Thursday, June 20, 2013

Added CLUCK-MI as an official FACEBOOK page.  Come visit and leave your comments:

This may be the end of this blog, or just the start, who knows?

Thanks to my new friends at the Barefoot Gardener in Lowell, for inspiring me to get this new page up and running.

see you around the 'farm'....


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

To CLUCK or Not to CLUCK

I'm feeling both elated and defeated today. We'll maybe not defeated but definitely deflated.

I launched a new facebook group "CLUCK-MI" (City of Lowell Urban Chicken Keepers-MI) to spread the word about why keeping chicken in the city is such a great idea. I wanted to reach out to people who I might not ordinarily get to meet or talk to. I started this blog with a similar end in mind, though my hubby might call it 'talk therapy'. Basically, I've jumped on the social media bandwagon - I even googled "twitter", because I've been told, ANYONE who is anyone, tweets.

Only this past week, I signed up for 200 texts/month, because I couldn't convince my friends that, yes, I really did have a cell phone, and no, I really prefer not to communicate to my friends that way. Watching my phone bill climb from all the ad-hoc texts I was getting (and yes, occasionally sending) I decided to just forgo some other small luxury and fork up the $5/month for the 200 texts. We'll see how long until I need to bump up to the next level... But I digress.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I will talk about chickens, keeping chickens, chicken ordinances, you name it, until the cows come home (that is, if you could keep a cow in Lowell, which you can't-- you can check the ordinances here, if you like. I'm not shy. I'm really not even all that selective about who I'll talk to. What I'm lacking, however, is the social network that is connecting to the right demographic needed to really launch this thing and make it an achievable dream - registered city voters.

So, the elated part comes from getting the FB group off the ground and seeing that I have people who joined the group that I don't even know! I also got to post the Lowell City ordinance on the Lowell Chamber of Commerce page, based on some comments about city chicken keeping. That is also pretty cool to me. I've also been keeping track of all the newspaper articles and links of Michigan cities that have had chicken ordinance issues, and that is pretty exciting for me as well, because more and more cities seem to be opting FOR clucking than not, which I think is a reversing trend from just a few short years ago.
This, then, is the source of my distress.

I read through all the articles, to see what they did, what they said, what they implemented, and then, probably unwisely, I read through all the comments. What I find there is really heartbreaking for me. Overwhelmingly, the majority of the comments posted to those types of articles are often ignorant, misguided, sometimes mean or vulgar, and usually, just plain wrong. I will sometime see one or two posts with encouraging words, but the majority, I find are mostly against the whole concept, and for reasons I just can't reconcile with what is otherwise accepted or at least tolerated by most residents within the confines of an urban set-up.

"Chicken are dirty, smelly animals".

I'm sure this is true for chickens that are kept in large quantities, in small spaces or by an owner who is not tending to his animals' well-being. However, the same could be said for many other things allowed to reside within city limits: children, dogs, cats, or teenagers. Chickens aren't inherently any more or less dirty than any of these things. They are living, breathing beings that, if properly cared for, will reflect that care. Keeping any living creature, be it human or animal, requires some responsibility on the part of the owner. Taking care of chickens properly is probably the easiest task of all the others options listed above!

"Chickens are noisy".

This one really gets to me. Roosters are noisy, to be sure. Female chickens, aka "hens", do make noises. But, it's usually quiet clucking or cooing while they go about hunting for dandelions or scratching for a juicy japanese beetle grub in the lawn or a slimy, yet satisfying, slug lurking under the hostas. Occasionally, while my girls were running around the yard doing important chicken things, one of them would lag behind, distracted by the potential of an extra delicious morsel under the lilacs, or the shiny thing spinning by the clothesline. Then, suddenly, she would look up, realize she was deserted, and let out a hoot. This was not quite as loud as a rooster crow, more just a shout out to her peeps-so to speak, to find out where they'd wandered off to, and let them know to wait up. Then in a flurry of wings and self-important chicken bustle she would rush off on her way to rejoin the group, happy in her little chicken heart again. I've been told that hens will also make a noise when they are laying an egg, but I never heard anything louder than a contented little squawk from any of my four.

Again, let's compare the other legal residents of our city: a very small dog barking down the street - I can usually hear it INSIDE my house; a larger dog-inside my house WITH the windows closed. Unspayed female cats in heat are another common city noise, as is the sound of mating cats, which usually happens at 3am and will knock me out of a sound sleep in the summer time. Neighborhood children squealing while jumping on a trampoline or chasing each other with squirt guns make an ungodly amount of noise for such small beings. Teenagers as well, usually at 11 o'clock at night, and extra decibels to those that own a car with a radio. Though not really a huge trend anymore, the high pitched whine of scooters, mopeds and dirtbikes, or the boom boom boom of the low-rider cruising in endless circles through the neighborhood are two things that require a TV volume readjustment.

But, these things are part of living with neighbors in close quarters and are tolerated, to varying degrees, by anyone who chooses to live near another human being. So while we hear of the occasional "neighbor-zilla" who parties it up until all hours of the day and night, or the "devil dog" who refuses to eliminate on his own parcel of land, you rarely get such a backlash of prejudice and ill-informed explicatives as you do if you mention 'city' and 'chicken' in the same sentence.

So, while I thrill to the challenge of spreading chicken-knowledge to an ever growing circle of friends, I am still distressed by the monumental task I sometimes feel I have ahead of me-changing the world, one person at the time, one chicken at a time. I think it's worth it the effort.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chuck the Chicken

Chuck is the rooster who lives in our backyard. Sometimes, he sits on the back deck- on or under the picnic table. Other times he checks out our side garden by the clothes line, or hangs out around the defunct water feature nestled in with the english ivy and coronation gold yarrow.

Chuck is the only chicken in our yard at the moment, and the only acceptable rooster to keep on an urban homestead. He is chicken art -- a bird made out of old signs and rebar legs that we bought at the antiques market.

We brought him home the summer after our city planning committee decided to outlaw chicken keeping within the city limits and banished our four backyard hens to a friends country farm.

Since that time, I've been dreaming of a time when we can convince the city planners that keeping backyard chickens within city limits is the right thing to do.

I believe that time has come.