Luke Rudkowski, founder of We Are Change and contributor to RT’s Adam Vs. The Man, travels to Georgia where he finds farmers-in-hiding who break the law and risk a $6000 fine for raising backyard chickens.
Reality has been turned on its head under the audacity of state power as the system rubber stamps little-studied genetically modified foods and factory-farm products created by Big Agra while criminalizing gardens, chickens, raw milk and more cultivated by individuals and simple families.
Give a cluck: Ask Umbra on secret backyard chickens
Q. Dear Umbra,
Have you heard of the underground backyard chicken movement, and would you recommend it for people who want chickens, regardless of city ordinances?
Westminster (no state specified, maybe to protect innocent chickens)
A. Dearest Denine,
Don your feathered fedora, pull it low over your eyes, and let’s venture into the subterranean realm of secret backyard chicken coops. (Perhaps they will be the new speakeasies.)
First, anyone interested in the issue should peruse this immensely thorough and useful piece (see below) by Jill Richardson about getting your city to allow backyard chickens. She dispenses great advice about how to investigate your area’s laws, gather pro-chicken allies under your wing, and eventually approach your city council.
And yes, if at first you don’t succeed, Richardson says, “Civil disobedience might be the right way to move the issue forward in your city, as legalizing backyard chickens becomes much more pressing a question once several families have backyard flocks in violation of the law.” Agreed! We can’t all be Tim DeChristopher (bless him!)—and taking a stance on backyard chickens may be your own brave form of peacefully challenging a law you see as unjust.
If you decide to join the underground chicken movement, Richardson advises you to be a model chicken-keeper by picking docile chickens (no roosters), quelling your neighbors’ fears, and maintaining a safe and clean coop. And make sure you’re OK with the consequences if you run afoul of the authorities. In Philly, where secret chickens are on the rise, “First-time offenders can expect a fine of $150-$300 if caught, but according to animal control the code is rarely enforced without a complaint coming in from a neighbor first.” Which is why the part about making nice with the folks next door is so important. In a comment on Richardson’s post, user ewerb says to simply go for it (especially since city officials are often overwhelmed—bigger birds to fry, if you will):
[D]on’t wait for permission from overwhelmed, understaffed petty bureaucrats who eat from vending machines to support common sense solutions to your home grown food goals. Join together with like-minded neighbors, figure how to do it, and then help others. Eventually our elected “leaders” will either get of the way or follow along with what is working.
Investigate your area’s laws on backyard chickens. Apartment-dwellers, see if a home-owning friend is willing to go in on a couple of hens with you, if you swear to share the chores.
Amen. Who knows, your town may already have a burgeoning chicken movement that is flying under your radar. As the Dayton Underground Chicken blog says, “If enough of us band together, we can convince the city to create some policies and code to make having these backyard beauties more legal.” Find some others to join with you and go for it. A few households with illicit backyard chickens may be all your city or town needs to topple the status quo—especially if you serve up your civil disobedience with a side of mouth-wateringly orange-yolked eggies.
Yours is to wonder why, hers is to answer (or try). Send your green-living questions to Umbra.
How to get your city to allow backyard chickens
Around the country, chickens are gaining popularity as productive pets, and many cities (like Detroit, Iowa City, and Calgary) don’t allow them. More commonly, they allow chickens only on large properties, making the birds effectively illegal for most residents. Here’s what you can do if yours doesn’t give a flying cluck about poultry.
Don’t ask, don’t shell
Step one, of course, is to figure out whether it is legal. While there are many websites (such as Backyard Chickens and Homegrown Evolution) that list laws around the country, I have found them occasionally to be inaccurate, so I recommend you check your city’s municipal code for yourself. Your city’s code should be available online, either from a link on the city’s website or, if not, by searching on Google for “[your city name] and municipal code.” Once you’ve found the code, there are two different places to check.
First, see if there’s a section called “Animals” or something similar. Often cities choose to outlaw certain animals completely, such as ones that are nuisances (loud peacocks) or dangerous animals (venomous snakes), and those would be listed in this section. If you check here and find that chickens or roosters are not specifically outlawed, that’s good — but you have to keep reading.
Next, check the Zoning section. Typically, each zone will specify which animals are allowed in that zone. It’s this section that will likely tell you whether you can have chickens and, if so, how many. (If you’re having trouble navigating the legalese in your code, but the site offers a search function, search on terms like “chickens,” “poultry,” and “fowl.”)
If chickens aren’t legal in your city, ask around. You might find they’re tolerated by the city, so long as your neighbors don’t complain. If this is the case, check with your neighbors — promise them some eggs! — and just get a small flock (four to six) of illegal chickens.
Why cities should <3 chickens
Make sure to communicate clearly why chickens belong in the city. Here’s a few easy reasons:
- Chickens are fun, friendly pets with educational value for children about where food like eggs comes from
- They can provide food security for poor families
- They lay healthier eggs compared to store-bought eggs
- They give gardeners high-quality fertilizer
- They control flies and other pests, not add to them, and dispose of weeds and kitchen scraps that otherwise might end up in the landfill
Don’t fear the cheeper
Be prepared for people to raise concerns about allowing chickens into your city. Some of the most common concerns are: noise, smell, predators eating the chickens, and chickens turning up in local animal shelters. The first three issues are the easiest to answer:
Noise: If you don’t have roosters, chickens aren’t noisy. Hens cluck and peep softly all day long, and then go to bed at dusk and remain quiet all night.
Smell: A small flock of four or five chickens will poop about as much as an average dog, and their coop won’t smell if it is kept clean. This is where crafting a good chicken law comes into play. If the law only allows chickens in a “well-maintained coop,” then a chicken owner with a messy, filthy, smelly coop is out of compliance and can be cited under the law.
Predators: The sad fact is that chickens are food — not just for humans, but for foxes, coyotes, opossums, raccoons, hawks, and sometimes neighboring dogs. It should be the responsibility of the chicken owner to keep his or her chickens safe from predators — just like it is for cat owners, say — , and there is ample advice available on how to do so. Even though a careless owner may lose chickens to predators, I fail to see how this is a municipal problem, as it is not something that causes a nuisance to anyone except for the chicken owner.
Read the Full Article Here: http://www.grist.org/article/food-2011-01-05-how-to-get-your-city-to-allow-backyard-chickens
Raising Backyard Chickens Video: