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Farm to Table: 1939

Farm to Table: 1939

October 1939. Greeley, Colorado. "Mrs. Milton Robinson, wife of Farm Security Administration borrower, in the kitchen of her farm home." Medium format nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the FSA. View full size.


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Those were the days

Reminds me of when my sister and I would visit our grandparents on their big farm out in the flat lands of SW Oklahoma. The highlight of the trip would be to watch the macabre dance of the unfortunate headless hen that grandma had selected for our dinner. One time, there were so many guests for dinner that she beheaded two of them at the same time! What a mesmerizing sight to see them flopping around and even bouncing into each other in their finals throes. An unforgettable sight when you're 5 or 6 years old! Funny now to think back when I was a USDA poultry inspector in Arkansas for a couple of years. And where did we go for lunch more often than not? Why, KFC, of course!

Looks familiar

My grandmother (mother's mother) had chickens, and my mom (born in 1919) used to tell me about the first time, as a child, she was sent out by Granny to kill a chicken. Her attempt to wring its neck failed, after which the prospective dinner chased her around the chicken yard.

Cluck cluck

This reminds me of the annual trip over to my grandparents to kill and butcher chickens on an industrial scale. My grandfather and grandmother would behead the bird; after it stopped flopping around, it was dipped in boiling water to loosen the feathers. Then it was out behind the shed with my grandfather to pluck the carcasses. Mounds of feathers blew around in the Kansas wind. Then the plucked birds went to the kitchen, where my grandmother and mother cut them up and wrapped them in paper. Finally, we went home and put our share in the freezer. Then we ate chicken until I was sick of it.

You know it's fresh

This could be my immigrant grandmother. You got a live bird and would wring its neck, pluck it, take out the innards and into the pot it goes for dinner. This is real farm to table.

Just like Grandma used to do

This takes me back to when I was 11 or 12 and "Nan", as we called her, would take the chicken she just killed from the coop at the back of the house and do this. You know I was fascinated with the dexterity and expertise that she used to wash, pluck and cook the bird. But I have to tell you , this lady looks just like her.

Excuse while I wipe away a small wet space close to my eyes.


Nothing will plug up a sink drain like a few handfuls of feathers.

Drumstick anybody?

This lady looks like she knows her way around the chicken coop.


This makes me hungry. You just know that Mrs. Robinson knew how to cook up a proper bird.

Re-thinking McNuggets

Sometimes I forget that my Chicken McNuggets start with an actual bird. Thanks for the reminder.

How cute, she's giving her pet chicken a bath!

Oh wait - no she isn't.

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