My village won’t let me have chickens. It irritates me to no end.
See that photo, above? That’s my town. It is a dozen or so little residential roads and 2 main streets with a grand total of 2 stoplights, both of which are turned off at 11 pm. This sprawling metropolis takes about 20 minutes to cross, from end to end, on foot.
It is surrounded by miles upon miles of farmland. In fact, even though I live pretty much right in the heart of the residential part of the village, there is a field across the street from me.
It is so rural that we have an annual tractor cruise-in and it’s a very big deal.
Yet it is illegal to have chickens in my back yard.
I have considered going to the village council and using my vast powers of persuasion to convince them to change this ordinance. There are three reasons why I haven’t.
1) I’ve been told by two people whom I trust to know such things that it’s been tried and it failed and, given what happened before, it will fail again. The council is firmly anti-chicken.
This may seem strange to you if you don’t live in a small town. You may think, “Just because it didn’t fly five years ago doesn’t mean it won’t now!” That’s true. There is always a chance. But you have to keep in mind that these are the same men (Yes, 100% of the village council are men.) who have been on the council since the town’s founding fathers drained the swamp and planted sugar beets. (I bet the founding fathers raised chickens!) If it’s not the same men, it is their sons or their grandsons, their nephews, or their 2nd cousins 4 times removed, or their neighbor’s dog groomer’s best friend’s cousin.
It’s VERY hard to get this group of men to change something once they’ve already voted NOT to change it.
2) At least one of the men on the council really doesn’t like me. It’s shocking. I know. I find it hard to believe too. I’m just so darn lovable! But, alas I think he’s anti-hippie as well as being anti-chicken.
3) I, myself am a chicken at heart. Perhaps that’s why I’m so fond of them! But the thought of getting up in front of these stern-faced, chicken-hating men (one of whom is constantly glaring at me) and giving my chicken-loving schpeal makes me feel physically ill. Maybe… MAYBE… if I thought I had some realistic shot at success I would put my big girl pants on and deal with it but since there isn’t it just doesn’t seem worth the intestinal distress.
That said… while I’m really not a convincing speaker, I’ve been told I’m a fairly decent writer.
So here it is, guys. I hope you read this and my positively powerful prose moves you to action for the benefit of the entire community and, dare I say it? Yes, even the planet. YOU, dear councilmen, descended from our town’s forefathers, could be, as they were, pioneers among the American people. YOU could help end hunger, heal the economy and protect our planet.
Please allow me to present, for your consideration:
Nine Reasons Why You Should Allow Chickens In The Village
1) It’s cheap, highly nutritious food.
Our county has been hit hard by the recession, the loss of manufacturing jobs and the changing economy. People are struggling. The local food pantry is far busier than it was, just a few years ago and these are not moochers and beggars, “living off the system.” I have worked in the pantry and seen hard-working, long-standing members of the community come in with tears in their eyes, asking for a little food to get them through until the end of the month. These are people who wouldn’t have dreamed of doing such a thing 10 years ago but now they’re out of options and out of hope.
Encouraging people to have a garden and a small backyard flock is encouraging them to grasp hold of hope once more. It is a way for them to take action RIGHT NOW, without leaving our good village, to ensure that their family will not face food insecurity again in the future.
2) It’s good for the earth.
Properly composted chicken manure and bedding straw is incredibly rich fertilizer and it has far fewer harmful effects on the local ecology and human health than chemical fertilizer. This is extra important, as our area is so deeply connected to a major watershed that effects the health of wetlands and waterways for the entire great lakes region.
3) It’s good for the economy.
People with an abundance of fresh, home-grown food can sell at the local farmer’s markets and festivals, earning extra income. Further, people who are empowered to have some measure of control over their lives (see #1) are more likely to be motivated to search for jobs and contribute to the community in other ways.
4) It’s a natural form of pest control.
Our village, built on the drained remains of a swamp, is absolutely over-run by insects in the summer. The village spends a great deal of money treating the air and water with pesticides, building bat houses and trying to educate the public about cleaning up standing water. Chickens eat harmful bugs. The chickens are happy. The people are happy. The bugs are dead. The village saves money. How is that not fabulous?!
5) Chickens encourage community.
It may sound silly but it’s true. People will come together to talk about their chickens. They will share tips and trade necessary items. They will share extra eggs and meat with their neighbors. Anyone with a lot of experience with backyard chickens will tell you that they have made new friends through raising poultry.
6) Chickens are trendy.
Our village is doing a great job marketing itself. We’ve managed to get “on the map,” as it were, with some amazing restaurants, wonderful festivals and events, and unique shops and businesses. Being one of the front-runners in our part of the state in allowing chickens within the village limits would be that much more good press for the town. Every time our name gets out there in a positive way every member of the community benefits.
7) Chickens teach children responsibility.
Kids given the opportunity to take care of an animal that provides food for the dinner table learn that it is important that they do their part, every day, and not just wait for things to come to them. These kids will also have the chance to participate more fully in 4-H, which opens a whole new world of learning opportunities.
8) Chickens are fun. They are silly and funny and charming. They make their owners happy. You want happy voters, right?
9) Any objections people have to chickens are already covered under other laws.
Chickens are too stinky? Not if you keep them clean and our county already has laws in place to require pet owners to provide sanitary conditions for their animals.
Chickens are too noisy? The song birds that come to my perfectly legal bird feeder are noisier than 4-6 chickens would be. That said, we already have noise ordinances that cover everything from fireworks to barking dogs… or clucking chickens. I don’t think anyone would object to a “no roosters in the village” policy. But we shouldn’t penalize the females because the males are always crowing! That’s discrimination. It’s just not the American way.
Chickens are destructive? Why would anyone assume that it’s OK for one person’s chickens to destroy another person’s property? If my dog or cat tore up my neighbor’s garden I would be legally responsible to make it right again. The same would be true of chickens.
Chickens carry disease? No more so than any other domesticated animal and far less than the gazillions of mice, squirrels, raccoons, opossums and other animals that share this space with us. Again, people are currently held to certain standards of cleanliness when it comes to pets. Chickens would be no different from other pets in this regard.
Chickens need to be culled? Yep. Circle of life. Pets live with us for a season and then they die or we euthanize them. “Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta eat.” (I suppose, technically, this isn’t a legal issue… just an issue that people have with chickens sometimes.)
If you’d like more information about the benefits of backyard chickens, here are some great, informative links. These people are more expert than me because they’ve all been there while I, sadly, have only read about it. Because it’s illegal in my village to own chickens. But it doesn’t have to stay that way! You, the leaders of our community, can change things for the better!
Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?
If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!