Wednesday, March 2, 2011

killing junior.

Last Thursday I killed a chicken.

I’m no vegetarian (mmmm bacon!) and definitely no stranger to eating chicken (mmmm mcnuggets!!), but I have never personally met my food and enjoyed its company before later enjoying it for dinner.

When I heard there was a chicken in the other room that we’d be eating later that night, I thought my coworkers were playing a prank on me. After further investigation of the matter, however, the clucking poultry in the corner of the kitchen proved their story true. I picked up the bird, walked into the living area, and declared that the chicken’s name was now “Junior,” and that it was my new pet.

After about a minute of getting to know one another, I set Junior down on the floor. I’m not sure if the bird had heard news of its planned demise or was simply unsatisfied with its new name, but either way he wasn’t having any part of it. Once free from my arms, Junior immediately took flight and beelined it for the door. I emitted a reflexive cuss word and bolted after him. Luckily his feet were tied together and he hadn’t made it that far, and I was able to quickly scoop up the fugitive fowl and return him to the kitchen.

After taking care of the poor bird as one of my own, and rescuing him from the lonesome kitchen corner, all I got in return was his disrespect. I was no longer interested in maintaining a loving relationship with such an unappreciative pet.

“I’ll kill the chicken tonight!” I announced to the group.

I had never done anything like this before, and was pretty pumped about the event. My feelings changed a few hours later, however, when it was finally chickin-killin-time.

I was given a knife and instructed by a Liberian man to step on Junior’s wings, hold out his head, and go saw crazy on his neck.

“I can’t do it! I can’t do it!” I wailed.

“Come on Laura!”
“Just do it!”

The audience of Americans held up cameras and cheered as the Liberians simply laughed at me.

“I need a countdown!” I shouted.

So Seren began to count.

“1!” I held out the chicken’s head and lowered my knife to its neck.

“2!” I started whimpering.

“3!!” I screamed bloody murder as I sawed away at my once beloved pet.

Killing Junior was one of the most awful things I had ever experienced. After Junior went limp, the Liberian man instructed me to hold its head while the blood poured from its neck, staining the dusty ground. Holding the partially decapitated but very dead bird, I thought the worst was over.

However, the worst wasn’t over. And the bird was not very dead.

All of a sudden Junior came back to life, thrashing wildly under my feet that were pinning him down.

“Make it stop! Make it stop!” I shrieked, and handed over the responsibility of the resurrected bird to the Liberian man. Apparently I should have named Junior “Jesus” instead.

About ten seconds after Junior raised from the dead, he went back to being dead, and into a pot of scalding water. A little Liberian girl pointed out to me the blood on my face, as Seren zoomed in with her camera on the blood splattered on my feet.

After I rinsed with water and doused myself in hand sanitizer, I headed inside to escape the bloody crime scene.

“You’re not done,” Seren informed me. I looked up at her confused. “Now you have to de-feather it!”

As if murdering the poor thing wasn’t enough, I now had to help our Liberian cook pull out every single one of Junior’s feathers. The scorching water made the feathers easier to pluck, but at the same time more difficult, as I was constantly burning my fingers.

After about fifteen minutes of de-feathering, Junior was naked, and looking more like a meal instead of a pet.

Later that day Liberian children pointed at me and laughed as they told one another how the white woman cried when she killed a chicken. I laughed along with them and realized how humorous the whole ordeal must have been to them, considering this is something they see their parents do all the time without second thought. While we may see sawing off a chicken’s neck as wrong or inhumane, for Liberians it is simple part of life and the way they feed their families.

A few hours later, my co-workers and I enjoyed a fabulous meal of chicken and rice.

And Junior was delicious.

Seren (seen in the red "Coach" shirt above) shot this precious video for me. Enjoy.


  1. ohhhh my goshh! poor junior! good job though! you are now one of the few americans that actually knows what goes into getting our chicken we eat.
    love you!

  2. and 'Junior' was probably a whole lot healthier than 'our' chickens - and better for you!

    I am proud of you for following through on this. I don't know if I would have had the courage, or could have eaten it afterward. We are so isolated from the food we eat.

    Laura - I am so impressed by the ways in which you have whole-heartedly embraced this experience!!!


  3. WOW, a sharper knife next time perhaps. Think of the stories you will have to tell..."now, Junior, he was a REAL chicken!"

    love you, dbc

  4. lol. Now you know what it means when people say they're running around like a chicken with its head cut off.