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.


    1. Yay! I'm so glad to hear people are open to this!

    2. So glad to hear that the meeting went well. We're keeping our fingers crossed for you! Your family must be so proud, as we are--well done, sister!