Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fowl Play

The best lessons I ever learned happened right in my own back yard. Dad was a teacher. He wasn’t just a teacher in his classrooms; he was a teacher all the time. Dad never answered our questions. He’d ask another question to get us to find our own answers. Never  one to let a teachable moment slip by, he provided my brothers, sister and me lots of hands-on learning opportunities.

I remember when my brother Chris started asking questions about where our food came from. We were city kids. We didn’t have a vegetable garden, live stock or chickens.  So dad decided that he would take Chris to a farm. They came home with vegetables and a live chicken.

The vegetables were easy. We washed them and chopped them up. No fuss or mess. But oh that chicken was a different story. My brother carried the chicken by its wings out to the back yard. My dad got a hatchet and while Chris held it down over a wood block dad chopped its head off. YIKES! The dang thing didn’t die! It started running around the back yard, blood spurting out its neck. The screams of my brothers, sister and me were loud enough to bring nosey Mrs. Kilman off her front porch to find out what was going on out back.

Mrs. Kilman had seen a lot from the Johnson clan over the years but that scene sent her running back to her porch in a hurry. My dad and brothers chased the chicken all over the yard until the thing finally died. Then the plucking began. I watched from behind a tree, wide eyed, terrorized and yet fascinated as feathers flew all around the yard.

After murdering and plucking the chicken no one wanted to eat it so dad decided that it would be a great opportunity for Chris to learn all about bones and skeletons. The chicken was boiled, the meat removed and the bones cleaned and dried. The chicken puzzle was laid out on a table for a week as Chris reconstructed the skeleton.

It probably was a great lesson except that Chris decided to take a few bones to his science class for show and tell. That probably would have been ok too except Chris decided to tell the class that the bones were the fingers of his brother Eric. His teacher was mortified and never really looked at Chris the same again. I’m sure the parent teacher conference that followed was quite interesting as well. But all in all that chicken provided us with many lessons.

I learned that I  love vegetables and like my chicken shrink wrapped and frozen.