Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I am incredibly moved and touched by the folks who have reached out and offered to chip in for a toxicology test on the birds.

The birds were disposed of 2 days ago by the Village public works person. A very sweet woman with the village offered to send him out so we wouldn't have to figure out what to do with the remains. I would have liked to find out for certain if they were poisoned, but the officer who came out gave the advice that even if we find out they were for sure, that wouldn't produce the person who did it, if they were in fact poisoned. I decided it made for more peaceful closure to let it go. I hope that turns out to be the right thing.

We should also keep in mind that it is an assumption (not a proven fact) that the hens were poisoned. The thing that keeps bringing me back to this notion is that they all 3 died at once. I can't get my head around anything else that would have caused such a thing. At any rate, to be fair to our sense of injustice and reality, we should keep in mind that there could be an explanation that does not involve malice. The only thing we know for sure is that someone entered our yard, left our garage open, passed out flyers with our address on them, then our 3 pets were discovered dead. There is no way to know that these 3 events are related or just a really bad-looking set of coincidence. If this is the act of a malicious individual, then that will hopefully come out in the wash. They must live with their actions. I suspect they will be caught eventually.

Either way, I think it is abundantly clear that the people in our community find these types of actions abhorrent. Please keep in mind that the poison theory is unproven and will most likely remain so. To create an environment of anger and outrage will do no one any good.

As always, our ultimate goal is to influence a positive change that is pro-urban agriculture in our community.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Adding an auto-waterer to your backyard coop

A question came up about our birds and the recent heatwave about whether or not they were getting enough water. I think that's a fair question and I'd like to show you all how we tended to the issue of making sure they always had plenty to drink. This setup is very easy to do. I hope we all get a chance to roll a little green ingenuity into our lives and enjoy the urban agriculture movement here in Brookfield.

We've been making do with a 1 gallon watering dish for the girls. Now that they're laying, it's not even getting them through the day. They're consuming feed at at least twice the rate that they used to, and now the water needs to be filled up twice a day. So in order to make sure fresh water is always available to them, I devised a contraption that involves a gravity-fed auto-waterer, a food-safe rain barrel, and food-safe tubing (came with the waterer), a cage around the dish, and a paving stone to elevate the dish a bit so the girls won't get it so dirty.

Auto waterer

From my research, if you're going to use a rain barrel for consumption or on edibles, it must be made of food-safe plastic and not be connected to your downspouts. There are petroleum byproducts in shingles and tar that will leach into the water if you hook it up to anything coming off your roof.

Auto waterer

I bought this low pressure automatic waterer meant for backyard chickens online ($34.90). There's nothing to it. There's a dial to adjust the pressure while the water is released into the bowl. There's a float inside that shuts the tap off when the bowl is full. In short, awesome. So much better than the risk of leaving a dry bowl for the poor hens. I added the cage ($24) around the bowl in hopes that it'll help keep it from getting so dirty. The girls love to kick all sorts of gunk in there and I figure if I'm not going to have to keep as close a watch on their water, I should make sure it stays as clean as possible for as long as possible.

I've procured an empty feed barrel from our local farm supply store ($15) and will be cutting a hole in the lid to be lined with mesh for collection from the sky instead of the downspout. Until we start getting enough rain to keep it full, I'll fill it from the hose. Can't wait to get the whole thing up and running. For now I'm doing a test run with the waterer hooked up to the hose and it's working like a dream!

Rain barrel

Thank you

Thanks to everyone for your compassionate messages about our hens. Of course we cannot say for sure what led to the deaths of our pets, and I would like to think that it was some freak incident, but I keep coming back to, "How would they all die at the same time?" We may never know, but forgiveness for the situation as a whole will benefit our hearts the most.

Honestly, the thing that is upsetting me the most right now is that this is pulling focus away from the ordinance, which benefits the whole community. It's hard to stick your neck out and not have the topic be about you, but I really tried. Sure, I put myself out as an example, but only to show that this is a fun thing to participate in. I really had (have) a vision of adding something fun and quriky to our little town. I'd LOVE to see coop and garden tours, urban agriculture clubs for the kids, etc. 

I love our access to the Salt Creek, our beautiful forest preserves, the farmer's market, our rain barrels scattered throughout town (some painted with fun designs), that we have a thriving garden club, and our zoo. Can you see that this all ties together?

I hope that can still happen.

Monday, July 25, 2011



The agenda item relating to Chapter 4 (chickens in Brookfield), will be postponed to a future meeting.

Due to the alleged criminal activity resulting in the deaths of chickens in Brookfield, the Board will not be discussing this tonight in any manner.  The Board of Trustees will only entertain discussion of this issue following the pending criminal investigation.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tomrrow is the day!

Tomorrow, July 25th at 6:30pm the board will be meeting at the village hall to discuss a backyard chicken-friendly ordinance here in Brookfield, IL. They'll be looking to the citizens of the village to see if there is legitimate interest in this going through. In short, we need people there to show that we want this. Please come out, bring your neighbors, your spouse, your kids, your friends.

You may not want this right now, or ever, but it will certainly be taken away if the village doesn't feel that the citizens want it.

Hope to see you there!

In the meantime, here's a video from The Martha Stewart Show going through the basics of setting up digs for backyard chicks.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Only 3 days left to make sure the Village of Brookfield, Illinois hears your voice! WE NEED PEOPLE to show up at the board meeting. Can you be there? Monday, July 25th at 6:30pm at the Village Hall. Bring neighbors! Bring friends! Bring signs!

Have you signed the petition yet? If you already did, have all the registered voters in your home signed? How about friendly neighbors? Please click here to sign the petition! 67 of our neighbors already have. :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What is "Livestock"?

Since we're referring to a legal issue, we must go by the legal definition of "livestock". In Illinois, the legal definition of "livestock" does not include a small flock of backyard hens. I discovered this after phone calls with the attorneys from the Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

The blessing (and sometimes curse) of legal definitions is that they give us a definitive outline of what every word means and how it must be interpreted to avoid subjective applications.

Therefore, the definition of the term is not up for discussion. "It is what it is." Backyard hens are not "livestock".

Not living in the country should not preclude one from being engaged with nature, raising your own food, or trying to live a more sustainable life.

Power to the Poultry!

PS: Don't forget that the Village hearing on this subject is this coming Monday the 25th of July at 6:30pm. And if you haven't yet, please click this link to sign the online petition. Thank you!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fun reading

Here are a couple new articles to read on the topic of keeping backyard hens:

Brookfielder calls fowl on hen ban
(Uneasy at the photo of myself, but the hens look fabulous.)

Western Springs allows raising of chickens

> Chickens pass muster in Evanston

> Move hatched to allow chickens in Crystal Lake

And this great blog: Fox Valley Citizens 4 Legal Chickens

Please be sure to take a moment to mark Monday, July 25th 6:30pm on your calendar. Come out and support urban agriculture in Brookfield! And if you have an extra moment, please sign the online petition.

Monday, July 18, 2011

7 Myths about Urban Chickens

Originally found at the WMRA Blog


The Public Broadcasting audio link to this article is available here:

7 Myths about Urban Chickens, a Civic Soapbox by Pat Foreman 


There are many false beliefs and prejudices about keeping chickens, and the seven issues that routinely surface are:

  1. disease, 
  2. noise, 
  3. odor and flies,
  4. predators and rodents,
  5. property values,
  6. appearances, 
  7. what will the neighbors think?

Here’s the facts about each issue.

Myth 1:  Urban Chickens Carry Diseases. 
Fact: Small flocks have literally no risk of avian flu transmission to humans. The 2006 Grain Report states: “When it comes to bird flu, diverse small-scale poultry is the solution, not the problem.” Why? Because small flocks have better immune systems.
Myth 2. Chickens are Noisy. 
Fact: Laying hens — at their very loudest — have about the same decibel level as human conversation (65 decibels). Roosters make most of the noise and many times they're not allowed in urban areas.
Myth 3. Waste and Odor. 
Fact: a forty pound dog generates more doggie-do (about ¾  of a pound) then ten chickens (two-thirds of a pound of poo daily ).  Both poops are smelly. But the key is to keep the chicken manure from accumulating, and this is done by composing.Composted chicken manure is valuable as a high-nitrogen fertilizer.

Myth 4. Chickens Attract Predators, Pests and Rodents.
Fact: Predators and rodents are already living in urban areas. Wild bird feeders, pet food, gardens, fish ponds, bird baths, and trash waiting to be collected all attract raccoons, foxes, rodents and flies. Modern micro-flock coops, such as chicken tractors, elevated coops and fencing provide ways of keeping, and managing, family flocks that eliminate concerns about such pests. 
And about those pests, chickens are voracious carnivores and will seek and eat just about anything that moves including ticks (think Lyme disease), fleas, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, stink bugs, slugs, and even mice, baby rats and small snakes.
Myth 5. Property Values Will Decrease.
Fact: There is not one single documented case that I know about a family flock that has decreased the value of real estate.
Myth 6. Coops are Ugly.
Fact: Micro-flock coop designs can be totally charming, upscale and even whimsical.Common design features include blending in with the local architectural, matching the slope of the roof and complementing color schemes.
Myth 7. What Will Neighbors Think?
Fact: You can’t control what anyone thinks, much less your neighbor. But in my experience, once folks experience the advantages and charms of chickens, the prejudice and fear evaporates; especially when you share some heart-healthy, good-for-you eggs from your hens.
Often overlooked is the value of chickens as clucking civic bio-recyclers. They can divert tons of “waste” from the trash collection systems. Chickens will eat just about any kitchen “waste,” including “gone-by” leftovers that have seasoned in the refrigerator. Combine their manure with grass clippings and leaves to create compost and top soil.

My chickens are charming, amicable and entertaining beings that bring so many advantages to my home garden. They are truly “pets with benefits”.

May the flock be with you!
--Patricia Foreman has kept chickens for years in Rockbridge County

Please sign the petition!

We've started an online petition to show our support for a backyard chicken friendly ordinance in Brookfield, IL. Will you take a moment and sign it? Please click here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Some quick facts about backyard chickens

  1. Hens don’t crow. Roosters do.
  2. You don’t need a rooster to have eggs.
  3. A small flock of chickens produces 88% less waste than an average backyard dog.
  4. Backyard chickens are not a sign of economically distressed areas. In fact, communities with pro-backyard chicken ordinances are viewed to be progressive and as having higher property values.
  5. Chickens do not attract mice. Fact: Chickens are omnivores and do not tolerate mice. They’ll actually chase them and eat them.
  6. Chickens are great composters. Give your kitchen scraps a second round by feeding them to your birds. They’ll return the favor with rich compost.
  7. Homegrown eggs are without hormones or chemicals, are higher in nutrients, lower in cholesterol, and taste 10 times better than store-bought eggs.
  8. Backyard chickens provide lessons for children about responsibility and where food comes from.
  9. Chickens provide natural insect control. As they hunt and peck around the yard, chickens gobble up grubs, earwigs and other bugs, treating our garden pests as tasty, nutritious treats.
  10. Chickens are fun and interesting. Every chicken has a personality—and lots of it. They aren’t particularly smart, but when properly socialized, chickens can be very friendly and even do tricks.  
  11. Their scratching for bugs is good for the soil. Chickens are enthusiastic foragers and will scratch around in the leaves and soil searching for the tastiest morsels. As they do, they aerate the soil and break down larger pieces of vegetation with their sharp talons, accelerating the decomposition process.
  12. Chickens are a great way to meet people and start conversations.   

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Our new flyer

Please click the image below to download and distribute this flyer anywhere you deem appropriate. Print 'em out! Email them! Post to your blog or Facebook!

Thank you for your support!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Village Hearing, History, and Landmark News

So today was really interesting in the "Bring Backyard Chickens to Brookfield, IL" front. This morning I found out that not only did the Village allow chickens "back in the day", but there was actually a Brookfield Poultry Association that had competitions and awarded ribbons to residents who raised them here in town! Not only interesting, but really, really neat! I think that's pretty cool. I'd love to find out if they just fell out of favor. There doesn't appear to be any ordinance ever added to stop people from having them. Maybe this will be a situation where we find out that they've always been here. Still trying to get a copy of the Village charter.

The second thing that I found out was that The Landmark, our local paper, wants to come out and learn more about what we're trying to do here. They're going to take pictures of the coop and the girls. Boy! Should I be doing something to primp them for their photo shoot?

My dream is that in a year from now we can have walking neighborhood tours of people's backyard gardens & coops and maybe some friendly competitions. Wouldn't it be wonderful for the kids to all get together over in Kiwanis Park and show off their pet chicks?

But the biggest, and most important, news is that we are confirmed for the hearing on the ordinance.  
Please, please come out, bring a neighbor, and show your support. Even if you don't want to raise hens, help the folks who do enjoy this wonderful hobby currently or leave the option open for folks in the future.

Thank you!

Annie is getting ready to lay her first egg

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Home stretch!

Hi folks!

July 25th will be here before we know it. If you support the idea of allowing folks to raise a handful of hens (not roosters) in their backyard here in Brookfield, would you please pick up the phone and share this with 2 friends? Then ask them to please do the same.

Call your neighbors in Brookfield, IL and let them know that hens are green, interesting, and fun! They bring us a step closer to nature and our food source. There is no downside to raising backyard hens once you learn the facts.

Will you help push this agenda through on July 25th?