Old saying causes problems for modern day youth
By: By PETTUS L. READ Tennessee Farm Bureau
As a child growing-up in the rural South, I have memories of numerous things that we did as a farm family that to us, at that time, were routine, but today, for modern society, would be considered somewhat strange. In fact, it could even be classified as down right barbaric by the current generation.
Saturdays were usually just another day for farmers that involved milking the cows, working the fields, doing the chores and all the other things you do on a family farm. Back at the house, however, Saturdays did include some different activities that usually were not performed on other days during the week.
Those activities involved not only the women of the house, but also the children too small to help in the other farming work. Homemakers spent much of their Saturdays getting ready for Sunday in my neck of the woods. Saturdays involved washing the clothes, cleaning house and the preparation of food for Sunday dinner.
One item that always found its place on our Sunday dinner table was fried chicken. The preacher in those days often went home with church members following morning services and at our house a large number of our chickens went into the ministry, I guess you could say.
Of course, to accomplish having good fried chicken on a farm family’s table on Sunday in the “good ole days” meant that on Saturday you had to process a chicken. There was no going to the grocery for your meat. You grew your own, as well as prepared it.
Processing a chicken involved removing its head, placing it in boiling water so you could remove the feathers and picking all the feathers off. Later, Mother would cut the chicken up and place it in the refrigerator so she would have it ready come early Sunday morning for frying before going to church.
The process of removing the chicken’s head is the reason for this article. It used to be common to hear people comment about someone who was always in a hurry by saying, “They are running around like a chicken with its head cut off.” That expression is not used that much this day and time due to the fact that most people would not know what you were talking about if you said it. Modern day grocery stores have removed that process from today’s homemakers and for those of us who had to pick the feathers off the chickens, we are very grateful to today’s marketing.
In an Associated Press story I have saved over the years, some young people went to the extremes to check out the country term I have mentioned. The Chattanooga Times Free Press on Thursday, June 17, 2004, reported an AP story about seven Georgia teenagers convicted of killing chickens just to see whether they really did run around with their heads cut off.
The Chattanooga paper reported, “In September 2003, the seven teens apparently started talking about whether chickens run around without their head(s) and decided to test it out.” It seems they went to a store and bought the items they thought they would need to process the chickens. They then drove to a chicken farm and stole eight chickens.
“It was reported that the misguided teens processed two of the chickens, videotaping the carnage, before the homeowner caught them.
“The story said that a judge sentenced the group to cleaning chicken coops and reading a book about animals’ feelings. All were convicted of animal cruelty — and some were charged with underage drinking, as well. A lawyer for one of the teens attributed the killing spree to the natural curiosity of youth. I’m just glad the judge tried to help them and not let them get off with a warning.
“I think their thirst for knowledge exceeded their judgment,” said their attorney. He criticized the state for at first charging the teens with the deaths of eight chickens, not two, on the premise that the other six died soon after because of the stress of witnessing the crime.
Seems the lawyer also needs a little farm education as well if he thinks those other six died because of stress due to observation. It was probably due more to the handling the chickens received than from observation. However, I’m not a fowl psychoanalysts and my opinion is just that, an opinion.
One thing was missing from the story that caught my attention as well. None of the 17- to 19-year-old young people were charged with theft of the eight chickens. In years past this story would not have been on the subject of animal cruelty as much, but on the fact that chicken thieves were caught in the act.
Maybe another country term those young people, their attorney and the judge need to find out about is, “There is nothing worse than a chicken thief.”
Editor’s note: Pettus L. Read is director of communications for Tennessee Farm Bureau.
Published in The Messenger 1.1.08