Ginger: In Memoriam (October, 2009–January 19, 2012)

February 05, 2012
By Holly Jennings

To DCCC readers:

Every so often I post something about life at Dowdy Corners—the garden, the bees, and now the chickens. The following story about the death of one of our chickens may seem completely unrelated to the club’s main business of reading cookbooks and preparing recipes, but it’s not: Many of Ginger’s eggs have been used in the preparation of food posted on the DCCC blog (click here, here, and here), and have even made it into print as one of the star ingredients in Udon Noodles with Everything, included in my friend Debra Samuel’s newest cookbook My Japanese Table. On the blog I don’t explicitly talk about where food comes, how it’s grown, and how it gets onto our tables, yet it’s something I think about a lot. Keeping chickens at Dowdy Corners has been one significant part of an on-going experience learning about food. If you don’t keep chickens, you may find this story maudlin; if you do keep them, you will know how easy it is to get attached to these domesticated fowl. This story is one of several I’m working on about our chickens, many of which are not sad at all, but are very happy chicken stories.


Ginger’s egg. Page from My Japanese Table (photography by Heath Robbins; styling by Catrine Kelty)


The morning started out innocently. After receiving a handfed breakfast of leftover dinner roll, Ginger, in the newspaper-lined pet carrier she’d been placed in the night before, was ready to be taken to her 8:40 a.m. appointment with Dr. Barcelow to see what could be done, should be done about her “pouch.”


Though not as large and bulbous as it had been before the surgery, when we had mistakenly identified it as an abscess, her abdomen was sagging more, it seemed, every day. Without the aid of muscle, Ginger’s skin was stretching and thinning under the weight of her intestines. When she was tucked in for the night, sitting on the perch, the pouch dangled in mid-air at an impossible distance from her body, like a reluctant teardrop of water suspended from the end of a faucet.


There were other alarming signs: Featherless and exposed to cold January air, the (more…)