In Memoriam: Mrs. Farquar

As I write this, my husband is in the backyard, in the evening on a Friday, trying to figure out the best way to humanely put down our Red Star chicken, Mrs. Farquar. I poured him a big glass of bourbon and after much deliberation, decided that I didn’t want to be part of the process.

I knew that this was going to be part of the whole raising animals experience, but this was awfully soon after we got her home. In hindsight, she ended up with us in the backseat on the Belt Parkway because we were able to just walk up to her and pick her up off the ground – no net required. Chances are, whatever was wrong started long before she came here to roost.

It was strangly comforting to care for her though, as she waned from life. Last night, I sat in the run with her, as I thought she was expiring as I rubbed her ears and told her that everything was all right. I sat there for about an hour as her breathing slowed, heartbeat all but vanished and I thought, ok, that’s it. In the morning, I’ll have to handle her Earthly remains while Mark is at work, as chicken doesn’t count as a death in the family.

But she was still hanging on this morning when Mark left for the day. But when he came back in the afternoon, she was all but dead.

Last week, I got to go and teach a group of high school kids who are part of a garden and cooking club in the Bronx. I had brought eggs from my girls and pictures and we talked all about where food comes from and while I had food and farming in mind, the kids wanted answers to life’s most primal mysteries: sex and death.

Where to eggs come from?

Do chickens get their period?

How does an egg get made?

Are you going to eat them when they die?

On Monday, I hadn’t noticed anything amiss with Mrs. Farquar and I spoke very cavalierly about them as whole animals and providing a whole food organism.

Today, I’m sad and miss my pet. The other three have the right attitude: Scratch on.

Rest in peace, Mrs. Farquar. My you find a happy home in the great coop in the sky.

  • Emily

    Thank you both for your kindness. When we brought the girls into our yard and our lives, we expected to eat them at the end of their egg cycles. Have one die prematurely humbled me, and made me suddenly a caretaker of a life in a way that I had taken for granted. In chicken terms, I think she had a pretty great life. How many chickens get to ride on the Belt Parkway in the back of a Diet Corvette? But it was sad, and hard to buy her, but our fig tree has seemed pretty happy so that’s the life of a farm, I guess.

  • Donald Urquhart

    I’m sorry you lost your pet. Any time you take an animal into your life, you form a bond with it. Whether it’s a dog, cat, chicken, or donkey it can be quite difficult when it dies. And, to make it worse, we will outlive most of the animals that we ever adopt. Some may regard that as preferable to the alternative, in which our animals would be left to fend for themselves in the event of our death, but it’s still something that always has to be faced whenever you take on the responsibility of an animal. I hope your chicken had a long and happy life, in chicken terms, and that she has gone to a better place. A heaven with no animals in it isn’t one I’ll go to.

    Donald from Low Muscle Tone

  • Althea

    So sad.