Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Oh, how I long for the Country

Or at least a little bit less 'city'!

SO I'm sure I mentioned in earlier posts about how I want some backyard chickens, and my husband is on the bandwagon with the idea too now, so the only thing left to tackle is the city. Well, we actually live in a town... right outside the Capital of North Carolina. A pretty good sized town nowadays too. Anyway, the town ordinace says that to keep chickens inside the town limits, you must have a livestock permit. They do not consider chickens as any sort of pet, so they're considered a farm animal. That's fine... the problem comes in getting the livestock permit. I have the plans for the coop drawn up, it's marked on my property plat for the location, the kicker is this: The town requires me to get permission from each neighbor within 500 feet of my property. This means that I have about 30-35 neighbors to approach about this subject...

I made up a list of addresses I needed to visit, and on the top half of that page a little flyer type of thing to show folks who had questions about things. This afternoon I took my kids and hit the pavement... I was able to get 4 signatures... several people still weren't home for the day, and I knew I would be going back out some other day anyway, so I didn't sweat it.

One house, which is on the corner of my street and the main street through town, is actually a hair salon. The lady that runs it doesn't live there in the house, she just mainly uses it for her hair business, and her husband does construction, so he uses the backyard for storage and stuff. It's kinda weird... anyway, I walked up to the door and knocked. One of the lady's clients opened the door, and there she was at the other end of the room, cutting some guys hair. I introduced myself while standing in the doorway (waiting-client guy still holding the door open), and told her that I could come back later when she wasn't busy. She said "It's OK, we're all friends here. What do you want to talk about?" So, I told her what I was planning and that I needed all of the neighbors permission, and the first thing she said after that was "Well, you're not going to like my answer, I hate chickens - they stink!" What was I going to say to that? I'm a non-confrontational type of person... I had to say something though, and stand my ground. I told her that I was only going to have 6 chickens, and they would be enclosed in a large run area in my backyard, and the way I would keep them, they wouldn't stink! She didn't seem very persuaded, but did say she would think about it and we needed to have a conversation about it sometime. She asked if I had any information I could leave with her, and told me to call her some other time. I didn't have anything made up to leave with people at the time, so when I got home I made this flyer :::

Hi! I’m Emily ****, I live at ********and I am planning to keep 6 chickens, hens only (NO ROOSTERS!) in my backyard later this year. As a neighbor who lives within 500 feet of my house, the Town of ***** requires your permission to complete the permit process. You will see that I have done my research and am ready to answer any questions you may have.

Why do I want chickens? Well... I believe in helping the environment and I would like to try a more sustainable living approach. Chickens are an easy way to Reduce/Reuse/Recycle also (this paper was recycled, as you will note by the letterhead on the back)– they eat garden/kitchen scraps, create fertilizer for the garden, and produce healthy, fresh eggs. I would like to be sure where more of my family’s food is coming from and the conditions in which the animals are kept.

Will they stink? Backyard chickens do not smell bad. They aren’t like the warehouse chickens which are packed thousands per building! They are kept in a way that bedding is almost immediately turned into compost. This creates a wonderful addition to any garden or lawn area, an organic and completely natural fertilizer which doesn’t smell awful!

Will they be noisy? Hens do cluck, and may occasionally make a squawking sound if disturbed suddenly, but you cannot generally hear them unless you’re very close to their coop. Most neighbors of chicken-keepers prefer the sounds of chickens clucking to thier dog barking, or cats fighting in the yard. Most folks just don’t notice the hens at all!

Will they roam into my yard? Of course chickens aren’t really trainable to stay in my yard, so I will have to keep them enclosed. I will have a large ‘run’ in my backyard where they will be kept. If they get out accidentally, of course I will catch them as soon as I find out. Most likely they would be eaten by a hawk or someone’s dog first, so I will do everything in my power to keep them enclosed in their pen.

Any perks for me? After the coop and run is completed, I will get the hens, I will probably get pullets which won’t lay eggs for the first several weeks. Once they do, I will have some fresh, healthy eggs to share. The hens will lay about an egg a day each – that means potentially around 3 dozen a week - far more than our family will eat! These eggs will also last a couple of months – since they’re fresh and haven’t already been shipped all over the US. More details will emerge once we get the hens! Please give me your phone number if you’re interested in Fresh, Organic Eggs later this year!

If you would like to ask me more questions, you may email me at
em************@aol.com. If you already say “Sure”, please either sign below and print your address – you can then leave this paper in my mailbox or I will be walking around this weekend to get signatures from each address. I appreciate your support in this little project. Thank you!

So... I was also looking for some support from my DH when he got home... but all I got was "You should have put something in everyone's mailboxes a few days before showing up and expecting a signature!"... I know that now, but that wasn't what I wanted to hear. I hope this lady (who doesn't even LIVE in the neighborhood) changes her mind, and I hope I don't run into anyone else that's nasty and mean like her.

Unfortunately - the odds are against me. I've got to get over 30 signatures in order to get my chickies... UGH... I need some good luck over here. I wish we lived out in the country... this neighborhood is nice, but I'm not so sure I want to deal with all of these 'neighbors'...

7 comments:

familyofmgms said...

Well, I think people would be big old JERKS to deny you your chickens. I can't have any because they aren't on the base "approved pet" list! Ha! Not that I would want chickens....I can barely keep up with what I've got. But if you want them, I want them for you.

Jenny said...

Oooh, good luck Em! I really wish I was your neighbor. I'd be the first to sign up and the first on the fresh egg list.

oonaballoona said...

ugh, i hope you get your signatures! what a lovely idea. i'd love to have some clucking hens in our backyard. first, though, we'd need a backyard.

thanks for your comments on my blog! did you visit through burdastyle? that's where the (free!) patterns for the dresses came from...

Breanna said...

I'm rooting for you! I don't know if I could do what you are doing, I'm way too shy. I live on a private road, with some annoying conditions. We can have pets, as long as they aren't a "nuisance". I have one neighbor who would most certainly consider any chicken a nuisance, so I've worked around it by not telling anyone. We'll see how things go when my rooster starts crowing though...

Good Luck!

Sarah and Jack said...

This could be tough. I will be interested in seeing how it turns out!

Angela said...

Best of luck - PLAN FOR SUCCESS! I know you can do it and can persuade folks. Plus, you could always argue to the town that her "place" is not necessarily zoned commercial but is being used as such and not as a residence. I know Beca and I will come get some yummy eggs when you have them!

Michaela said...

You are so brave! I'm very impressed. I was amazed to find out recently that we are allowed 16 chickens. I had passed by a home on the next street and saw 4 or 5 chickens free ranging in their backyard!! We have to keep the chickens 20 ft from the property line, which isn't too hard, but I want to let them walk around the backyard. I am not brave like you even to ask my neighbors on each side if they mind them roaming...they have no choice about us getting 5-6 chickens. 8-)
Best of luck to you!