked at that part (yay!) so I was delegated into feather plucking status.

My job was to take a dead chicken by the feet, once flopping was over (gak!) and dunk it into hot water and then cold water to loosen the feathers.  Then I was to pluck it clean and hand it over for the next step in making this thing dinner.

I didn’t have a problem with the concept.  I’m very much NOT a vegetarian and I know where our meat comes from.  And since I’ve always liked cleaning things, seeing the progress of the feathers coming off, I had no problem doing the job.

Isn’t it amusing, though.  The things we did as children, or experienced in childhood, or did as parents, (or did in a drunken state as adults!) they might come as such a surprise to many who know us.  Everyone truly has a million stories if they just look.  It’s the reason I DON’T strive to give my children a “perfect” childhood.  I want them to have a few stories of being different and unique.  I want them to both hate and enjoy their childhood, so I give them a mixture.

After all, they’re going to go through the “I hate my parents” stage anyway.  Might as well live up to the hype!

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