Edible City is where I muse about urban gardening and share tips from my new book City Farmer

Sunday, July 18, 2010

R.I.P. Chicken Roo

One of my chickens, Roo, died on Saturday. She was a Buff Orpington, just over 2 years old, and a great gal. Her illness and death brought to mind all the practical dilemmas and philosophical contradictions, for me, of keeping egg-laying hens in the city. For example, when it became clear that she was sick, I didn't know where to turn. Should I find a Toronto vet (none of whom specialize in farm animals) willing to see Roo and possibly do surgery (I thought she had an impacted crop, but now I'm not so sure)? If my cat was sick, I'd take him to the vet without any hesitation. But Roo wasn't exactly a pet, though I did have strong and affectionate feelings for her. Instead, I went to the farmers market and talked with a number of farmers--all of whom said, "If it's an impacted crop, kill her and make soup." Gotta love those very practical farmers!

By the time I got home, Roo was dead. TC (my friend who runs torontochickens.com--this is a psuedonym; she prefers to remain anonymous because chickens are still illegal in Toronto) and I buried her in my backyard and I plan to plant some currants near her--she'll feed the berries over time. First, though, TC and I did an autopsy, which sounds grizzly but wasn't. We wanted to determine whether or not Roo did in fact have an impacted crop, but the results were inconclusive. I have to say that dissecting the neck of a dead chicken--a chicken I've spent a lot of time with--was not as difficult as I thought it would be. I learned something about Roo's anatomy and I learned something about myself: I've got a bit of the practical farmer gene in me, after all. Next time, I'll probably cut her neck pre-death (yes, cause her death) and make soup.


  1. Hey Lorraine. I can totally relate. I've been live trapping and releasing porcupines caught in my yard out here in Grey County. Spending $113 at the vet's once to get the quills out of the dog's nose is enough. The local farmers shake their heads at me, telling me to just shoot them. I can understand that practical farmer gene that's for sure. At the same time I figure the porcupines aren't doing anything they shouldn't be doing; in fact they eat the grubs and snails off of my garden lettuce.

  2. Lorraine, please take a look at my post, doing a review of your book. http://triplecordcsaorganicproduce.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/city-farmer-review-and-giveaway/

  3. lorraine - i'm sorry you lost roo. hope you are having a great summer and we missed you at vivian's tomato tasting. all the best-clara

  4. Lorraine - I thought you might be interested in my daughter's thesis committee. Defence went well and thesis is now at the publisher's. (Yay, one more child in the work market!) This was the notice:
    August 12 MSc Thesis Defense -- Meredith Davis
    The MSc thesis defense by Meredith Davis (School of Environmental Design & Rural Development) on Farmers' Engagement with the Local Food Movement: A Case Study of Waterloo, Ontario will be held Thursday, August 12, 2010, at 3:00 pm in the Landscape Architecture Building, Room 143. Chair: Karen Landman; Advisor: John Devlin; Advisory Committee Member: Wayne Caldwell

    p.s. Roo's death was an eye-opening experience for you! Belongs somewhere in a Pollan book!

  5. Sorry I missed your daughter's thesis defense but I was out of town--sounds like a great topic.