Christmas Traditions on the Farm VI: The Christmas We Dressed the Chickens

Next in the series. Oyster stew was first in the series. Second in the series here. Third in the series here. Fourth in the series here. Fifth in the series here.


By Pennee Murphree, former Arizona cotton, wheat and alfalfa farmer

My aunt and uncle moved from an Iowa farm to a farm in Missouri to raise chickens in the 1950s. We happily drove from Iowa to spend Christmas with them and see the new farm. What a surprise waited for us.

It was the Christmas that we dressed chickens all day. No, we did not put pants and a hat on them. We had to dress them for the freezer.

It seems that the electricity went off in the chicken house and the warming lights were not on. The weather turned extremely cold so the chickens huddled together in a corner of the chicken house to keep warm and hundreds of them smothered.

The prudent thing to do was to get them into the freezer fast so, off with their heads. I do not remember how many chickens were prepared for the freezer but believe me it was a long day and there were feathers everywhere. Everyone took turns at the job in the barn and the job in the house. I preferred stirring the gravy in the house to plucking the chickens in the barn.

The reality of farm life is pretty grim at times but everyone pitched in to save the day for my aunt and uncle. At least we were all together and the story has been told at every Christmas since. We always have a good laugh about “The Christmas we dressed the chickens.”

Editor’s note: Tell us your stories of Christmas Traditions on the Farm or Ranch! Just respond to the blog where you can post messages. We want to hear your stories too!!!!

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