Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sunday Dinner

Don't know if you are old enough to remember, but the world was supposed to end in the seventies. Maybe the eighties, but there was absolutely no chance that we would make it to 2000 before there was a nuclear attack and/or a complete economic collapse and/or a complete ecological disaster.

My parents believed this and in 1976 they moved us to eighty acres in the desert to raise our own food and live as self-sufficiently as possible.

We raised chickens, lots of chickens, and they were "free range", which means the smart ones found out early that if they slept in the coop racoons would kill them all. The chickens ran wild and lived in trees.

When mom decided it was time to butcher some chickens, dad and I (or just me, if he was working) would get our .22 rifles and cull the herd. Mom would tell us which roosters were off limits and if there were any hens she wanted culled, and we went hunting. Only head shots allowed.

The head on a chicken is a little bigger than a quarter, and the suckers move. We got very, very good at fast accurate shots.

Which brings us to Sunday Dinner. Sunday Dinner was the scrawniest, fastest, luckiest rooster in the world. Mom wanted him dead, because we were getting a suspiciously large number of scrawny fast hatchlings. We tried every butchering day for almost two years. The first time I shot him and saw blood and he ran. I tracked him and didn't find him for hours, when he came home, hiding behind my sister.

After that, if he saw rifles, he ran for the hills and didn't come back for the rest of the day. One time, I left the rifle and tried a handgun, got real close and ... missed. Damnit.

Sunday Dinner's last day, he'd taken off as soon as the butchering started. We were almost done and I saw him running through a path between two cotton woods trees at 75 yards. I snapped off a shot and he started doing the dead chicken dance. Chickens with their heads cut off do run. They also jump and do backflips. Sunday Dinner was spinning end over end, jumping, running and dead.

I carried him to mom for the scalding and gutting part of the day. She said, "Rory, look at this." There were two bullet holes in his comb, healed. One in the wattles at his neck. There was a chip out of his top and lower beak from two different bullets and healed graze at the back of his neck and a healed hole in the side of his neck in front of the spine. He lived a relatively long and healthy life with seven bullet hits to his head and neck. The eighth killed him.

1 comment:

Molly said...

Hey Baby Brother!
Somehow, I don't think Sunday dinner hiding behind me would have stopped the bullet - unless Mom was watching. Do you remember the time we caught him napping in a tree and put him in a cage for the next day's butchering? We are so sad that he would die an ignoble death without the chance to outwit our guns, that we let him go.
Love you -
Love your blog