Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Chicken News and a New Compost Bin

Last week was the chicken groups first meeting with our village. We met with the Environmental Concerns Committee. We (and the village trustee who is supporting us) felt that having the backing of this committee would help to lend credibility to our cause, rather than approaching the plan committee or the full village board first.

We had prepared a 13 (!) page document about urban chickens, their benefits, responses to common concerns, and the evidence we have that there is community support. This went out to the committee members in advance of the meeting. We had been working to hard to gather signatures on petitions (over 140!) and round up supporters to attend the meeting. As the date approached, I was getting pretty nervous. I was very worried that I'd get to the meeting only to find I was the only chicken person there.

As it turns out, I didn't need to worry! There were over 20 chicken supporters there, including a keeper at the large, city zoo near us, who happens to live in my town. We also had a supporter travel from the city who is the owner of a poutry supply delivery service. It was wonderful to see so many people come out for the cause. The committee actually had to go and get extra chairs for us, as they were apparently not used to having so many people attend a meeting.

After I spoke, there were a lot of questions. For the most part they were good, thinking questions. It seemed people were (for the most part) trying to understand the chicken issue and get a feel for the possibilities and potential problems. There were one (maybe two) people who seemed opposed. For the most part, the committee seemed very supportive.

In the end, they moved to draft a change code ordinance at the next meeting. If they can agree on language, after the next meeting, the draft ordinance will move to the plan commission, and then finally to the village board. The next meeting is in November, and then there is generally no meeting in December because of the holidays. If things move quickly through the plan commission (January?) we might be prepared to present to the board in early spring....just in time for a spring chick order? I'm trying not to be too optimistic about things. We had an excellent first meeting but there is a long road ahead still.

I just found out a historic farm a bit west of us breeds the endangered black Java chicken. I've been doing a little reading on them and am really fascinated by these birds. They are listed on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy's threatened list and on Slow Food's Ark of Taste. The farm will sell chicks to landowners. So, it also has the benefit of being a local source for chicks (rather than through the mail from a hatchery). The black Java is considered a "dual purpose" bird, meaning it is suitable for eggs and meat production. The articles I've read say that it makes an ideal homestead bird.

Isn't that a handsome bird?

A few weeks ago we were able to pick up 12 pallets from some friends. The Boy and I started working on a compost bin today. We have enough pallets to build a three bin compost sytem. We got most of one finished today. The pallet wood is tough! I had a lot of trouble driving nails into them straight. I will probably try to use our drill and screws for the next bin and see if that goes a little easier.

Isn't that a handsome boy?


Muskegon Critic said...

I will confirm.

He is, in fact, a handsome boy.

katrien said...

Looking good on all fronts!

hippieingeeksclothing said...

Any news on the chicken ordinance? I live in Traverse City, Michigan. We recently amended our ordinances to allow chickens in town. Our ordinance allows for four hens and no roosters and doesn't require a bunch of red tape to actually get chickens.
Here's a link to my post with our ordinance amendment if you are collecting models for your city.