Tri-City Ledger -

By Earline Smith Crews
Guest Writer 

The chicken that almost got away


October 4, 2018

Mama had shown me how to wring a chicken's neck by watching her do it. Now let me get this out right now so you understand my story right here. Mama never told me to wring a chicken neck, but by watching her do it I was pretty sure I could wring one easily enough if the time came for fried chicken or dumplins.

So one day I was playing out near the woodpile and happened to get a craving for some dumplins. I looked around to see if I could maybe catch an old fat hen because I knew old fat hens made the best broth for dumplin making. Young spring pullets made the best fried necks and backs--my lucky pieces that a sibling had convinced me of and more importantly I was one in a family of eleven.

Mama usually killed two pullets for fying so as to allow everybody a piece after the preachers got those coveted pullybones, drumsticks and livers.

Fried chicken happened on Sunday, so did preachers.

Preachers should have to stand and apologize to host family children on judgement day for all that greediness.

God knows all about preachers that have fried chicken addictions.


I followed one old Rhode Island Red to the corner of the yard fence where I grabbed her up to run out behind the smokehouse and started wringing her neck. I could feel that old bony neck slipping against the skin and feathers as I tried my best to sling that chicken in circles. She flapped her wings against my face to nearly blinding me. She clawed my arms into bloody marks. That chicken just wouldn't give up her neck and head like I had seen one do when Mama planned a dumplin dinner.

I panted and jerked on that chicken until I was completely out of breath, but way too deep in this neck wringing to stop now--mercy on me if this dumplin dinner didn't go as planned.

Here was my plan y'all.

We had some mean old hogs out in the pasture that had one time bit into a chicken and caused it to be injured so we had dumplns due to mean hogs. My plan was to come toting my wrung neck chicken in for Mama to see what havoc Daddy's old sow had wrought.

Dumplin dinner, right?

Well maybe, but with restrictions...........

That chicken flapped and clawed and her bony neck just kept slipping against her loosened skin as I lost stamina and let go.

Mercy sakes, that chicken took off squaking and running in circles as her neck flopped back and forth.

I had a big problem now.

I was beat half to death across my face, my arms were a bloody mess and I was gasping for air.

Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, they did.

Mama comes out to the yard to walk to the smokehouse for something and hears that failed dumplun dinner raising holy hell and me panting like a lazy porch dog.

I knew Mama would understand right off the old mean sow didn't fight me for that chicken so that lie was put on hold.

Mama stood looking from that poor old neck impared hen to me while I just stood there waiting for Jesus to intervene.

Jesus stayed out of my mess that day.

High confession of my deep desire for a dumplin dinner.

"Sides Mama, she ain't lay'in eggs now anyway, Daddy will love some dumplins at supper".

" Earline, get you hind end over here, you don't just up and kill a chicken til I say so".

" Mama, Mama, Mama just listen".....................


Mama grabbed a peach limb and took care of me.

"You understand me young lady"?

" Yes'sum, yes'sum, yes'sum.............Oh, Mama".

Hard dancing with a keen peach switch......

" Oh................Mama!

Loud drawn out snubbing..................

Then she made me use the ax to finish what I had started.

Mama held that old half dead hen across the stump at the woodpile where we split splnters while I chopped off the head of my dumplin dinner.

To add insult to injury, I had to help scald and pull feathers off that chicken before Mama instructed me in the fine art of pin feather singe before cleaning out the innards.

Have you ever smelled scalded chicken feathers and warm innards..........yes, just that bad.

I don't remember if the dumplins were good or if I even ate any that day, but I do remember that being the last chicken neck I ever wrung.


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