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most interesting job (or pheasant memories)

April 20, 2009

This post will be most enjoyed with this song playing in another tab (right click link, open in new tab).

My small group had a lively conversation last night about interesting jobs we’ve had. Mine was definitely “de-beaking” pheasants.

When I lived in Montana, a family friend named Wayne started a business raising pheasants to sell to hunting preserves. Baby chicks need very sharp beaks for breaking out of their shell, but after hatching they use them as weapons against peers lower in the “pecking order.” To keep the chicks from killing each other, their sharp beaks need to be dulled. This is done by holding each little bird’s beak against a very hot strip of metal for a couple seconds, which hurts about as much as having your toenails clipped. This process requires some manual labor, and my sisters and I accepted this unique career opportunity.

Wayne would order from a hatchery, and boxes of 150 chicks each (I think) would arrive at our small town post office. Davy, Jamie and I would meet the stack of peeping cardboard boxes at the auto repair shop, and go to town. The three of us would work in the retail area, over by the pop machine. The auto shop, run by Wayne’s dad and brother, had a nice mixture of grease, dirt, parts catalogs and Lions Club mints. To the blaring music of Van Halen (Ta Da!), we processed boxes and boxes of baby pheasants, assembly style. Davy would hand me a little bird, I’d singe the tip of his beak, and Jamie would put him in a fresh new box with his peeps.

What’s on your résumé?

10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2009 12:12 pm

    I cooked, packaged, shipped, and sold German Roasted Nuts – pecans, almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts.

    Great question!

  2. April 20, 2009 12:45 pm

    I assembled and shrink-wrapped fruit baskets during the holiday season for a local grocery store chain.

    I also worked at an amusement park for years during the summers, and I did all kinds of weird stuff, but the worst duty was having to go around and sweep the park of cigarette butts.

  3. April 20, 2009 1:30 pm

    Used to work on interior partitions for a trailer house company. Process involved stapling, yes stapling 2×3 finger-jointed lumber together and gluing, yes gluing 3/8 inch sheetrock onto the walls. Also involved a lot of stapled fingers and some choice expletives.

    • April 20, 2009 1:31 pm

      But debeaking pheasants is way cooler. I’ve only cleaned them.

  4. April 20, 2009 3:44 pm

    I was the proofreader for a publishing company that specialized in “Interesting Jobs” themed books. It was all paperwork and none of the adventure I was promised during the orientation

  5. April 20, 2009 4:19 pm

    I lived on a turkey farm in college, which included the occasional “turkey herding” when they escaped from their pens. This involved stretching our arms out wide and taking gigantic steps toward the birds. I couldn’t then and still can’t keep a straight face when reenacting the scene.

  6. Jamie permalink
    April 20, 2009 5:45 pm

    I have to say, I don’t quite remember the Van Halen part of that job… But I definitely remember debeaking in that old broken down barn with all of the mice. I bet Davy has better memories about that place though. 🙂 Maybe she’ll share them.

  7. anie permalink
    April 21, 2009 12:07 pm

    I once worked as a sound tech at an ethnomusicology conference. Knowing nothing about sound or ethnomusicology I was considered qualified since I was the daughter of a worship pastor. Go figure!

    It was however a fun job 🙂

  8. April 23, 2009 7:55 am

    I was hired as an office assistant illegally at age 12 and paid under the table. I hated it!
    I’ve also worked in a place that sold massage beds (best job ever!)
    And I worked at a chain of Diner’s where my name had to be Olive, I had to wear 10 pieces of flare and was reprimanded if I had more (Office Space anyone?). We were required to use 50s lingo and were reprimanded for using modern lingo.

  9. April 23, 2009 2:18 pm

    When I was growing up, my mom paid me to kill the gophers who were eating her gardens. We used bb guns, water hoses and shovels, traps, poison… So now there are fewer gophers around, but that is probably because of the hawks that moved to our neighborhood, not my efforts 🙂

    I worked 10 hour night shifts in a food warehouse the summer after high school. Talk about a great way to get in shape!

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