It was the first paper I was ever assigned to write in a college English class. Although I made a "strong C" on that paper, my professor made comments that led me to believe that he was quite curious about the subject matter..."How to Prepare a Chicken from Pen to Table".
You see, we had to write a "How To" paper and well, quite frankly, I really couldn't think of very many things that I had been required to do that I could write about step by step and THEN it hit me...I could write about my "chicken plucking day"!
I'm still not really sure what my mother was thinking. I was perhaps 11 or 12 years old, when she announced to me that we would be going to my grandparent's house for the weekend. And it was not to be just for a relaxed visit. This was a trip with a purpose. We would be clearing out the chicken yard and stocking my grandma's freezer...it was "chicken plucking day". Hmmm...I wasn't totally clear what all that entailed, but I can definitely say that I was NOT excited for that little event.
My excitement waned even more when I learned that I was also expected to PARTICIPATE in the event! WHAT?! I didn't know "nothin' bout pluckin' no chickens"! What was my mother THINKING?! Well, I knew WHY this was being done, I just didn't know why I had to assist. You see, my grandparents lived in a very rural area; on a farm actually. They lived on whatever they raised...produce from the garden, pork from the pigs, milk from the cow and eggs and poultry from the chickens, of course. I suppose I had no idea HOW that chicken got to the table, but I was about to find out. And in the process, NEVER look at chicken the same way again!
So, as I stood at my station, sweat dripping down my forehead, I watched in awe as my mother and aunt CHASED (YES! actually physically RAN...) chickens around the yard. And then to my horror swung those chicken around by the neck to kill them! OK...so I now knew not only where the saying, "wringing one's neck" came from, but also "running around like a chicken with its head cut off" meant. Did you know that they REALLY do that?! After those creatures ended up for a soak in that boiling water, they landed on MY table.
Those wet, stinky "yard birds" were thrown across my table next and I couldn't IMAGINE what I was suppose to do with those creatures. UGH!!! The smell was horrific...SURELY they did not expect me to TOUCH them! Indeed,I found out that they did. My task, I quickly found out, was to PLUCK THOSE CHICKENS! Oh, I tried to get out of it by telling them that I didn't know HOW to pluck a chicken...NO PROBLEM; we'll show you how. GREAT! Just what a girl ALWAYS wanted to learn how to do. And so I was shown how pluck those feathers right out of the chickens. Thankfully, there was someone else plucking chickens too, because I chose to only pull one out at a time, while they were grabbing handfuls.
So, with sweat dripping and the stench of boiling chickens permeating the air, late in the afternoon our task was finally finished. I couldn't wait to get a bath and cool off. As I was doing so, I could hear preparations for dinner being made in the kitchen. Making my way to the table I barely had time to ask what we were eating when my grandmother plopped a huge platter down in the middle of the table. What was on it? Those very CHICKENS that I had spent so much time with that day!!! Suddenly, my appetite disappeared. There was NO WAY I could eat fried chicken tonight or any day in the near future!
What did I learn from my "Chicken Plucking Day"? Only that I hope to NEVER have to participate in anything like that again!