Whitesburg KY

Stolen chicken made a good dinner

While my brother and I were young lads, one of our most enjoyable and memorable excursions was going walnut hunting in the fall. Besides, that was one of the few things that our stepmother would allow us to go outside the fence-in yard to do. She loved to sit by the fireplace and crack walnuts and eat them. I don’t remember her ever baking anything and putting them in it. I can’t remember her ever making any candy or cookies with or without walnuts, but once in a great while she would bake a cake if her son by a previous marriage and his wife were expected. So, needless to say, we kept her plenty of walnuts to eat.

We had to do our walnut cracking outside the house. Instead of a hammer, we used a rock to crack them with. We had quite a few mashed fingers, but we good pretty good at it. I figure we lost more than we ate because we would hit them too hard.

One time we were going walnut hunting, which we only did on weekends. My brother went up to the chicken house and dispatched one of our stepmom’s old hens. We put it into his coffee sack and put the sack outside the fence since we had to pass the chicken lot on our way up into the hills where we gathered walnuts. We never did have anything to take with us to eat or drink. We could always find somewhere to get a drink of water and this time we were going to have something to eat, too.

We carried our chicken dinner to the tree where we were going to get the walnuts and my brother plucked all the feathers from the chicken and gutted it while I rounded up some firewood. We didn’t have any way to scald the chicken, so we just cut the feet, wings, and neck off and discarded them. We put two forked sticks into the ground, then built a fire between them. We put a green stick through the chicken and put the ends in the forked sticks.

We gathered walnuts while dinner was roasting, but we soon found out we had to keep changing out our stick on which we had the chicken. It kept drying out and catching on fire.

I can’t seem to remember for sure, but I think we used spicewood for that purpose. We kept a watchful eye on it while we were gathering our walnuts, and we kept adding wood to the fire as the chicken was roasting. After what seemed like an awful long time, we figured we better eat that chicken before we used up all the firewood within a 100- yard radius.

When we started to eat it, it was done alright. The outside of it was just a tad too done, but we were so hungry we ate it anyway. It sure was crisp, though. It tasted better than any chicken we had ever eaten, even if it was stolen from the chicken house. There weren’t any eggs inside of it, so we hadn’t stolen any of our stepmom’s unlaid eggs.

Maybe it tasted so good because of all the trouble we went through just to have us a chicken dinner. And believe me, we ate the whole thing, too.

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