Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I mentioned the annual chicken "cleaning" in my last entry, so let's just get this one over with.

Let me set the scene for you....  It is a lovely, sunny, peaceful day in the Indiana countryside - at a farmhouse tucked away on a dead-end, gravel road, at the end of a quarter mile long lane.  The only sounds are the birds singing and chirping, and the breeze moving through the trees.  My mom and my Aunt Sis are making preparations for the ensuing carnage.

Back story:  Francis Weigle was my dad's sister.  Sis never married and lived across the road from our house.  Even through I had one grandmother that lived in town and I loved her very much, Sis was like having 4 grandparents rolled into one.  She. Was. Awesome.  I'll talk much more about her later.

For the purposes of this story, Sis had chickens.  She had well over a dozen hens in a coop behind her house and I got to help gather eggs once in a while.  Apparently, when the hens got to a certain age, they didn't produce as many eggs.  That's when Mom and Sis would take matters into their own hands.  The hens would be relegated from providing protein for our breakfasts to supper's main course.

Various stations were constructed on our peaceful patio.  Chairs were arranged, boiling pots of water were brought out, other pots and pans stood at the ready.

That's the point when my memory starts skipping scenes.  Its almost like I blacked out, came to, and blacked out again, over and over through the years. I do remember lots of feather plucking, piles of lifeless, naked poultry, body parts (lots of chicken feet), and the worst of all, the unlaid eggs.

Ugh.  I'm seriously getting an upset stomach just thinking about it, so I don't know why I'm subjecting you good people to it.  I can't believe I never became a vegetarian after witnessing that.  But Mom and Sis never seemed to have a problem with it.  Farm women. DO NOT MESS with farm women.

The upside is that this scenario always had a happy ending.  Soon after the Nightmare on the Patio, Sis would let me go with her to Indianapolis to buy a box of chicks.  The fluffy little yellow cuties came in a wide, flat box with holes in the side.  In the trunk of her '72 Nova, they cheeped all the way home.  For a couple weeks, Sis' one car garage was transformed into a nursery, and I got to go over and play with them every day.

But the chicks grew quickly, and would soon sprout little white feathers.  They became less fun to play with and were soon banished to the hen house.

Circle of life, down on the farm.

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