Sunday, February 5, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 36th Installment

our victim. Russ and I would grab the chicken hook, a knife that resembled a machete but with a blunt end with a hook to help select a chicken out of the bunch. We would take the hen to the chopping block that was a ruby black from the evidence of other chicken dinners. One of us would take the chicken by the legs and gather the wings into our grasp then hold the chicken onto the block and the other would swing the chicken hook. Once, when I was little and trying to hold the chicken on the block, the powerful bird pulled its wings free at the moment of the beheading. I’d lost the wings but held onto the legs. As the blood gushed, the wings flapped; everyone got splattered, and I got covered in chicken blood. I also got a good talking to about doing something right or not doing it at all. I told Edith at least I didn't release the chicken all together which would have not only allowed it to flap its wings but to run around. Seeing a chicken with its head cut off running at you is the sort of thing nightmares are made of. After the beheading, we’d cut and gut the bird, rinse it well in one tub of water, dip it into a pot of boiling water, and pluck off all the feathers. Then we’d roll up a newspaper sheet, light fire to the paper, and use this torch to burn off the pin feathers by passing the flame over the chicken. Edith or Gusty would cut up the bird body roll the pieces in seasoned flour and fry it. Chicken dinner: from the coop to the table in a couple of hours.
        Another thing I remember is that we got the baby chicks in the mail. That's right, Edith would call some ranch service and order 48 chicks, and in a couple of days the chicks would come in a box with holes in the sides, of course. We would race to the mail box, collect the chicks, and while we were carrying the box to the coop, we would peer in the holes to see a small black dot in the middle of a yellow feather ball looking back at us; or we would stick our finger in the holes to feel the warm/soft birds moving around. Then we’d open the box and dump out the chicks. In my mind there is nothing cuter than a box of baby chicks. I think about those chicks when it’s cold. Vern would hang a heat lamp two feet off the floor, and it would cast about a three foot circle of light. In the morning, all the chicks would be crowded under the heat in a perfect circle of yellow fluff with a chick or two pushing to get in under the light.

Then one day the Challenge Dairy Company stopped buying eggs, and our chicken business was over;

500 more words tomorrow

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