Dad had announced the day of reckoning had arrived. It was to be the chicken’s last march to the wood-heap. Easter was upon us, and Sunday lunch loomed high on our list of expectations.
There was an air of resignation about dad’s announcement. We knew it was coming. Betsy had stopped laying, and so it was just a matter of time.
Heralding the event was mum getting out the old boiler and giving it a good scrub. For the past week, she had been outside watering the herb garden as she loved to cook with plenty of herbs.
After breakfast dad had gone out into the shed to give the axe a touch up on his old grinder.
There wasn’t a lot said around the house on those mornings. We went about our daily routines, but the reality was we danced around the fact that today there would be feathers flying.
It was one of the facts of life around our place that as Easter loomed, the appetite for a good roast chicken dinner increased and every family member knew the pain we would have to suffer to celebrate the risen Christ.
At the same time, we all had an attachment to the animals we cared for. Mum had a name for each and every chook we had which didn’t help in any way when this time of year arrived. We had a chook yard full of white leghorns, mum swore by them and would countenance dad buying anything but a leghorn. Mum said they had a taste she enjoyed, and that was that.
The whole place had a sombre tone as we watched dad go around behind the laundry and sink his axe into the chopping block.
From the back window, we watched as dad and Betsy begin their final dance.
It was a combination of a side step, a two-step, a lunge and then a desperate grab, repeated several times until dad achieved his goal. All the while Betsy was squawking, I am sure it was all about promising to lay another egg and overtures to choose a much younger chicken sure to be tastier than Betsy might ever be.
It was all to no avail as Betsy was soon cornered and grabbed around the legs by dad who marched up the yard and disappeared behind the laundry once again.
Once dad called, “Get the water on.” We knew it was over and our part in the Sunday lunch began.
On Easter Sunday mum spooned generous amounts of gravy over the portions we each received. Mum had no qualms about any of her chooks ending up on her dinner plate. After she said it was a good dinner made even more satisfying having watched dad and Betsy dance around the chook yard one last time.