Gut Rumbles

January 19, 2008

Aunt Chassie's farm

Originally published December 9, 2003

Aunt Chassie was my grandmother's sister and she kept the family farm after everybody else moved away and got "real" jobs. She lived there and ran the place until she had a stroke at the age of 90. She taught me to milk a cow when I was six years old.

I remember how much I loved visiting that place. It was 'way back in the mountains. If your vehicle couldn't ford two creeks along a rocky dirt road, you weren't going to make it to the farm. But if you got there, it was a wonderland for a young boy.

Aunt Chassie had a HUGE barn and chicken-house, an apple orchard and every kind of animal you might expect to find on a farm. My cousin Ernie and I got in big trouble one day for eating a mess of fried fatback on the porch and feeding the rinds to the dogs. Chassie came after us with a broom. "Don't you feed those dogs table food," she yelled. "They've got a job to do around here and you'll ruin 'em feeding them fatback scraps."

The same thing went for the cats that lurked under the porch and seldom came out in the daylight. The dogs were there to run off predators coming after the livestock and the cats were there to kill rats. Aunt Chassie NEVER fed any of those critters table scraps. Table scraps went in the slop for the hogs.

I always liked feeding the chickens in the morning. I enjoyed taking a bucket of feed out there and broadcasting it one handful at a time while I watched the chickens peck and scratch. But Chassie had a bad-ass rooster who resented my presence in the coop, and one day, that bastard attacked me. That sumbitch came out of nowhere and was on me like white on rice. He pecked and spurred the shit out of me in a frenzy.

I dropped the bucket of feed and tried to get away from that rooster while he was tearing my young ass apart. (Note: a six year-old boy CANNOT outrun a full-grown rooster) I was losing that fight when Chassie suddenly appeared in the coop. She caught the rooster with one hand, did this incredible flick of the wrist and broke its neck. The rooster hit the ground, flopped a couple of times, then gave up the ghost.

We had chicken and dumplings for supper that night.

After I saw Chassie do that incredible trick, I tried to wring a chicken's neck a few times myself. I never mastered the technique. I believe I created a few elongated-necked chickens by whirling them around by the throat, but I never learned to snap their necks the way Aunt Chassie could.

She was a genuine farm-woman.

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