Now the big news is chickens.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on page one that there is quite a hoo ha in the city of Roswell, Georgia, over a new chicken ordinance. This is such big news that it made page one, right next to a story about why little football teams won’t play big ones. Seems that the Adalusia State Mighty Ferrets are sick of getting stomped by Georgia
Chickens are apparently a big part of the fabric of life in Roswell. There’s even a state-wide organization with 700+ members devoted to the raising of chickens in backyards.
Roswell wants to limit the number of chickens to 25. The chicken-loving residents are outraged. Seems the upstanding chicken keepers see the chickens as a source of eggs and a great way to teach the kids responsibility and the government’s meddling in chicken keeping as a violation of individual rights.
This is not the first time the issue of keeping farm animals at home has jumped to page one. A couple of years ago a family in an upscale neighborhood decided to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in a traditional way. They were going to slaughter a goat on the patio. This, as you can imagine, got the attention of local law enforcement, especially because some of the neighbors thought the upcoming celebration might be a teeny bit over the top. The problem was, it’s not illegal to slaughter an animal in your backyard. I’m happy to report that the goat walked because the goat-eating family agreed that it might be traumatic for small children to hear the plaintive bleating of a goat as it was being sent to goat Heaven.
My dad raised champion Black Leghorn chickens in his backyard in West End and shipped them off to big chicken shows up North. The chickens won big, much the same as a French poodle or a Beagle might walk off with the silver water bowl at some big dog show. There was no ordinance against backyard chicken keeping, probably because this was in the early days of the 20th century and chickens were a routine part of urban living. Granted, a lot of the chickens were supplying fresh eggs, and the less lucky, non-egg bearing chickens often ended up as Sunday dinner.
The story about the Roswell Chicken Rights issue didn’t say whether some of the chickens were champions, although my guess is that the champion variety are mainly from rural areas. Nor did the story say anything about the chickens being the source of protein in addition to eggs.
You do have to ask yourself how many chickens are too many to keep. Nobody wants to live next door to a chicken breeder, and there is the issue of noise. There is also the issue of precedent. I mean, what’s next? Sheep (for the wool, I guess,) pigs (for the companionship) or even donkeys.
But sure as someone puts a cow in the backyard next to the chicken coop some municipality will have a problem with it, and a group of irate citizens will form the Farm Animal Residential Movement (F.A.R.M.) and we’ll see a full report on the front page of the paper, right next to the story about sloths as family pets.
Individual rights, lower health care costs, the jobless rate, and chickens. The critical issues of the day are ever with us.
© 2009 Mark E. Johnson, Jr.