So I’ve been spending every spare moment these last few weeks obsessing about my mom’s chickens. The latest chicken permit hearing was last week and that in itself is a crazy story. My town has what I’d call a process that’s almost impossible to comply with, mainly due to the cost. Currently, applying for a chicken permit costs $311. 99% of the chicken owners in town do it on the sly because of the cost. There is also lots of red tape involved. I applied for my permit in March and finally last Thursday, I was told, I could finally get my permit. However on Friday, when I received my congratulations email from the town and final instructions to get my permit issued, I received a request for another $75 for their “recording fee.” Also, that doesn’t include the other fees that I’m supposed to pay if I put up a shed or additional fencing in my yard. I wrote back and told them I was going to wait and was very disappointed that this “recording fee” was not disclosed at the time of my application. I mean, really, is it logical in any way to have upwards of $500 in permit fees just to get some chickens when a dog license is $25? The other crazy thing is that any shed or coop has to be at least 10 feet from the property line. That part of the guidelines will be pretty hard to comply with and every single one of my neighbors has their shed a foot away from their fence and not floating in the middle of their yard.
The good news is that the story does have an upside. Part of my hundreds of dollars of fees went to a newspaper article announcing my application for chickens and one of my friends who is a city counselor in a different ward asked how it was going. When I shared the ridiculousness of the process, he actually took the initiative to have someone file a motion to change the chicken permitting process to be a lot simpler and cheaper. He drafted it to be something more like a dog license where it’s a nominal fee, they hand you the rules and regulations, and you have the right to keep your permit unless complaints ensue. This motion was raised at the council meeting last Tuesday and it passed! So, I asked my permit guy to email me back when the new cheaper process is enacted and I will get my permit at that time. In addition to that, the town finally put together official guidelines in collaboration with the board of health on how to keep chickens safely in your home. If it weren’t for the latest round of applicants and the uptick in demand, that wouldn’t have been completed either. I feel good that in a small way, trying to follow the process has led to the greater good of the community, so hurray for that.
I’m in the process of building a nice 4×8′ lean to coop for our little chickens. The walls are up and windows are in. We just need to put the shingles on the roof, stain the exterior, trim it out and install the door. We bought a really nice door at our local ReStore for $40 and we are going to upgrade our back door with it and then use the old back door for the coop. I also scored 2 double paned windows on Craigslist for $60, and I found my insulation used too for about 1/2 the cost, but most of the rest of the supplies I had to purchase new as my scrap wood pile is pretty well depleted at present. I was disappointed to learn one of my double pane windows doesn’t stay open (should have checked that before I bought it, but it looked brand new so that was an oversight on my part). However, it is a chicken coop and it’s nothing a stick of wood can’t fix. I seem to recall most of the windows in my home growing up were like that and if it was good enough for me, it’ll be good enough for the chickens.
Last night, I glued down a single piece of linoleum on the floor for easy cleanup and my mom declared that this nice insulated little chicken coop was a lot snugger and cleaner than the home she grew up in. She laughed that if a hobo stopped by her yard, he might just squat there for the night. I forgot to take pictures, but I’ll send some over once it’s all finished. She is so concerned about keeping her chickens warm this winter, but I think she forgets the kind of conditions her chickens had when she was growing up during the war.
In other news, my mom already smashed apart the perch I spent several hours on. She declared it unfit for her chickens and wanted to use the perfectly round and straight branch I found in the woods for a bean pole instead. That was a little disappointing but not totally unexpected as it’s just what she would do. She used to critique every thing I did every step of the way, but she’s mellowed significantly over the years.
I’ll be happy to make progress on the coop so that I can start working on my ultimate fisher cat proof enclosure. Hopefully that won’t take nearly as much time and then I can finally do a last trip to the restore (this time to drop off excess things), shortly followed by the scrap yard to de-clutter the garage and a few other spots. The last yard sale did make a dent, but it wasn’t nearly enough of a purge at my mom’s house. I’d also like to smuggle out a batch of tomato stakes as she’s got way too many. Maybe I’ll make a little bin to hold them in at the back of the garage. Maybe I’ll even make that bin out of tomato stakes…brilliant. Right now, they are in two garbage cans that annoy me to no end. The bins are very top heavy and any time I try to move them, they tip over. It’s super annoying. I should do that for her shovels too. Even though I made a nice place for her to hang all her stuff up in, she just leaves everything on the side of the door instead. Garage makeover here I come. I just can’t be too sad when it looks like a hot mess again shortly after fixing it all. I did patch a humongous crack that ran the length of the foundation a few weeks ago (back when I still thought it was a good idea to house the chickens in it). At least that can’t easily be undone.
Have a great week everyone. Now that it’s summer, my posting frequency won’t be as often, but here in New England our summers are short, so I feel a little guilty if I’m inside instead of enjoying the outdoors as much as I can. Take care.