The Thanksgiving Day… Chicken?

I never thought that I’d kill a chicken. Sure, my Dad had talked about his days growing up on a farm: lopping the heads off and watching them run around the yard. These days, however, the chickens don’t run around because they’ll bruise their bodies! But kill a chicken I did, with an axe. It took two swings to get the head fully off. I even plucked it, cleaned it, and gutted it. The finished product looks exactly like the chicken you’d buy at your local supermarket.

After watching it done a couple of times, I give it a go. It’s gotta die anyway, right? With my cousin in disbelief that I want to actually perform this horrid act, she holds the camera while I prepare myself for the coming event (she’s a country girl and she thinks it’s great that a city boy has come up to experience farm life for a while). So there I go holding the head so the neck is outstretched. And up I raise the axe, and down I chop. Shit! The head’s not off! I need to make another quick cut! Finally the head’s on the ground and the body starting to shake and tremble.

Hang it up and let it bleed out, then dip it in boiling water a few times before plucking out all the feathers. The first part to plucking is getting all the big feathers out, removing the feathers from the wings and tail first because once cold they’re the hardest to get out. Next you singe the smaller feathers off of the chicken and go clean it up with water.

Gutting itself is a disgusting act, but it’s gotta be done. The first step is to loosen the neck guts, and this is where you get to see the first of two chicken stomachs. Apparently some of the chickens had found food that day because their throats were all full of grain. I can imagine the fatalist chicken who tells the others that it’s a good day when the farmer brings the food, because no one will die. They should worry when he doesn’t bring food! The other chickens, of course, berate and tease this poor chicken until the reckoning day arrives. But after the farmer is done, then the bullies, the cowards, and the doom-sayers all lie side-by-side. Makes you wonder if you should be a bully, the coward or stand aside. But I have digressed…

Next, you make three small cuts around the pooper, careful not to puncture the poop-holder or else it’ll just make a mess. And the stench that arises! It’s like sulphuric-whiskey flatulence! Gross. The third step requires you shoving your hand up the chicken’s rear-end and yanking out the gizzard, the guts (including gonads, which I’m told, if it bounces, it means they’re male chickens… only later did I find out the truth about that “tale.” How are we city boys to know?), the heart, lungs, liver, etc. After doing that, killing the chicken didn’t seem so bad any more!

Now you clean it up one more time, bag it and freeze it. That’s how you get your “grade A, organic, farm-fresh chicken”! (It’s at this point I really thought about all of those folks who like to say “know where your food comes from”, especially those organic folks. I’m all for organics, but if you really want to know where your food comes from, venture out 20-30 miles from your city and spend a day at a nearby farm. You’ll learn a lot more from that day than from reading labels or believing what the company says. Just consider how KFC gets their chickens or what McDonald’s chicken McNuggets are made of. I wonder about hot dogs…)

And guess what we cook up as a part of our dinner that night? Gizzards! “Fucking gross,” I say as I think this is some sort of European thing (my cousin’s fiance is European). But my cousin chimes in and says that she’s eaten them her entire life. I try it… and it’s not so bad. It tastes like liver but has the texture of cartilage. Fascinating.

So ends my day of killing, plucking, and gutting chickens. My cousin said I could take one home with me for my family. It’s the first time I’ve literally worked for my food.

For those of you who are interested, I’ve made a video. I don’t recommend it to those who are squeamish or animal activists. Though, you might like my coveralls.

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3 Responses to “The Thanksgiving Day… Chicken?”

  1. pats Says:

    An entertaining tale about the destiny of a chicken
    Good work

  2. My Life on the Farm « Steven Sirski's Blog Says:

    […] with the ammonia. I succeeded in all of my tasks By the end of the month, however, I had also killed a chicken, driven a combine, hit two hay bales, burned a hay field and got screamed at by one of the […]

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