Several years ago when we moved to the Queen Creek area, we decided that we wanted to have fresh eggs every morning. Not only would it be wonderful to enjoy those fresh, tasty eggs, but it would also be wonderful to have our freezer full of fresh, home-raised chickens. It would be good for the kids, and it would bring us a step closer to producing a little of our own food.
Fresh eggs from home-raised hens do taste different, in our opinion. We love them! But when it came time to actually butcher a few chickens for the cooking pot, we ran into trouble. We started with three. We read the books about how to fix and truss chickens. It also gave several examples of different plucking methods. This is where the trouble started. Enter that wonderful resource we call the Internet!
Armed with our heads full of “helpful hints and ideas” from the Internet and remembering our last delicious experience with home-raised chicken at Grandma’s farm, we set out to prepare the first three chickens for our cooking pot. As we started setting up our work area, my husband was proud to produce his latest purchase off of the Web: The Plucker.
The Plucker was supposed to make plucking chickens and other feathered fowl, fast and easy. You simply attached it to the end of a drill, held the chicken with the other hand and ‘viola’ -- your chicken was plucked! Working as a team, my husband and I proceeded to put The Plucker to use.
My husband held the drill and I, unfortunately, was the one holding the chicken. (Yes, the chicken had already given up its honorable life at this point. I will spare you those wonderful details.) The feathers, being of assorted sizes on a chicken, promptly started to fly in all directions, including, but not limited to, going up my nostrils, into my ears and yes, even into my mouth. This was rather disgusting and I promptly gagged, dropped the chicken and ran for water. Once I composed myself, I picked up the chicken for round two. Once again, not great results. Again, feathers went up my nose, into my eyes, all over my head, into my ears, down my shirt, into my mouth and this time I could not see, speak or hear. My husband found it quite hilarious. He stated, repeatedly, that I was “holding the chicken the wrong way.” I, on the other hand, was mad as an old wet hen. I really wanted to wring something’s neck -- and it wasn’t a chicken.
My husband apologized (between snickers of laughter) and somehow I was convinced to try one more time. I don’t know what it was that persuaded me to try that last time. Maybe it was my husband’s promise not to laugh, maybe it was the look in my children’s eyes, patiently waiting for their dinner. Maybe it was the shame of knowing grandmothers on both sides of the family were watching me from Heaven, and knowing that if I failed the grandmothers still living would never let me forget that I couldn’t do something as simple as plucking a chicken.
So, once again, I picked up the chicken, my husband started The Plucker -- and instead of pulling off the rest of the feathers, The Plucker twisted and grabbed that chicken right out of my hands and wound the entire body completely around the drill. The drill burned up, and it was the end of the road for The Plucker.
I stared at my husband. My husband stared at The Plucker. Now it was my turn to laugh. Needless to say, I ended up plucking all three chickens by hand.
Sometimes, doing it ‘the old fashioned way’ is the only way to go.
• Bridgette Crosby is a writer who lives in and loves the Queen Creek/San Tan Valley area. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.