The Head Came Off The Chicken

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Mar 22, 2002
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Chicken with it's head cut off; even people who've seen the event use the expression frequently. I've seen it. Many here in HI Forum have too, when 90% of Americans 100 years ago made their living off the land it was as certain as Fall following Summer.

Yesterday I was running around like a Chicken with it's head cut off. Just some personal stuff had me jumping. Today I'm recovered, and remark to myself the Sun is still in the sky and my keyboard intact in front of me.
When you are overreacting, and running every which way, you don't know it. You don't always see it clearly. You bark out comands and observations as if you're sane, but you're not. We all do it sometimes, but it's important to remember that no matter how wise you get, or old, it can still happen to you, and it is always good to slow down and remember you're OK.

That said, the following story has nothing to do with peace, or being able to laugh at yourself. It is merely offered for your entertainment.

>>>>>>>>>>>

In Nitro, West Virginia, back in the days when it was small, lived a young boy of three years with his Brother and Sister. They played on a lawn with Chiggers, saw Firefly's in the evening and goblins in telephone poles. Every once in a while my Dad managed to get a day off from the Mine, and he and Mother would go off by themselves, or kick us out of the house. An old Pickup truck would arrive at the curb, and a slip-shod fellow dressed in checkered shirts and jeans would haul us to the country to babysit. They threw us into the yard with strict prohibitions. Seems we weren't allowed to go anywhere or do anything.

"Remember when you got lost?" The old women asked me, "Stay in this yard. Don't get in Fred's way while he does the chores. Don't mess with the dog, and don't stick your fingers into the Gold Fish bowl. "

I didn't like this place much. Too many rules and there was something strange about the people who lived there. I don't know what it was, but I sensed it. Mother had no idea of course. Grownups didn't get it. She hadn't a clue as to what really went on after she drove away down the dirt road or put us into Fred's truck. It was different. There was something wrong, though I didn't know what.

I couldn't go along with Fred; Fred was mad, and he was angry at us because we didn't follow the rules. There were a lot of rules and they mostly meant no.
He was sullen and preoccupied. We were having fried chicken for lunch on this day, and he broke his own rules and spoke to me

"You ever seen a chicken with it's head cut off?" He asked. He was even happy. "I bet you never did." It was a long way up to see Fred's face, and I didn't like meeting his eyes. But he was savoring this, I could tell.

"No."
"Well, you're going to today."
"Really? Can I watch?'
"Oh, you can watch alright. You're not supposed to watch. You want to see it? The chicken runs around all over the yard. You're not supposed to see it."
"I want to see."
He looked at me quietly for a moment.
"Ok then. I'll tell the Missus it's OK today only, this one time. You're going to see it. You aint gonna like it, but I think it'll do you some good to see it"

"I want to see." He might take it back I knew. He might change his mind. There was no telling. It was like that. You couldn't trust things around here. They had rules, invisible lines around everything. You couldn't see them but you knew they were there just the same. It would take a long time to learn them all, and I never would. I didn't ever want to be here long enough to learn them. Things happened here.

"Gracie may not like this. Your Mother might not approve of me doing this."

"No no, it'll be OK." I said. I wanted to see this. Despite the bad stuff, this was worth seeing, if only I could see it without having to learn the rest of it, the other stuff.
"That one there," he said, "he's had a good life and he's worth somthing too. We usually don't kill those. He's been safe enough up to now. You think we should take him?"
"No," I said. I hoped this was right. You never knew.
"We'll just see. You know, bad things can happen on a farm. You can get hurt here. It's not the city where you're from, with your momma and car. Remember when you got lost and I had to find you?"
He'd been real mad. I remembered.
"You weren't where you were supposed to be," He grumbled. "I had to drop what I was doing and find you. Don't do that again." There was just the ghost of the anger he'd had.
"I wont." I said this quiet. I hoped we wouldn't stop at this part, the bad part.
"Accidents happen to people when they don't follow what they're supposed to. You have to learn about that. They don't teach that to you."

I was surprised to see him smile. He was talking softer. He normally didn't talk at all and when he did he was mad and you didn't want to hear his voice.


Later in the morning he took a chicken from the bunch. It was the one earlier he'd pointed to.
"Which one you think I should take?"
"I don't know." I didn't think he would kill the one he liked.
But he put its head on a wooden stump. He had me stand well back, maybe 20 feet. The dog was on a chain nearby and watched. I was glad he was on a chain. I didn't like that dog. I didn't like the man but I wanted to see this chicken.
"You sure you want to see this?"
"I can look." I said it tough. I wasn't the baby he said I was.
"Don't you get any blood on you." He told me. "You stay back. I'll get the blame if you get any blood on you."
The axe did a movement. It didn't look like much happened. I was disapointed. I wasn't ready. I missed it somehow. I didn't get to see the good part.
The chicken ran around the yard without it's head, just like he said it would. It ran around spraying the blood. I went a little closer and some blood got on me. It was just a little bit. It didn't really count because the chicken wasn't moving much by the time I got it.

He grabbed the neck and held the bird in front of me. If he expected me to be scared he was wrong. Somehow I'd gotten to see this and I wasn't in trouble. Probably if he thought about it too much, he'd see I'd broken a rule and I was in trouble. I had to keep him from thinking that.

"It's just a little blood." I told him. I smiled. I'd show him, but not too much or I'd get in trouble.
"No one will know."
"They'd better not," he said. He looked at me. It was the most he'd ever looked at me.
"I told you accidents can happen to people and even little kids if they don't follow the rules. I'm only looking after you. You wouldn't want this to happen to you, would you?"

I knew by his tone he wasn't going to blow up.

We had fried chicken for lunch.
"I guess Fred let you see him kill the bird," the old woman said. "That's him you're eating right now, right there on your plate. What do you think of that?"
I didn't want to tell her anything more than I had to.
"It's Ok," I said.

It was warm and juicy. It was OK, and I was hungry. I still knew there was something wrong with this place, even if I liked the chicken.



munk
 
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Two sayings I have always heard but never hit home till I lived on a farm.

Like a chicken.... Never fully appreciated that till I actually did it.:thumbup:

Like a hen on a Junebug. Wow they really do go after them.

Munk,

You can't keep chickens in the city limits anymore in Nitro, I remember when my nbr. on Main ave had them when I was a kid in 62 or 63.
 
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Thank you.

That was really fun to read. Well, not really fun, but good. It had me hooked in that look at the screen through my fingers sort of way. Eerie. The feeling was familiar but I've never experienced exactly what happened there. But that feeling, cold in your stomach unease, I have felt.
 

Fiddleback

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When I was just starting college I worked on a little farm. One of the days he hired me was chicken slaughtering day. We hung them upside down under a tree with coathanger wire. They didn't run around, but they sure did struggle after head removal. That part was my job. He gathered them up and hung them. I took the heads. His wife dipped them into the scalding water, wiped off the feathers, and gutted them. What a day. The beer at the end of that day was well deserved and surely savored.
 
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Interesting read, Munk.

I am not a city kid, and I am not a country kid.
I am a base kid, An AF Brat. Bases are I suppose somewhat like a medium small town, 1960's style.

My Dad was a pilot, and a Physician, a Flight Surgeon.
He and my Mom adopted my twin brother and I while stationed at McDill AFB, Fla in 1958 or early 1959. By July of 59, we were transferred to a new assignment, Elmendorf AFB, Anchorage, Alaska.

We lived in Base Quarters, a duplex, modest by anyone's standards.
Dad worked wierd hours, flew alot, and was a pretty busy guy.
My Dad had one quirk I'll NEVER understand.
He LOVED CHICKENS!

He built some cages of wood and chicken wire, and we had chickens in the basement of that house. I remember vaguely going down there to get eggs, at maybe age 4, and being scared to death of those damn birds.
One summer, I remember Dad coming out front where my brother, a couple friends and I were playing. In one hand he had a hatchet, in the other, a chicken.
There is (was?) a wooded median in the main drag onto Elmendorf.
We all trooped after him, across the road to those woods, stopping when he found a suitable stump.
Like you, I don't remember seeing the hatchet fall, just him chasing after the headless chicken. I don't remember much else, except him and my Mom arguing later that night, presumably over us 4 yr olds seeing that chicken's demise.

I never got around to talking to my Dad about that day, before he passed last Mar 22. I kinda wish I had.

M/Gen GB Dettinger, USAF MC Ret
1921-2005
Rest in Peace, Dad, I miss you dearly
 

Fiddleback

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Thanks for that post DD.

My roomate at FSU thought I was nuts when I built a chicken coup in our vast backyard. It worked out well though because girls always wanted to see the chickens. It was a perfect way to seperate them from the "herd." After he was used to the idea I went and bought him a baby "chick." What I didn't tell him was that it was a turkey chick rather than a chicken. He kept it in a box in his room while it was small. That thing got bigger than his beagle before he came asking me what I had done. Turkeys are frail when they are young, and I don't think it made it to maturity. I always thought that would have been funny.:D
 
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Turkey chick. Hee.

You're not going to pull any tricks like that if I come see you in ATL, are you?

Munk, that's a damn good story, brother. Stephen King, only better.

John
 
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Thinking back, as a youngster, I saw chickens being slaughtered on a cousin's farm, and I did not find it disturbing at all. It was interesting to have the origins of the famous phrase so vividly explained, but it wasn't upsetting or disturbing. I suspect I might find it disturbing now. Odd.
 

Fiddleback

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Nope John, I'm married now. No more livestock allowed. Until we retire onto the farm at least. Then I plan to raise me some goats and chickens and one pig at a time. All the meat a man could need.

Gimme a call bro you got a standing invite. My wife is a helluva cook and we got a spare bedroom if you consume too much Sierra Nevada.

OT got a new beer cooler for the shop last weekend. Went to the park with Hannah and when I got back Leah had stocked that bad boy with a GREAT beer selection. Stouts, pale ales, lots of great microbrews. That damn thing has sections. Theres a lager section (containing no crappy pseudo beers by anheiser bush or such the like), an ale section, etc. My wife is good.
 

Fiddleback

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I'd say she's a keeper. I knew it right away too. I met my wife on a friday, fell for her immediately, and she moved in with me two days later. That was ten years ago this June. I've heard people say they don't believe in love at first sight, but I beg to differ. I put my wife's name on my bank accounts 72 hours after I met her. We still share those same accounts.
 
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I'd say she's a keeper. I knew it right away too. I met my wife on a friday, fell for her immediately, and she moved in with me two days later. That was ten years ago this June. I've heard people say they don't believe in love at first sight, but I beg to differ. I put my wife's name on my bank accounts 72 hours after I met her. We still share those same accounts.
__________________
God Bless America!

Good for you! :) :thumbup:
 
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YO MUNK...are you a West Virginian too? I knew about Hollow D, no wonder you make sense to me. I had a similar experience about age seven, but without all the Gothic overtones....just my Grand Dad and I...the same guy that taught me to shoot the last (guy, bird, deer) in line so the others wouldn't react.........
 
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jurassicnarc44 said:
YO MUNK...are you a West Virginian too? I knew about Hollow D, no wonder you make sense to me. I had a similar experience about age seven, but without all the Gothic overtones....just my Grand Dad and I...the same guy that taught me to shoot the last (guy, bird, deer) in line so the others wouldn't react.........

The funny thing is Jurassic, is Munk for a while as a kid lived in Nitro, which was the town I grew up in! I still drive by it on my way home from Charleston.

Also Krull lives in Ritchie Co I believe.
 

Fiddleback

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She good Rob. Getting sassy. When she's sassy my wife gives me eyes you wouldn't believe. Aparantly my wife thinks she gets it from my side of the family. (Coonass and all you know.) She's probably right I still got a lotta cajun in me. Last weekend was cold so I made a big ole dark roux gumbo. Chicken and sausage. Have a cajun make you gumbo one day if you ever can. Its not done right anywhere else. It took Hannah a minute to get into it, but she finally did. She likes spicy food too. I started her on black pepper when she still didn't have teeth. ;)
 
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Small world..I also use to live in Charleston and Nitro. I use to work right beside the Fike / Artel Superfund clean up site. I can remember going across the interstate bridge really, really early in the morning and the air would be a sick orange color.

WV seems to be in my blood...I've moved out-of-state 4 times, and always end up returning.

Pam
 
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She good Rob. Getting sassy. When she's sassy my wife gives me eyes you wouldn't believe. Aparantly my wife thinks she gets it from my side of the family. (Coonass and all you know.) She's probably right I still got a lotta cajun in me. Last weekend was cold so I made a big ole dark roux gumbo. Chicken and sausage. Have a cajun make you gumbo one day if you ever can. Its not done right anywhere else. It took Hannah a minute to get into it, but she finally did. She likes spicy food too. I started her on black pepper when she still didn't have teeth.

That's really good news Andy:) My Anna is near her age and I thought of her often when she was going thru that tough time awhile back...


I don't think I've ever had authentic gumbo--but I definitely want to someday!!
 
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