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Friday, July 22, 2005

'Cheep' Entertainment

I forget why, but as I was driving to work a couple days ago, I was thinking about my home town.

I grew in a small town in Wyoming. I'm guessing a population of about 5,000 in the winter, and 6,000 in the summer. The extra thousand consisting of tourists, who would on their way to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone, stop at the businesses, hotels, whatever.

The town was in the middle of a large valley, surrounded on all sides by the Rocky Mountains. It was an agricultural community with not much industry save for a couple cheese factories and a cheese puff factory. Any other money to be made was from tourism.

Being born of agriculture, this town still had ample pastures, barns and assorted farm structures to house various animals kept within the city limits. In fact, directly behind our house was a family who raised chickens for sale and hens for laying eggs to sell. We used to buy eggs from them on a regular basis. Why go to the store when you can walk across the back yard and have them sized, candled and packed, gathered fresh from chickens that morning?

As I mentioned, this family also raised chickens to sell. In fact, that's how they paid some of their bills. In trade. I don't remember the circumstances now, but my mother had performed some sort of task for them and the debt was repaid using chickens.

These chickens however, weren't wrapped and frozen. No, they were still wandering around the chicken coup pecking when we acquired them. The rest was up to us.
But the neighbor, being the gentleman he was, and also realizing we didn't really have the facilities for 'preparing' chickens for the freezer, volunteered to 'prepare' them for us.

My friends and I were probably about 12 years old at the time, and we were playing around in the back yard when the neighbor brought his chopping block and axe over to get the chickens ready for the freezer. What an adventure! At least to kids our age. I'm sure the girls in our neighborhood would not have enjoyed the spectacle near as much as we did, but then, boys will be boys, and we were expected to help so we could learn how it was done "Just in case we had to do it sometime".

Well, the next thing we knew, chickens were getting their necks stretched, a quick thud from the axe, and well...you've heard the expression "Running around like a chicken with it's head cut off." We were watching this phenomenon with our jaws agape until we couldn't take it anymore. Which is when we started laughing our asses off, at the same time trying to not get run into by one of these freaks.

Now THAT's entertainment.

So yes, I know how to hatch, raise, slaughter, draw, pluck, cut and prepare a chicken.
I'm just glad the neighbors didn't keep pigs.


Peggasus said...

When I was seven or so , we had neighbors across the street like that too. Got eggs from them, watched the chickens being killed, etc. Only this was in Connecticut, believe it or not. Well, just believe it, because it was.

I have seen a pig slaughtered and then eaten it. Best meal EVER. But that was in Sicily.

Peggasus said...

P.S. Great story!