This time every year Dad would sharpen the axe, I’d be told to light the fire and the ritual began. The boys would drag the old wringer out from under the house, stand it near the laundry pouring quite a few buckets of water into it. I’d go into the neighbour’s backyards to gather kindling and firewood to light the fire underneath.
Dad would select the plumpest non-layer and with a quick neat whack her head was off down the back corner on his chopping block. Us kids would scream and dance as the headless bloody chook would race around the yard. When it finally fell over dead our job was to pluck and gut it.
A gruesome task but one we’d grown up with. So in our bathers, summer here remember, we’d get the task completed quickly. To get hosed down, cos we were hot and dirty, once the job was done. Then Mum’s cooked the chook to have it cold on Christmas day.
Sad part was I loved every one of those chooks, named them just like Santa’s reindeer and they would come when called. They’d follow me about the yard cos I was the one who fed them and raked out their yard. Then the next door neighbour would make a foul smelling fertiliser as I ladled buckets of waste over the fence into his 44 gallon drum and he’d add ingredients whilst we’d wear hankies tied to cover our nose and mouth as the potion was potent.
But most of all I loved their fresh eggs …