Follow our adventures

Follow our adventures as we raise a tiny flock of chickens in suburban Bexley, Ohio.
Our chicken bloggers include Tami Taylor, a Welsummer, and Tyra, a Jersey Giant.
RIP, Betty, Joan, Sally & Peggy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Awesome Meeting! Tons of support for Bexley chickens!

The city council zoning commission meeting tonight was a great success. Over and over again I'm impressed with how open to creating fair legislation our City Council has been. The process has, thus far, been shockingly amicable. For 45 minutes council heard from citizens who came to show their support (no one spoke against allowing chickens). I bet there were over 50 people there. Not everyone got to speak, but everyone listened respectfully.

Cathy (a new friend that we met at the meeting) gave Andrew & me the most awesome, most hilarious, porcelain music box with a woman & a man holding a chicken. She found it at a thrift shop and brought it in case we were there tonight! I think the man looks just like Andrew ;)

(First blog contest: A special gift of eggs--once we have them--to the person who can correctly guess what tune this music box plays. Place your entries in the comments section.)

I am not exaggerating when I say this Chicken Issue has made me feel, for the first time, like a real, grown up member of this community.

Councilman Lampke asked that speakers comment on 4 probable ordinance points:
  • Sex of the chickens (Hens only, everyone agrees)
  • Number of chickens (Council seems to be leaning toward limiting the number of hens to somewhere between 3-5 per family to stay in accordance with rules for dogs/cats)
  • Coop (Getting a permit will probably require having a coop -- otherwise the chickens can get out and would probably get eaten by predators, anyway)
  • Setback from the property line (This, to my mind, is the only tricky issue. A resident can have a dog anywhere on their property, of course, and cats can roam. But in Columbus and many other chicken-allowing places there are strict rules about how far from the property line the chickens must be housed. If we have even modest property-line setbacks in the new Bexley ordinance that will probably mean that Andrew & I can't keep the chickens. We've picked the most secure spot on our property which happens to be the dog run directly abutting the property line on the side. City Council seemed inclined to search for a reasonable compromise on this issue -- possibly required setbacks from the front of the property, effectively disallowing coops in front yards.
After dinner with Dana & Brent (fellow chicken owners), Andrew & I were positively misty-eyed about the sensible workings of small town government. Not until the woman got up to talk about the goat did even one council person up there crack an ironic smile. God love 'em.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tomato plants worth jumping for...


These are our make-shift compost 'bins'. It's like chicken Disney World.

An indelicate moment with Betty

You can't really see what's going on here because the video cuts off at just the right moment. But Andrew & I recognize the telltale squat and the shadowy blob that results.
That's right, folks. I've gone there.

Friday, October 22, 2010

South Bexley Open Coop is a success!

Thanks to our friends and neighbors who came out for the open coop tonight. We had 35ish people stop by to meet the hens, including 4 city council members. It's awesome that City Council-folk took the time to come. Not surprisingly everyone that came was positive about our chickens (we didn't really expect a mob of angry nay-sayers) -- but for many it was their first time seeing backyard chickens up close. That made it fun.

The highlight for me was the couple, out for a walk, who wandered in after seeing our "open coop" sign. At first they were shocked to hear that the "infamous Bexley chickens" were right there under their noses, but after they'd met our chicken ambassadors and asked a few questions, they were ready to talk to council on our behalf!

Another highlight came on reflection: There are a lot of people in Columbus doing a lot of cool stuff. This is a great place to be living these days. There's the Franklin Park Demonstration Gardens. There's that beautiful new magazine Edible Columbus. There's Local Matters. There's that new local food restaurant in the Short North: Knead! And there's a whole quiet scene of people who care about eating well (in every sense of the word). It's exciting! Exciting enough to get me through the winter? Maybe. A fresh egg or two every now and again might just tip me in the right direction. They're like sunshine in a shell (I think I heard that somewhere - or did I just make that up? They do have more Vitamin D then most anything you can find on land).

As the sun went down and the chickens tucked themselves in for the night we had a nice little gathering of family & friends in the backyard. The kids, especially, had fun daring each other to pet the hens -- I didn't have the heart to tell them that after the sun goes down chickens are pretty much zonked out. I think that would've ruined the game.

If you missed tonight, there's another chance to meet the chickens over on Parkview on Monday night. Or drop us a line & we'll invite you over for a private tour!

The past few weeks have been non-stop busy, but I hope to get some new pictures up soon. The girls are growing up so fast (sniff, sniff).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Enjoying some Tomato Plants

The girls have, as Jessica posted yesterday, discovered the roof of the coop. They like it particularly because they have access to some of the neighbor's tomato plants that are coming through the fence. They are uninterested in the tomatoes themselves, but rather in the greens, which are apparently the tastiest things these young ladies have had in their entire lives.

Being up on the roof of the coop gave me some opportunity to get some good pics of them as well. Enjoy!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chickens caught in the act

The girls, lured by the neigbors' delicious tomato plants, have figured out how to hop to the top of the coop. I caught them in the act through the dining room window.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Come meet the chickens!

Have you noticed the media coverage in the last few weeks about Bexley residents raising chickens in their backyards? Doubtless, many of you have questions: How noisy are a few chickens? What does a small coop smell like? What is the point of people having chickens in their backyards? And mostly: Will it be a nuisance to me if one of my neighbors has some “backyard chickens”?

We are three Bexley families who keep chickens in our backyards, and we would be happy to have our friends and neighbors come over and have a look at our hens and their living arrangements.

We are hosting two Open Houses (or “Open Coops”, if you prefer!) before the Bexley Zoning Commission takes up the issue at its meeting on October 26th at 5:30pm at Bexley City Hall. Regardless of where you stand on the topic, we hope you will agree that it makes sense to learn more about this issue, see the chickens and their housing in person, and talk to your neighbors who have backyard chickens!

Please drop by, talk to us, meet our hens, and see their coops. Bring your kids for a mini-lesson on where eggs come from!

-The Adlers, Cooks, Mills/Garretts, and the chickens

Meet the South Bexley Chickens at the Garrett/Mills Coop

Friday, October 22nd 4:30pm-7:00pm

2400 N Havenwood Dr.

+ Havenwood Dr. is a one block street spanning between Cassingham & Euclaire

+ The coop is in the backyard; enter the backyard through the gate at the left of the house

+ Call Jessica at 325-4279 or Andrew at 327-6295 for information

Meet the Central Bexley Chickens at the Adler/Cook Coop

Monday, October 25 3:30pm-7:00pm

375 & 365 S. Parkview Ave.

+ Park on Parkview and walk down either driveway into the backyard, towards Westland

+ Or park on Westland Ave and enter the driveway next to the Red Barn

+ The coop is just off the barn's driveway, across from 363 Westland Ave.

+ Call Dana at 425-1189 or Allison at 580-0571 for information


Common myths & facts about backyard chickens

“Chickens suffer from a PR problem. People think they are dirty, noisy and smelly. The truth, a few cared for hens are cleaner and quieter than one big dog or the three neighborhood cats that poop in the flower bed. Plus you get eggs...” The Wall Street Journal

Myth: Chickens are noisy.
Facts: The main rule for keeping urban chickens is “no roosters allowed.” Hens do not make a ruckus in the morning like their male counterparts and they are fast asleep in their coop by the time the sun goes down. (Hens do lay eggs without the aid of a rooster. Roosters are only needed if you want to have fertilized eggs for baby chicks.) Hens make a soft clucking noise that is less noisy than a barking dog or even a yowling cat.

Myth: Chickens are messy and smelly.
Facts: Chickens themselves do not smell. This is a fact. It is only their feces that has the potential to smell which is also true of feces from dogs, cats, rabbits or any other animal that is outside. According to the US Poultry & Egg Association, a hen produces .04 lbs of litter per day (manure + wood shavings). According to FDA, an average dog generates 3/4 of a pound of manure a day. That's about 18 hens to do the "business" of one dog. And dog manure should not be composted, whereas chicken manure becomes excellent compost!
The reason people fear an odor problem is because their only experience with chickens, if they have any at all, is on a farm or commercial poultry operation. Under these circumstances, hundreds if not thousands of chickens are sometimes kept in crowded conditions with poor ventilation and without proper cleaning. As a result, these facilities can stink. There is a huge difference between these environments and the the very popular and rapidly growing hen movement. A backyard chicken coop housing half a dozen chickens does not create the odor issue that may concern some residents.

Myth: Chickens attract rodents/predators.
Facts: The truth is that rodents already exist in Bexley and are attracted to any unprotected food source like bird seed, dog food, cat food, open trash cans, fruit trees, and even koi ponds. There are preventative measures (chicken feed containers and coop designs) to nearly eliminate this concern.

Myth: Backyard chickens will decrease property value.
Facts: There is absolutely no evidence that keeping pet hens within sensible ordinance guidelines would have any affect on property values. If property values decreased with backyard chicken keeping, why would major cities like Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Madison, WI, Denver, not to mention Columbus, support backyard chicken keeping?
Urban chicken keepers, like all good pet owners, are concerned about how their chickens might be affecting their neighborhood. They want their chickens to be a positive experience for everyone and they make an effort to keep an open dialog with their immediate neighbors to ensure any concerns or issues are addressed. Chickens can be kept in a yard so inconspicuously, that it may not be apparent that chickens are even around. There are eggs to share, and a chicken coop in the neighborhood can actually be a conversation starter, and thus it can enhance a neighborhood community.

Come see our coops, meet our chickens, and ask questions!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

There's a new queen in town

A few nights ago there was a coup -- Joanie has taken over as top chicken. This means she gets first rights to all treats and to the coveted sand box. Long live Queen Joan.


What do you call a coup in the coop? A chicken coop coup?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Girls go broody?

They're way too young to be broody; they must just be relaxing today.

Urban Chickens now OK in Springfield, Mo.

City council in Springfield, MO., just passed some legislation that covers the same points that Bexley is considering!
"The new rules have a limited range. The new ordinance still prohibits roosters, and no more than six hens are allowed in each brood. The birds' housing also have specific guidelines."

Welcome, New Readers!

Last night the Bexley News arrived at our doorstep and the chicken "issue" is on the front page. Somehow, it seems, we've become the face of chickendom in Bexley (okay, so it's not "somehow." It's because I opened my big mouth at the Zoning Commission meeting where they discussed the topic last week).

It's kind of weird. Here we just thought we were getting a couple of pets and now we seem to be a part of something bigger. Though, I hope, not that much bigger. The article reinforced our impression that the Zoning Commission seems predisposed to have a light hand in drafting a new chicken ordinance.
  • No roosters, probably (which I think everyone can agree on! Roosters are noisy, so existing noise ordinances would cover this, but I don't see any problem with making it explicit. And no, you don't need a rooster to get eggs. You only need a roster to get fertilized eggs.).
  • Possibly a fee to register chickens (also fine by us - maybe the city makes some chicken scratch (har har) to help cover the photocopies for the public forum on chickens).
  • Limiting the number of chickens allowed (a-okay, though we're already explicitly limited to 5 pets, so this seems to be covered by existing ordinances).
  • Requiring a coop (good for the chickens, important for keeping critters out - I don't think the chickens would last long with out one).

We're hoping (as I'm sure the Zoning Commission is, too) that this can be dealt with quickly & without too much drama, and that whatever new rules are ratified are simple to follow and don't place an undue burden on the city or its residents.

For those of you just visiting this blog, you'll find it's mostly just pictures of our three ladies doing chicken-y things. We're no experts. It's only slightly more interesting than a blog about someone's new puppy. But I've read just about every "urban chicken" book available at Barnes & Nobel -- surprisingly, there are quite a few -- and we're happy to answer any questions you have. Go ahead and post 'em in the comments.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Oscar worthy movie, edited for your pleasure

I figured out how to rotate the movies (in 28 easy steps)! The quality is bad, but it's noon now and I'm giving up.
This is three short clips (including the one below) of the girls out back. It's a beautiful day and they're scratching around, doing their chicken business -- chickens are surprisingly busy little creatures.

p.s. Why is it that chickens inspire baby-talk from an otherwise normal person (aka me).

Our first issue of Backyard Poultry has arrived.

Thanks, Dana & Brent, for the thoughful Chicken-warming gift! (Who would've ever thought I'd be anxiously awaiting its arrival!?)

Peggy eating some oatmeal I threw down as a treat:

Chilly morning

The ladies were not anxious to come out this morning.