Can a Chicken Run Around with its Head Cut Off?

Geek!This is Michelle75’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

I grew up in a residential area named Port Vue, a blue-collar bedroom community in the hills just above McKeesport, Pennsylvania. I had six brothers and three sisters. Obviously, we were a nice Catholic family. My dad had a side of him, I think, that would have loved to live on a farm and simply live off the land. There were many community regulations in Port Vue, one of which prohibited the raising of farm animals in one’s yard. These silly regulations never stropped my father. When he had a chance to get us a new animal, he would. At different times in my life, we had ducks, chickens, geese, a pig, a groundhog, a nanny goat, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, birds and always lots of cats and dogs. This may sound to be on the borderline of the ridiculous, but having all these different animals were truly a grand learning experience for us kids. There are so many fond, funny and some times sad memories that are associated with our animals. In the big picture though, the fond and fabulous memories far outweigh any sadness that came our way via the animals. Not many fathers allow such a variety of animals. I believe that only a wonderful father would. My dad not only allowed it, he encouraged it and was most often the culprit that brought the new little creature into our home.

The year was 1972, and I was nine years old. My father rounded up all of us kids. Somehow, he managed to squeeze us into the old Station Wagon. Lord knows this car was held together strictly by bubble gum and duct tape, but it ran well enough to make a trip to the then bustling Downtown City of McKeesport. Daddy had kept it a secret about where we were going. We were all so excited. We were bursting at the seams with smiles, laughter and excitement. Daddy parked the car and he asked us to follow along closely. On the rare occasions that we did venture out as a family, it was the responsibility of the older children to keep the younger ones close and within sight. The streets of the city were absolutely beaming and bustling. In these days, McKeesport was a thriving city that was a major shopping thoroughfare for the steel mill workers. This was a time when jobs were still plentiful and the steel industry was the major lifeline for cities like McKeesport and Pittsburgh.

Dad stopped at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Locust Street. We were outside Balsamo’s, a flourishing produce market in town. There was a fenced-in area right on the corner and inside the little fence was a sight to behold. They were Easter Peeps! There were hundreds of little baby peeps that were every color of the rainbow. Back then, the Easter Peeps were dipped in food coloring and dyed beautiful colors. The peeps were given as gifts to the children. The cost was just ten cents for a gorgeous peep. My dad let each of us kids pick out our own colored peep. This was the best Easter that I can ever remember. Dad even let us hold our peeps in the car on the way home.

Getting the Easter Peep became a lovely Easter tradition until the Environmentalists decided that dyeing baby chicks was cruel. Yep, even then the Environmentalists were stealing the joy away from the human race! Our peeps always lived and they did not seem to mind being fine-looking colors. Dad would let us keep the baby chicks in the house for a few days and then it was out to the chicken coop for them. My father had a chicken coop in the back yard! He kept lights in there so that the peeps would stay warm. When the peeps grew into big fat chickens, well, it was into the cooking pot for the then grown birds. Nothing went to waste in our house.

There is an old saying that a person can run like a chicken with its head cut off. Well, I can tell you first-hand that chickens can run with their heads cut off. I can still hear my dad saying, “Hurry up Dave. Catch that chicken!” On a time or two my dad would cut off the chicken’s head and the headless bird would get away from him. It was a hilarious sight to watch my brothers chase this chicken without a head down the wooded hill. The chicken could really run fast without a head, believe or not. In all, the chickens were such a great experience. We learned to raise, slaughter, pluck and cook them. This is an experience that not many children in the bedroom communities ever knew. And most of all we learned first hand that a “Chicken can indeed run with its head cut off!”

48 thoughts on “Can a Chicken Run Around with its Head Cut Off?”

  1. Pingback: Malicious Intent
  2. I grew up 20 miles down Rt 30 and and I concur, yes they can and do. I imagine turkeys would too, if not for inventions like the one behind Sarah Palin in “that interview”. I for one thought that was nifty. It was much less traumatic than the method I was taught and applied.

    I was about 6 when I was educated, through prectice, on how to prepare a chicken it’s eventual trip to our dinner table. You can learn many things from a chicken coop in your backyard. Not the least of which is where your food comes from and how we are part of the natural world around us.

  3. Very interesting article. It is well written and is a nice story of a much simpler times.

    It also remind me of my own father. I used to live in a town with similar restrictions and my father who grew up in a farm could not resist having his own chicken coop in our backyard. He even had a rooster to keep the hens happy and producings lots of eggs.

    With the ongoing recession maybe cities across the country should lift these restrictions for a while, so folks can raise their own food……………..

  4. I enjoyed reading this article. I did not have a big family and I always wished that I did. I know that when you grow up in certain areas they will not allow you to have alot of animals unless you live on a farm. good read.

  5. Yes, I did know that a chicken can run around without its head. It’s been so long since I’ve seen this that I had totally forgotten until reading this story. Thanks for the memory, Michelle!

  6. I found this submission very interesting and entertaining, as well, while enlightening us to the fact that chickens can run with their heads cut off. I’m a city raised person who has heard that statement many times and just assumed it was something said in jest. Thank you Michelle for a wonderful story! I had a station wagon like the the one your father had and it too was held together with duct tape — which I’m sure might be another story for you :)

  7. Yes, I’ve seen the poor chickens dashing madly about, sans their heads, since I grew up on a farm, too, and was also very much a part of their demise. But I confess that i always felt very sorry for them, and wondered if they felt any pain as they did their frantic, pitiful little dances.

    These days, I try to imagine what the reaction of the animal rights people would be to this practice which farm people accept as just a routine preparation for dinner on the farm..

  8. I like this story because I think that this person chose a really interesting topic to right an essay about. What Il ike about it is how she explained how she experienced it and how she turned it into a funny story about her expierience. I thought that this was an excellent story and I think that from reading it sounds like this person put a lot of time into and I thought that is was great!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. This story was excellent. I think it was well thought out and it is interesting about how a chicken can run with out with its head chopped off. I think that this person had the best story I have read so I think this could win the contest,

  10. I always knew they could run around after their head is cut off but never witnessed it. Would have totally freaked me out. this article is about more than that, though. It’s a great take on life in a different time; a different mindset. Nowdays, most parents would have considered that many animals and watching them be slaughtered to be a horrible life. I liken this to watching “A Christmas Story”. It took me back to another time and childhood memories.

  11. i think that this person did an excellent on this essay.I thought that when i read this essay it sounded well thought out and i could imagine a chicken running around with his head chopped off.I like how this person used a realistic experience.i thought it was good and funny at the same time.

  12. Michelle Thankyou for this story. I also grew up in a large family and grew up with lot of animals. Your story has allowed me to reminis about my childhood! THANKYOU

  13. this really had me laughing! very interesting story. it reminded me of the good old days when i was a kid.

  14. WOW! I loved this story. It made me laugh so hard. The father in this story truly reminded me of someone who really impacted my childhood as well. Michelle you have a wonderful way with words, you really make your story come to life with about as much vividness as the baby chicks!
    THANKS : )

  15. I loved this story so much. It made me laugh so hard with joy for the children.Your writing reminds me very much of Annie Dillard.

  16. You’re story was wonderful! Your style of writing was great, and you really kept my interest throughout the whole thing! Keep it up girl! I see great things in your future!

  17. I loved reading this story. I used to know a man exactly like your father, so it was really nice to compare. This story is really heartwarming and really easy to relate to. I’m actually looking forward to reading it to a member of my family!

  18. Michelle, this was a lovely story of a time when life was simple and we made our own fun playing outside with our pets–no matter if they were dogs, chickens or pigs. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

  19. Michelle, I think you did a great job with this story. It reminded me of some of my mother’s stories about chickens. She too could attest to the fact that chickens can indeed run with their heads cut off. Only her experiences weren’t as family oriented. She would have to go to the butcher’s store on Sunday to pick out their family dinner and watch as the butcher slaughtered the bird. To this day my mother will not eat poultry what so ever.

    Not only is the story well written but it left me remembering some fond memories of my childhood. It was a simpler time, one I wish my children could have experienced. Your father sounds like a truly remarkable man.

    Thank you for sharing this part of you with me.

  20. I liked the article about a chicken running around with its head cut off. I left the Pittsburgh area in 1980, I grew up in uptown area…a section with row houses and very few back yards…but we had folks that kept chickens and ducks and such for the feasts on holidays…so the article reminded me about the good old days. It was a well written “human interest” story , and captured the essence of life and the way things were in days gone by. Really enjoyed reading it.


  21. I really enjoyed your story cause it brought nice memories from my childhood. My grandma used to have a big chicken coop at her backyard and I usually saw her trying to chase a chicken to cook it. I never saw one running without its head but I do believe it´s true. What I most enjoyed was helping my grandma to clean and prepare the chicken before cooking it.
    Stories like yours always bring a moment of joy to our busy lifes.

  22. A very interesting story. I enjoyed the vivid description of the loving parent, the cities of McKeesport and Pittsburgh, and the excitement of the author as a kid when introduced to so many different animals and taken to the market for the Easter Peeps. I think it will certainly bring back the joyful childhood memories of any one who reads it. Good work!

  23. I loved the chicken story, I never knew you could dye the baby peeps. I have twin granddaughters who would love to have baby peeps, to have as their own. What a wonderful story.

  24. Great story Michele! Coming from a large family myself I can imagine everyone trying to wedge into the station wagon! As a matter of fact the big excitement for us was watching the ground move beneath us from the big holes in the floor of the vehicle! Nice job!

  25. Great story, You reminded me of my childhood days. I also had a father that would bring home all kinds of animals . From various birds to a rooster , chickens, ratcoons rabbits, dogs snakes etc. We lived in a residential area , but my dad didn’t care. Thank goodness our neighbors didn.t care. Your car sounded like ours also. Thanks for taking me back.

  26. Wow, there were many connections in that story. I too had dyed Peeps. I haven’t thought about them in ages. I also remember baby ducks that we had to take to a farm when they got too big. My father-in-law tells of having to cut off the heads of chickens in his back yard and watching them run around the yard with no head!

  27. Wow Michele! You did an excellent job writing this. I thought that it was really funny. I liked how it was beased on a real life expeirence. I could imagine it runnuing around with its head gone.

  28. I like it a lot. I grew up in a big family on a farm but I never expeirenced a chicken running around headless. That would be funny to see and at the same time it would be scary.

  29. I like it. I also grew up on a farm and I ate chicken a lot but never saw a chicken running around headless. I would find that funny and scary at the same time. I was raised on a farm in PA. I like it. Veryyyyyyyy interestinggggggggggggg!!!! :)

  30. I like it. I also grew up on a farm and I ate chicken a lot but never saw a chicken running around headless. I would find that funny. I thought that it was very creative and hillarious. This person is the best essay I have read so far.

  31. Very colorful. This story actually came alive for me. Having been a suburban girl all of my life, I was actually able to visualize the entire story in my head. It was informative and entertaining.

  32. I like reading this article. I have a small family but I would have liked to have a big family on a fam to expierence what Michelle expierenced. It would have made my day to have been there when that happened.

  33. A very interesting story. I enjoyed the vivid description of the loving parent, the cities of McKeesport and Pittsburgh, and the excitement of the author as a kid when introduced to so many different animals you have on the farm.

  34. I can realate to when I was a kid on a farm and living with chickens but never cut the heads off. I thought that was hillarious about the chicken running with out its head off. Funny and well thought out.

  35. Great story Michele! Coming from a large family myself I can imagine trying to get chickens for dinner and then having the chicken running around with its head cut off. It was good!

  36. Great story Michele! I came from a medium sized family but we were not raised on a farm but in the city. Now that I have read this I think it would be fun to live on a farm because you get to see chickens running around headless.

  37. Excellent story!! I thought that it was funny! and diseved to win the contest because it is the best I have read out of all the 30 I have read. Good job!! I would like to be in your shoes at that moment with the chicken running around headless. Great job!!!!!!!!!! :))

  38. Thansk for the memories. Sound just like my childhood. Now to find a chicken to share this with my kids. LOL

  39. Too many people take for granted where their food actually comes from. I mean, you go to a fast food place and order chicken wings. You look at them in the box and think that they must grow them that way- just the wings. And what about chicken nuggets? I don’t remember chickens having nuggets.

  40. This story was very delighting. It was also a very unique topic not most people will write about this kind of thing. But you did and it turned out to be very good. It was very humorous. I wish I could have a colored peep. The image of a chicken running about with its head cut off is funny and I wonder if its bloody of not. From now on I could tell people chicken can indeed run with its head cut off. Now Ill have that image in my head.

  41. Very nice story mom! I never really new if a chicken could really run with its head cut off. I would of really liked to have gotten a peep for easter. Your experience must have been very fun and exciting.

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