Monday, September 26, 2011

Killing Chickens By Abraham Lincoln

My kids didn’t learn very much about feeding themselves. It is easier, for them, to buy a dead chicken at a supermarket, ready to cook and eat.

I suppose they forget to think about how long that chicken has been dead—3 months: a year? They’ll never know how much better a fresh-killed chicken is.

And the chicken soup they eat. That soup: smelling like wet chicken feathers—I can't get it past my nose—it smells, exactly, like the odor when you dip a chicken in scalding hot water prior to plucking all the feathers out.

I used to stay awake at night worrying about my family. How would my family survive if they found themselves on an island—a few palm trees casting shade over a chicken house?

If my kids were not able to buy a chicken ready to heat and eat, they would starve to death. So many children grow up and have not been taught that it is OK to kill a chicken, scald the body, pluck out all the feathers and cut the naked carcass open, reach inside an pull the heart, liver, gizzard, and unlaid eggs out, before pulling the entrails out.

They never watched a chicken being killed. They do not know that a chicken will stretch its neck out over a chopping block—as if wanting its head chopped off. Chickens will only do that if you hold it by the feet and wings and lower it slowly towards the ground or chopping block.

It does it to protect its head from hitting the ground first since you are holding its feet and wings. It holds its head up to avoid the ground or a chopping block: but it results in a perfect decapitation.

Headless chickens actually run away or in circles until their blood is pumped out. You should never hold a chicken and cut off its head because it begins flapping its wings and that splatters blood all over.

In those days, my neighbor lady would tie the chickens to her clothesline by the feet and then grab the head in one hand and cut the head off with a sharp butcher knife. They flop but she could jump back and get away without much blood splatted on her—blood flies in all directions.

My children were grown when I suggested that they learn how to kill and clean a chicken. I said I had learned when I was about 8 years old.

My dad could wring a chicken's neck to kill it, but I never tried doing that. It seemed cruel to me but I suspect it was easy to die that way too.

Silence fell over the dinner table. The oldest child said she thought it was a disgusting subject to talk about at the dinner table—she got up and left. Our baby said it was too gross to talk about things like that while eating a fried chicken dinner.

I don’t suppose KFC will ever taste the same to my kids—some prize pieces were left in the box.


  1. I really enjoy your stories. Keep it up.

  2. I have to say Abe that I agree with you whole-heartedly. It is sad that folks today have no concept of the term "self-reliance". When I bring subjects like this up I always get the whole "why should I when I can just go to the grocery store and get it?". My retort is always "what if that grocery store wasn't there?" Maybe I possess a certain amount of hubris in my self-reliance for I am a woman who can do such a thing as kill a chicken to feed me and mine and I speak loudly about it. I think if more people learned how they would appreciate the fruits of their labors and McDonalds would then become the fond memory.

  3. We were closer to Nature. Helping kill animals, process them and enjoy the ham or the bacon later, in the winter. I don't think people care. I used to get upset with mother who wanted me to pick the peas or pick the green beans. Picking was only part of the job. The hard work was firing up the coal stove in the kitchen in August to can green beans or something else. Steam everywhere. Hot room. I would ask mom why we are canning green beans as you can buy them for a dime at the grocery store. She always said, "You can if you got a dime."


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