Friday, January 18, 2008

What, You Don't Like My Chickens!

"As part of the City's "Comprehensive Clean-Up Program," city staff inspected property located in Knoxville at @%#$ North Seventh. It was determined that a violation(s) of City Code exists. More specifically, the violation(s) include the following listed items. These numbered items may be referenced to the coordinating numbered code sections on the attached page.

The City has recently received a complaint about this property: There is a violation of Section 9-6B-2:Farm animals are not allowed in the City. Please make other arrangements for them."
So, that is the letter I received in the mail yesterday (along with a phone call on Wednesday). The letter goes on to say, "blah, blah, blah ... you have 14 days to get rid of the chickens ... blah, blah, blah ... if you don't get rid of them you are going to have to pay some serious fines ... blah, blah, blah ... Please remember the character of a neighborhood depends on everyone taking pride in their surroundings to maintain quality and beauty for the entire community of Knoxville."

Okay, so above you can see the picture of our movable chicken pen if you have never seen it before. I know that it isn't very pretty, but what about the house around the corner that has over 200 action figures and stuffed animals covering the yard! Or, the house up the street that looks like it is falling down and is for sale for only $20,000 dollars. Possibly we should consider doing something about our neighbors who moved out and only mowed their lawn ONCE this entire summer!

The law is the law, and I have already moved my chickens down to my dad's (more on that visit tomorrow) because I don't want to be in violation of city code. It just doesn't look good for a pastor to be knowingly breaking the law! But, I guess I just don't understand why it is the law. In West Des Moines (really fancy suburb of Des Moines) it is legal to have up to 30 chickens in your backyard! But, in Knoxville (a smaller rural community) we can't have that kind of filth.

Oh well, I'm really not to concerned ... I'm just disappointed because it was my one connection to the farm this winter. The chickens were my "doing" instead of just reading about it all of the time. We had been experimenting with feed rations, winter shelter, and other stuff and we had been having good results. But, now they are just down in the corner of a shed near my cows.

Just to show that I can be a "glass half full" kind of guy ... earlier this week my church board approved a motion to sell the parsonage that I live in, now it has to go to the congregation. The sale of this house would do a lot to help get the church out of debt and that is my main concern, but it will also help us make a move to the country. If the house was going to be listed this spring we would have moved the chickens anyways, this just forced us to do it earlier.

So, the moral of the story ... if your moving to Knoxville, IA don't bring your chickens into town! :)

**By the way, the second picture in this post is of the chickens in their new shed home**

5 comments:

Kramer said...

That stinks. I had no idea you were in an area that had subdivision laws.

Just think though, someday you will be out on your own property and you can have as many running around as you want.

This too shall pass, just grin and bare.

Randy said...

Ethan,
You could try to organize some people to petition the city council to change the zoning laws as they apply to chickens in the city. Something like "properties larger than 1/4-ac can have up to 6 mature hens, no mature roosters, and up to 12 total chicks (pullets and cockerels). For purposes of this section, 'mature' is defined as over 12-weeks of age."

My wife and I have wondered many times why noisy parrots and viscious dogs are celebrated but a small laying flock (and/or a small meat bird operation) and dwarf goats are banned like the plague. Go figure! Also, in every town that I've read the animal laws for, they almost specifically say that you can supply your own rabbit meat and aquaculture operation.

On another note (not to take up too much space), but God put you on my mind this morning as I was driving to work. I have been noticing that almost everyone I've met or read about in the sustainable ag movement is a dedicated Christian. You, Kramer, Herrick Kimble, Joel Salatin, (me), etc. What's up with that? Its a great thing, but is God doing something here? I know The Deliberate Agrarian posted a blog entry a while back that went overboard (I felt) about the significance of Christian agrarians. But is there something to this or have I just met Christians through other Christians?

Your thoughts?

Ethan Book said...

Kramer ... Darn right it stinks :) But, we will survive! That is one of the bummers, but as of the moment the house comes with the job.

Randy ... We could organize and petition, but hopefully we will move out instead. I realize that doesn't help other people, but I'm not sure if our race town has a lot of people wanting chickens in town.

As far as my thoughts about Christians and the farming life ... well, I personally believe there is the beginnings of a call in todays church to simplify life and slow ourselves down. I believe that it is only the beginning because there are still plenty of churches that are just as infected with a desire for stuff as the world in general, but there is a shift coming. I think you see some of these people desiring to make a return to farming because of that (and because you frequent Christian blogs :) ). But, I also am seeing it in the suburbs believe it or not! While I'm talking about farming and being a salt in the agricultural world my friends who feel called to ministry in larger communities are also beginning to opt out of this "buy, buy, buy" culture that surrounds us. They are recognizing our addiction to consumerism even though it runs counter to a Biblical worldview and they are starting to run counter culture. I always know God is working, and I do believe he is moving a generation to step away from the "keep up with the Jones'" mentality that runs rampant in the church.

...Just a few quick thoughts!

Tim said...

Ethan,

As always, you have the right attitude. But these types of "rules" are a big part of what's wrong with America. Before we set up our farm, we lived in a typical golf community that was bordered by farm land and chicken houses. 2-3 times a year the smell from spreading the poultry litter was extremely strong and permeated the air for at least a week at a time. Yet, we wouldn't have been allowed to have one (non smelly) laying hen in the backyard. It would have been a covenant violation.

What do these rules accomplish? Simple. It means we have to centralize food in an industrial food system, truck it in and eliminate variety, freshness and flavor.

Yeah, I know I'm ranting, but it's hard to believe that others don't see how these laws are hurting us.

Good luck with your chickens!

Tim
Nature's Harmony Farm

Ethan Book said...

Oh sure the rules are broken ... I totally agree with that Tim. The question then becomes what do you do to fix them? We could gather a group of people and petition ... but, I'm not sure if that would change a lot of peoples minds. I think, and this is probably why I want to farm, that we need to offer a positive alternative for their food. Once we are doing that and offering quality local options, then I think attitudes in the towns and communities will change. We must show a positive alternative ... that is probably the key ... kind of like you are doing right now! And we hope to be doing soon...

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