Friday, June 12, 2015

Just Being Cocky

My first post today was about being awakened by my neighbor’s rooster crowing at 0430 in the morning. I posted there was a solution for it, chicken and dumplings. I know that my animal loving friends think my suggestion is cruel, but if they buy chicken at a grocery store, someone has to terminate the chicken and package it up for sale.
I have helped my grandparents with chickens since I was small. I have memory after memory revolving around poultry. I remember when they were chicks. We called them pee-pees as kids. Granddad had a small coop where the catalogue ordered babies were ordered. It had a bank of lights covered by a huge metal hood to keep their fuzzy bodies warm until they could grow their feathers. Small slotted and covered troughs of meal mash were interspaced with watering canisters that almost looked like upside-down mushrooms. The chicks would scurry, chase each other, and peep loudly.
When they grew feathers, they were moved to the larger coop with boxes for the hens to lay eggs. It had a stinky, ammonia smell. That coop was a large, double roomed building with boxes along one wall and a roost made of thin tree limbs nailed together like risers. The roost was a place where the chickens would sit and sleep at night.
I can remember going out to the coop in the dark one night to check on the chickens. Something was bothering the chickens. My uncle Ted carried a flashlight in one hand and a .22 rifle in the other as we investigated.
Opening the door, Ted shined the light inside. Under one of the roosts, cowered in the corner, was a large opossum. Its beady eyes glowed in the beam of the flashlight. As we neared the cornered critter, it bared its teeth and hissed at us. In the dark, it was extra scary and even today I can hear it if I think about it.
Other stories revolve about the slaughter of the hens at the end of the egg season. Aunts, Uncles, Nephews, and Nieces gathered for the killing and cleaning of the chickens. Heads and blood flew, then feathers flew. The smells are the memories that are the strongest. Wet feathers and singed hairs of the carcasses are the strongest.
Grandma Miner would cook several hens. Any egg yolks were saved and cooked in the broth or were made into egg noodles. The cooked chicken meat was chopped to make a spread. She added dill pickles, broth, salt, and pepper to flavor it. When it was spread on thick slices of bread, it was heavenly and made the work, sights, and smells worth it.
I wonder if the neighbor’s rooster would rather be chopped into chicken salad or swimming in  a pot with thick dumplings?

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