The Flat Chicken


During the 1940's we (Mother Thelma, Daddy Elmer, Me, my little sister Ronna,   and Grandma Emma Ordway) lived down on the Columbia River in Skamania Washington. (Grandma lived in a trailer beside the house) We were poor country folks doing our best to live 'the good life' within our meager means.  We lived 'off the land' whenever we had to, meaning Dad would go kill a deer out of season if we were hungry but we did have some chickens, pigs, goats, (that ate Dad's Fig leaf underwear off the clothes line, but that’s another story) some rabbits and a nice garden.

One afternoon when our family was getting ready to go somewhere, Me, my little Sister and Grandma who were already dressed, were waiting patiently out in the front yard.  All of a sudden we heard a real commotion in the chicken house! Here came Dad half dressed with his gun in his hand and he was running after a weasel that had a little baby chicken in its mouth!  Of course, he told us girls “to stay out of the way” and we did... for about two seconds! We were soon running down the trail a few yards behind him, Mom trailing behind us girls and Grandma sitting in her rocker in the front yard asking, “what’s all the commotion about?”

 The chickie truly must have been 'dead weight' to that weasel, ‘cause it dropped the baby chicken so it could 'get on down the road' in a real hurry.   Dad was still in hot pursuit with the gun in hand.

Me and Ronna stopped short... there on the trail was a little yellow fuzzy baby chicken!  We stooped and picked it up.  It was still warm but its little head wouldn't stay upright and its little eyes were closed.  We didn't want to believe it was dead, so we continued to take turns holding it and trying to get its little head to stay up.

Soon we heard a shot and Mom and Dad came back up the trail talking to each other about what to do if other weasels came around the chicken house in the future.  They both went in the house to finish getting ready.  Grandma was still rocking in her chair in the front yard and Me and Ronna were still holding the baby chicken.  By now though, we were making burial plans for the poor little thing.

Mom and Dad were finally dressed and ready to go when they came out of the house rushing the rest of us because we were late and saying to us girls "Put down that dead chicken and lets get going".  Since us girls weren't finished with our burial plans we wondered “what do we do with this little dead chicken now?”  We grabbed a Life Magazine from off the porch and opened it up to the center pages and carefully laid out the baby chicken. Then we closed the magazine.  Now, where to hide it till we get back?  Aha! No one can find it under Grandma's rocking chair cushion!

You know the saying "Out of sight out of mind"? Well that’s what happened with that dead chicken.  We got back from the 'occasion' that afternoon and went about our usual playing completely forgetting about that dead baby chicken.

About a week later we were in the front room to hear Grandma and Mom talking in the kitchen. Grandma was saying something like "I've looked all over the front yard for it, for days now. I've turned over every rock, looked between the plants and its getting worse!” It stirred our curiosity, so we went into the kitchen and asked Grandma what she was looking for?   "A terrible stink" she said.

Ronna and I looked at each other for a second and without saying a word made a 'B' line for the front yard and Grandma's rocking chair.  With Gram and Mom following close behind us, we threw off the cushion, opened the Life magazine and there it was, flat as a pancake, black as coal and really really stinking!

I don't remember much of what happened to the chicken after that but there we all stood, sorta sad faced looking back and forth at each other and then at that little flat chicken, Me and Ronna expecting to be punished.  But soon, Grandma and Mom broke out laughing and then us girls knew we were OK so we laughed too!  We all stood out there in the front yard laughing out loud as we held our noses and looked at that flat black stinking chicken in the Life Magazine.