Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Killing Chickens

It was bad enough to kill a chicken. I was in the 4H Club and the chickens were my project. I had to feed them, collect the eggs and occasionally kill and pluck a chicken. Daddy made me a place to do it near the chicken pen. He put 2 nails about 2 inches apart in a 4x4 board. I would put the chicken's neck between the nails and then bend the bent nails around, trapping the chicken's head. I would then stretch the chicken by pulling on its legs and when I got the neck good and straight I would chop off the head just behind the nails with my little hatchet. It was important to have a bucket of boiling water ready at hand to immediately dip the chicken into while still holding it by the legs. It wasn't so easy though as the chicken without a head was flopping around furiously as though trying to escape. After it was dunked for only a few seconds, because we didn't want to cook it, I then hung it from the two nails in the fence post by its feet, once again turning the bent nails to hold the feet while I pulled all the very hot feathers off the poor bird. These were good lessons in responsibility. The chickens were my responsibility.

I cannot imagine how traumatic it must have been for a young girl to kill those chickens. My chickens always come from the grocery store. I see where they get the saying, "Running around like a chicken with its head cut off." Mom was certainly taught to be responsible from an early age. That is why she taught me the same lesson, but my responsibilities were more mundane like cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming, doing the laundry and dishes. I had to wash dishes every day before I was even tall enough to reach the sink. I remember standing on a step stool to do the dishes every night. We never did have an automatic dishwasher, although some of my friends did. Nor did we have a clothes dryer, so I had to hang the clothes outside on the clothes line after the wash cycle finished (at least we did have a washing machine!). Then when the clothes were dry I brought them inside, folded them, hung them in the closet, and ironed dad's shirts with a steam iron, even when it was 100 degrees, which was quite often in Southern California. We did not have an air conditioner for our small house, but when I was a teenager we finally did get a swamp cooler which cooled the living room, but not very effectively. When I left home and got married, the first thing I bought was an automatic dishwasher, and the second was a clothes washer and dryer.

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