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January 24, 2021

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Ruth Naylor: My story on killing and dressing a chicken

For more information about "Bluffton Anthology" click here.

Ruth Naylor writes: 

This vivid memory illustrates quite well how times have changed since the early Fifties.

Miss Edna Ramseyer, Bluffton College professor,  required all members of the Foods Class to KILL, dress, and cook a chicken. At home, we raised chickens and marketed them (fresh dressed, cut-up or whole) every weekend.

 I had already dressed hundreds of chickens and knew the whole process beginning at the chopping block, but Mother was always the one who cut off their heads. Pacifist that I am, I knew I couldn’t kill one.

I told Miss Edna that I thought it was an unreasonable request. She explained that she wanted each of her students to be prepared for the day when we would get a call from our husband’s office saying he was bringing the boss home for dinner.

She said we’d need to be able to fix chicken from beginning to end. So, what could any intelligent and conscientious student do? I skipped class on the day of the “big kill.” Miss Edna accepted my “sick” excuse and then told me that I’d have to make up the beheading assignment. Unable to escape, I followed her out to the old barn that was still on campus, put the chicken’s neck between two nails in a board that was lying flat on the ground, and lifted the hatchet.

As I brought it down, I sort of blacked out and hit the chicken in the back. I let loose of the chicken’s legs and Miss Edna had to chase, catch, and finish killing it.

P.S. In all the years since that day, I’ve never owned a live chicken nor have I ever needed to kill one.

This is a sample of the content of "Bluffton Anthology - A creek runs through it." Copies are now available for $24.95 plus tax in Bluffton at:
• Roots by Strattons
• The Food Store
• The Black Lab
• Bluffton Senior Citizens Center
• The Dough Hook
• Polished