The summer I turned 16, I went with my church on a trek. A trek is when you dress up like a pioneer and push a handcart; you spend the entire time learning to live like a pioneer. We cooked over a fire, slept on the ground in sleeping bags, used outhouses, we even had to slaughter our own chickens for dinner (I guess I’ve always been a pioneer, none of this was new to me).
My dad works for a natural gas pipeline and the area we where camping on turned out to be on his right of way, which means he needed to check on the area occasionally. On the evening that we were slaughtering chickens for dinner, my dad came to see how we were all doing. He drove up in his big yellow work truck, I saw kids from the trek running up to him like little street urchins. I learned that he had some old chips and candy that he was handing out. Mind you we weren’t allowed to bring anything to eat, so we had been surviving on potatoes, onions and if we were lucky, a roll. Dad parked his truck and walked around to see how things were going. He said hi to me (I’m his favorite kid), snuck me some candy, and sauntered farther down the camp to see what else was going on. The events that followed have scarred the individuals present to the extent that to this day, they still wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat.
My dad had wandered to the area where the chickens were being butchered. He watched with shock as the adults in charge of directing the correct procedure to butcher chickens, instructed one girl to hold the head of the chicken onto a wood stump, another girl to hold onto the body, and a boy to swing a very sharp axe and try to cut off the head of the chicken. I know that the only reason no one had lost a finger was because the Lord was watching. My dad is a seasoned chicken killer so in good conscious he couldn’t stand there and watch a chicken butchered in such an obviously wrong way.
I wasn’t there, all I know is that from the side of camp where they were butchering the chickens, I heard a man scream. I turned, expecting to see a bear attacking the camp. I saw men, women, girls and boys running and screaming in all directions. They’re faces were white and some leaned behind trees to throw-up. I looked for my dad, worried, and saw him standing by himself holding a chicken head in his hand.
The story goes that he was showing the easiest way to butcher a chicken. It was quick, humane, and not so messy since it’s a well known fact that a chicken will flop around after its head has been cut off, plus it didn’t require a virgin to sacrifice her fingers. I’ve seen this method done; we’ve butchered many a chicken at home with this way. Dad took the head of the chicken in his hand, flicked his wrist quickly and with that broke the neck of the chicken, killing it instantly. End of story, easy as pie (please don’t comment if you’ve read my pie story). Unfortunately, this pie didn’t end up so sweet. Dad flicked his wrist but maybe working around so many people made him a little nervous, he flicked his wrist a little too hard. Not only did he break the neck of the chicken he pulled the head right off of the delicious bird with a big “Pop, Plop.” And with that extra flick, the chicken began to flip, flop and run around while blood squirted 5 feet in the air in all directions. It was at this point the chaos began, and there was my dad, standing alone with a chicken head in his hand and blood dripping from the leaves of the trees overhead.
The leaders asked my dad to leave; they said it wasn’t because of the chicken. They said it was because he was handing out candy. I think it was because of the chicken, I think they were lying.