Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Village vote: September 12th

Hello good chicken loving people. Just a friendly reminder that the Village of Brookfield will next be meeting to vote on this ordinance on September 12th. Please keep spreading the positive messages about the benefits of urban agriculture! We can make a great change together. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Landmark / Feedback from Monday's meeting

Thank you to the Landmark for their ongoing coverage.

I've been wrestling with this issue about my "good neighbors".

Neither neighbor on either side has ever said a word to me on this topic or any other, yet had plenty to say in front of the community. THAT breaks my heart.

When anyone takes a stand on an issue, no matter if it's positive or negative, there will always be negative people who want to tear them down. That can't be the thing that stops progress.

We have company in our yard all the time. The Landmark reporter and photographer stood right next to the coop. Most people didn't even notice the chickens until we pointed them out in the back corner.

The smell issue came in when we had problems with mud earlier in the season directly resulting from downspouts dumping into the dirt & gravel alley and puddling in our yard. We just could not get the back section of our yard to dry out. We couldn't walk to our gate or garage, so I stupidly thought that some straw or hay would help remedy the situation, which turned out to smell very bad. $200 in pea gravel later, we've raised the grade enough to help, but not fix it. Once the hay was removed and the pea gravel put down, the smell was gone. I admit that I thought for a bit that it might be the coop as well, but that was dismissed immediately when I cleaned the coop and the smell was still there.

I've lived many places all over the country, but never experienced the kind of "good neighbors" I've experienced at my current address. Sadly, the rest of the community is witnessing only one moment in a year's worth of living at my current address. Ongoing rude and hostile behavior...it hasn't been fun. I learned after moving in that our neighbors have reputations which predate our move there. We've just tried to ignore them and enjoy our lives and good friends.

Thankfully we all witnessed what the rest of the town's citizens are like on Monday night. There was a great showing of intelligent, well-informed, articulate, compassionate people who know that this is a good thing for Brookfield. It was exciting to see and moving to hear their speeches. Most of the other concerns can be addressed by referencing the available data. It would be interesting to see if a workshop with an educated professional would be well-received.

Moving forward, it's probably best that I step back since the backyard hens discussion shouldn't be about me, hostile neighbors, or any one individual. It should be about the entire Village of Brookfield taking one more step toward being the most progressive, green, environmentally friendly community in Illinois.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Thank you to everyone who came out tonight. I was so impressed and moved by the heartfelt and intelligent speeches. You all were amazing. It went so well, much better than I anticipated. Great job everyone!

A solid 90% of people who got up to speak were pro-backyard hens and you all spoke so well. Great testimonials by all.

In response to the concerns of the "not-pro chicken" folks:
  • They worry about smell and are going to assume that any odor at all is directly related to the chickens. There is a lot to learn with regard to maintaining your coop and birds. One suggestion would be to offer a workshop for folks wanting to keep birds so they can learn about layering bedding, use of barn lime, cleaning schedules, etc. 
  • Regarding concerns about noise, there should be neighborly understanding that we all have noises that come from just living in our yards. Pool parties, kids playing and screaming...that just comes from living with neighbors. Hens are not roosters. The level of noise they make is FAR less than kids at play and is about the same level as adults conversing when they're making any sound at all. They're usually quiet, but do rustle around a bit when they're laying, depending on the personality of the hen.
  • Backyard chickens do not pose a significant threat of salmonella. Handling raw chicken meat is certainly a far greater threat. Smart handling should be common sense. We always wash our hands after handling the birds, but the data points to commercial poultry facilities as posing a much greater danger.
  • Mice and pests: There is a reasonable concern about coops attracting mice. This is quickly dispelled once you learn that chickens are omnivores and will not tolerate mice in their coop. -They'll actually attack them! 
  • With regard to raccoons, we had far more trouble with them when we didn't have chickens. They were getting into our neighbor's pool, into our bird bath, into our other neighbor's dog food. There is a family of about 20 raccoons living in the tree at the end of our alley and we're right across from the forest preserve. Our coop is well-built, tightly screened with hardwire cloth, and well-maintained. We don't have any trouble with raccoons that is directly related to the chicken coop.
  • Hens require about 5 square feet apiece for living space. We actually doubled that just because we had room to, but owners need not have access to large amounts of acreage in order to keep chickens. -Which is one of the most wonderful things about them. You can live a little more sustainably just by keeping a hen or two and some vegetables in a small garden. Access to food on your own property isn't just for people with farms. It's a great thing!
Aside from that, nothing beats communication between neighbors. If we don't talk to one another, there's no way to manage or respond to concerns. Being a good neighbor is making sure that the lines of communication are open, which leads to more positive environments for everyone, right?
One of our next door neighbors drains their downspouts into the alley next to our house. We always end up with a big mud pit by our back gate. I had made the mistake of trying to help the situation by mixing hay into the mud (thinking "adobe"!) but that stunk really bad. We ended up raking up the hay and putting a couple hundred dollars of pea gravel back there to raise the grade, which helped immensely. This was an issue that was bad literally on both sides of the fence. We should have been talking about it. Obviously a lot of energy was spent feeling resentful when a friendly chat would have rectified the situation.
    The Village board was open and pretty considerate of all the feedback they heard tonight...and they heard a LOT. All in all it was pretty positive and we look forward to hearing how things turn out on September 12th, which is the next meeting on the subject.


    The Village board is meeting tonight in an attempt to redefine the legal definition of the word "livestock" instead of properly addressing the urban agriculture movement.

    The grounds for clarifying this ordinance is "Can Brookfield continue to enjoy this privilege that has been available to all citizens since it's inception?"

    It is worth mentioning that the board as a whole has NOT heard any of the factual data that supports keeping backyard chickens. We have yet to present this information to the group. The BYC movement supporters in our village should expect factual evidence, not subjective opinion, to be the basis on which this decision is made.

    Do we want a government who revokes civil liberties without community feedback, justification and incontrovertible data to support their action?

    6:30 tonight at The Village Hall. Please come out and support us!

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    Note the time discrepancy: The hearing is at 6:30pm, not 7.


    The village posted 7pm on their website, but their agenda documents say the meeting will start at 6:30.

    Please plan on being there at 6:30, ready to let the village know that we will not stand for the revocation of rights that have been in place since the the town was established!

    Don't let them bulldoze us! And if this does not play out in a fair and equitable manner that pays due respect to the voting citizens of the village, we need to remember this when election time comes around.

    Friday, August 5, 2011


    Friends! Neighbors!

    WE'RE BACK ON THE DOCKET: Brookfield's village board will take up the issue of whether to allow backyard chickens Monday night at a committee of the whole meeting scheduled for THIS MONDAY 8/8/2011 6:30 p.m. at the village hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.

    Please be there in person to show your support. Bring a friend, bring your neighbors, BRING SIGNS!

    Have a great weekend and remember:
    "When chickens are outlawed, only outlaws will have chickens"