Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Killing Chickens" By Abraham Lincoln

Chickens will stretch out their necks if you hold them by the body and enclose the wings and feet with your hand. The chicken stretches its head out and the boy lowers the body over a chopping block. When the neck rests on the block the hand ax cuts off the head.

Most people do not know that, but those of us who killed chickens to eat knew that a small boy can hold a chicken in one hand and cut its head off with a small hatchet.

You can hold the body until the chicken bleeds out and there is no splattering blood. And we knew that a chicken will run around the yard without its head if you drop it on the ground right after you cut the head off.

Those who have raised chickens for their eggs and to eat know that a chicken flops the instant the head is cut off and unless you get out of the way, you are going to be splattered with blood. Or, you can hold it until it stops bleeding.

My neighbor lady, Esta Flory, hung chickens by their feet on the clothesline. Esta would walk along and grab a chicken by the head and stretched its neck and then sliced its head off with a sharp butcher knife.

They would flop around some, but being upside down, they soon quit and just hung there with wings outstretched.

She never seemed to get splattered with blood and might kill several chickens at one time. I always got splattered if I hung them up by their feet.

Mother nearly always chopped off their heads with a small hatchet. My dad sometimes picked them up by their heads and swung them in a circle until the head was twisted off the body.

My family was eating dinner and Patty had fried chicken on the table. I remembered how mother used to tell me, “Abe go out and pick one of the old hens that stopped laying and cut her head off.”

I knew the old hens as well as the younger layers so picking one wasn’t a problem. I did sometimes wonder or try to imagine if they knew one of them was going to end up on the dinner table. As soon as I walked into the chicken house, they began squawking and running around, kicking up dust and old feathers. Some that I had my hand on squeezed out and ran away. In the end I grabbed one and chopped off its head.
Cutting off the head was the start and after that the chicken had to have its feathers plucked off, and the guts removed. Mother always wanted me to save the gizzard, heart and liver and if there were any eggs in the egg sack, she wanted me to save that too. Those parts and pieces were always fried and became choice parts at the dinner table.

At the dinner table, I volunteered to demonstrate how to kill a chicken and clean it. But one of my four daughters jumped up and left the table in disgust. So I never got to show my kids how to kill and dress a chicken. The youngest girl was disappointed when I told her that Tyson doesn’t manufacture chickens.

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