Poor Roo is Dead

Poor Roo is dead

Poor Rooster Roo is dead

Gather ’round his stew pot now and cry.

He wasn’t very old

But he had NO heart of gold

That’s why such a fella had to die.

Roo - between crows

Roo – between crows

Yes, it is true. We put Roo out of our misery last Sunday. FM and I have spent about three months discussing his antics, observing his behaviour and trying to reason with him before we finally decided that he was unmanageable. We read endless articles and blogs about mean roosters and we both found solace in one that claimed “Life is too short to keep a nasty rooster”.

Roo was a heritage breed Chantecler, hatched at a local farm which specialized in a few heritage varieties. Looking back, we think that this flock had been so inbred over the years that negative characteristics were amplified. Funnily enough, we haven’t seen any bad temperament among his three sisters – although Croque Madame’s death could have been a result of heredity.

I explained his neurotic symptoms in a previous post but now those descriptions of his aggression seem tame. On any given Saturday, we would head outside early with a long list of chores but, soon enough, FM and I would both be back inside the house, trying to escape his endless crowing. And his attacks became truly dangerous. He would fly at us, claws first, over and over again for no apparent reason. I became quite a master at catching him mid-air and then holding him on my lap as a time-out. This would calm him down and he would usually drift off to sleep in my arms but the lesson never stuck. Mere minutes after being released, he would be back at it again. FM became highly attuned to the sound of Roo’s feet racing towards him as he mounted an attack from behind.

I was especially upset to hear that he even attacked Ginny when she was doing us the favour of collecting eggs and refilling water while we were away last weekend for Thanksgiving. This was a sign that his aggressive behaviour was universal, not just against us, his captors.

We were considering catching Roo and taking him to the local butcher for processing. I didn’t think that I could take part or be witness to his death. But then I read an article by Erica at Northwest Edible Life (an amazing blog, BTW) that changed my tune. This is the meat of her article:

[They are] Your chickens, your adoption, your decision, your responsibility to see it through to the end. You do not get to embrace the idea of a more intimate relationship with your food chain and then make that food chain – the food chain you specifically set up – someone else’s problem when shit gets real.

I suddenly realised that, by being a chicken farmer and reaping the rewards of our hens, we had to take real responsibility for our chickens when it was time for them to be dispatched.

And so, while awash in tears, I caught and held Roo, helped FM place a milk-jug cone over his head and held him tightly upside-down as FM slit his jugular. It wasn’t pretty and we definitely have room for improvement in our slaughtering technique (thanks youtube!), but we did it. Although I participated in all of it, FM did the work – slitting, chopping and gutting – while I blubbered away.

And, since you asked, Yes, we will eat him. Why wouldn’t we? He was fed the best feed around, got plenty of outdoor time and breathed fresh air. And despite his nasty disposition, he was loved. Would you like to come over for a fabulous Coq Au Vin on Saturday?

Poor Roo is dead

Poor Rooster Roo is dead

We can still hear his crowing loud and clear

The chickies in the coop

Will miss that clumsy goof

But his attacks will no longer bring us fear.

Roo in the foreground

Roo in the foreground

Roo – a hideous molt!

Roo - ever curious and helpful!

Roo – ever curious and helpful!

Here he is, mid-crow, as Chip and I have our morning chat over coffee.

Here he is, mid-crow, interrupting my morning chat with Chip over coffee. (Yes I do have a Chip on my shoulder!)

5 thoughts on “Poor Roo is Dead

  1. Way to go Martha! You are the farmer, you get to choose.
    Enjoying your nice quiet mornings yet?

    1. We love the quiet mornings! But it is a bit strange to watch the hens adapt to the change. They often end up alone and seem a bit lost since he really kept them together and safe as a mini-flock.

  2. Good decision, well executed! We have yet to “harvest” a chicken we named (we’ve harvested plenty of Cornish we raised specifically for meat, but never named) — but I’m less interested in doing the Cornish thing after this summer’s weasel wipeout. So managing some dual-purpose breeds and harvesting them as needed might be the way to go. I admire you, and love your eulogy song.

    1. Thanks, Christi. We knew this day was coming but it was difficult nonetheless. Right now, I say no more roosters, but FM already has his eye on a new guy. The debate continues.
      As for the eulogy poem, it is a slightly varied version of “Poor Judd Is Dead” from Oklahoma. I’ve had that song in my head for about a week now!

      1. I recognized the song. Our son played Curly in his high school’s “Oklahoma” production…practically all the songs are highly sticky. 🙂

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