Posted by: patwogan | July 7, 2012

Grandma’s Fowls

Kathy asked me to write about the guineas.  Grandma had them and they served well as “watch dogs”. Whenever a car turned into the fairly long driveway leading up to Grandma’s house, they began making whatever the noise is called that they make.  It sounded like a bunch of old ladies ( I can now use that phrase without sounding like a hypocrite since I am now one) gossiping.  Each one speaking louder than the next in order to make sure their news or opinion was heard.  They were pretty birds, rather weirdly  built, but black and white striped.  Their feathers were very soft, not stiff like chicken feathers.  I don’t really remember whether or not they could fly, but they probably could.  I will have to look them up in Wikipedia and find out.  I really don’t know what purpose they served on the farm as I know we did not eat them.  Maybe their only purpose was to warn us of the approach of strangers.

Chickens were the main stay of the farm and Grandma tended her chickens faithfully.  This past Fourth of July brought to mind the fact that it was that holiday that signaled the beginning of the fried chicken season.  The baby chickens that were either hatched or purchased from the hatchery in the spring had now become big enough to be eaten.  Granted, the first ones were rather small, probably about the size we now get at KFC, but very tender and delicious.  Somehow, even as little children, we did not become attached to chickens.  They were to eat and the hens were to provide us with eggs.  

I have written previously that the whole family gathered at Grandma’s for dinner after church on Sunday. The summer Sunday’s dinner menu was always fried chicken.  We never seemed to tire of it.  There was quite a process to go through before the scrumptious chicken arrived on the platter on the table.  As I remember it, Grandma had a piece of clothesline wire about four feet long.  It had a U-shaped hook on one end and the other end was fashioned into a loop.  In the early evening on Saturday after the chickens had gone to roost, Grandma would go into the chicken house and visually select a young rooster who would become Sunday’s main dish.  I really am not sure how she decided which was the rooster, although I know their comb was larger than the pullets.  This was something Grandma’s knew, I guess.  Anyway, she would take this hook and reach out a put it around the selected chicken’s leg and quickly pull him from the roost.  She would then grab him by both legs and carry him out of the chicken house.  Of course, he would be squawking and waving his wings wildly.  Since one chicken would not feed all of us on Sunday, she repeated this process two or three times until she had the desired number of chickens to make a meal.  Sometimes I was “chosen” to hold the chickens after she had caught them while she got the next one.  I did not like live chickens!  Their wings were hard and hurt when they hit me.  My arms were not long enough to hold them far enough away to keep them from hitting me.  It  was especially bad when I had to hold two of them at a time.  This is probably why I didn’t mind the next part of the process, which was killing the chickens.  

There was a big stump by the cellar door in Grandma and Grandpa’s backyard.  It had a large machete stuck in it.  It also had two large…I imagine 16 penny nails..nailed about two inches apart.  Grandpa now took over the killing part….although Grandma did it after Grandpa died.  Grandpa took the chicken by  the feet and placed the chicken head between the two nails.  He then with one whack of the machete chopped off the head.  Then came the fun part. ( I say this even though it makes me sound terrible.

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