#chickengate2011-The End

5 May

I have 2 items to address, then I am done speaking publicly about #chickengate2011. People can say what they want, but I will be directing my energy to my family, work & the to do list given to me by the city.

Item #1.The reporter from the Patch was taken off the story & he seems to think I had something to do with it. In fact, I did not. I saw the 1st story before it was published & while I thought it was absolutely biased, I did not communicate that to the editor. I did say that I was disappointed that the writer did not communicate the positive things that all my neighbors on my street had to say. I chose to not direct my energy toward that. I also requested that the picture that was taken of my child be immediately taken off the site. These pictures were taken without my consent & I was deeply disturbed that someone was photographing my children without my knowledge. or theirs for that matter. I am also deeply disturbed that he has devoted his website to me…his stories (which I get), even my blog (which I used to get excited over 11 hits a day, now I get over 100), but my Twitter feed? My Facebook postings? He has a point, that I put myself out there. He is 100% right. That is something I am going to really have to think about because I have always been that way. I have always put myself out there. Really need to think long & hard about that. He also recently commented his opinion that he wouldn’t want to live with something like me behind me. Believe it or not, I get that too. He also said he is getting slammed on Patch. I had a lot of people supporting me with their comments on his story. Mostly because they didn’t feel the whole story was told. Did he not feel that I got slammed on the 1st article? I was supported by friends & strangers alike. And for that I am grateful I am sorry he felt attacked. What I don’t understand is what his goals are as far as I am concerned. Whatever it is, I wish him luck…I guess. I just don’t think I am that interesting. Like the reporter from CBS said last night. 1 neighbor making a complaint about my animals is not a story. Of course I wish I weren’t his primary focus right now. It is upsetting. But that is his energy, not mine & I am trying really hard to separate myself from it.

The 2nd item is much more important. I received the following comment on my blog yesterday:

I don’t usually express my opinions in a public forum but I am making an exception in this case. I know ***** and know her well and she is a very intelligent, kind, caring person who loves animals. And I grew up on a farm and I cannot imagine so many animals in such a small space.

Stacy you put every detail of your life out there on social media. So how could you feel violated by Tanya simply requesting that you comply with the law? And if you can’t afford to fix up the exterior of your house how can you afford to buy and feed over 40 animals? I don’t mean to be attacking you I am sorry for you. But ***** has been equally upset, and it is not her fault, it is as a result of your inconsideration. Even you admit that the roosters kept you awake but you didn’t get rid of them until ***** complained. That is inconsiderate. Did you think the neighbors couldn’t hear the rosters? Apparently you didn’t care. So I think you should step back and think about the facts. Urban farming is good if you have enough space you don’t. So if you really want to raise chickens and live stock buy a farm.

I certainly appreciate my neighbor’s friend’s thoughtful comment. And I appreciate that she supports her friend. And again, she is right. I put it out there very publicly. I was hurt & upset & I vented to my friends in a very public way. Something I am really starting to regret. However, my neighbor didn’t make requests. If she would have come to me with requests, I would have worked with her on a solution that would hopefully work for all of us. She chose not to go that route. And, of course, she is well within her right to handle things the way she did. I am also sorry about the roosters. As soon as I found out that I had roosters, which you can’t tell when they are young, I immediately let several of my neighbors know that I planned to get rid of them immediately. However, the feedback I received was that that the neighbors enjoyed hearing them. Even the neighbor located right next door to *****. So, I kept them. I wish she had let me know that they bothered her. And as soon as animal control came, I voluntarily gave them up to a lovely woman in Athens. I was not trying to be inconsiderate. Really.

On the “moving to the farm” thought. You know, that is probably true. It is possible that this is where I belong. And that discussion has been had several times  in the past months. It is something we are definitely considering. However, my animals are well cared for & that has been verified by several folks.

I am sorry that your friend is having a difficult time. I am sorry for this whole mess. But, much of it could have been avoided by a simple neighborly conversation.

Lastly, you have a point about our finances. As a good friend said recently ” The fact that you’ve put all of your energy and any extra money into them and not into the upkeep of your house is the issue, I’m sure as well.” Again, something I really need to put some serious thought into.

To wrap it up. I am done. No more public conversation about #chickengate. I have appreciated the support to no end. I am sorry that my neighbor feels the way she does. We are going to comply with the city’s request & I will be getting rid of some of the animals in my care. I will make sure that they will go to loving homes & not end up dinner. Folks can say or write what they will. I will not be devoting any of my energy to that. I hope to this will all come to a resolution very soon. I never meant to offend or be inconsiderate to others. I know that I will never change the mind of those that do not agree with me. However, I hope that at some point, we can live as neighbors without animosity & if we ever have a complaint we can feel comfortable that it will be taken seriously & we can always work it out.


Chickengate 2011–The fallout

4 May

The city came to my house yesterday for what I assumed to be a determination about the care of my animals, whether or not they had adequate space & whether or not my coop had enough setback from my neighbor . Know that I have been extremely embarrassed by my home for a very long time. We bought our house because it was located in an amazing community, it was a classic bungalow & we had big dreams of restoring it to it’s original beauty. It hasn’t quite happened that way. We still love our community, but bit off way more than we could chew with the house. So, for years I have let very few people in. Even my business partner of 7 years has only been in once. So, when all this started up about my animals…the neighbor, attention & article, I felt invaded.

So, sorry…back to the animals. The part about the house will make sense in a minute. The city code enforcement shows up & before they have even entered the back yard, they told me the exterior of my home needed to be repaired & painted. As if we wouldn’t have already done it if we had the money. The city officials moved to my backyard where the animals are kept. It was determined that my animals had adequate space & that I maintained sanitary conditions. They also determined that some cleanup was needed in the yard, which included removal of some overgrowth & some construction debris. These were things we were already working on. They also determined that I would need to move my coop, which I anticipated & that they would be notifying me of where it needs to be located. All of the things about the yard I anticipated, but the house?! Thanks to this woman, I now have to do work that I am simply not sure we can afford. I am sure that she takes great pleasure in this.

Meanwhile another article runs about the situation which was totally biased on the other side. The reporter interviewed several of my neighbors, many if not all had many wonderful things to say which he never quoted. One of my neighbors stated that every time she hears the animals, it reminds her of when times were simpler. Yet another stated that anytime he has someone over, he takes them immediately to see my animals. AND, yet another neighbor said many positive things, but the reporter took the interview & turned it around to sound negative. Furthermore, this reporter apparently stood on the other side of my fence & took pictures of my yard while my kids were playing outside which frankly, I find creepy. He even initially posted a picture of my daughter on the site, which I immediately requested to be taken down. I am all for presenting both sides, but this was simply not done. I keep trying to remind myself that the articles do not matter. BUT, he did quote the complaining neighbor saying that she “can’t entertain in her yard because of the smell” (there is none) & that she “can’t cook in her kitchen.” Are you kidding me?! No one’s opinion matters except for the city’s & I just need to make sure I comply with their requests. Of course, this is not over for my neighbor since she has now decided to take her fight to the city commission & the mayor. I believe she will have a fight on her hands as this community is very supportive of urban agriculture.

This has all put a great strain on me & my family. I would love to bury my head in the sand & hope it will all go away. But, since this woman has made it her personal mission to go this route, I simply have to keep moving on & hope that the universe had some big plans for us. I have to believe that this is happening for a reason. And a good reason at that.

Yeah. Clearly “livestock”

30 Apr


Chickengate 2011

29 Apr

So, where to begin?? About a month ago, I came home to a note on my door from Decatur Animal Control. All it said was “call me.” I completely freaked out & called immediately. Of course, I didn’t get a same day response. The next day, I went directly to the police dept. The gentleman at the desk stated that if it had been any big deal that the officer would have referenced it on the note. When I told him the complaint, the officer at the desk rolled his eyes & said “If she only knew how cool chickens were.” Let me back up…The complaint was from the neighbor behind me who felt that my chickens were the cause of her rats. Not only is that a common misconception, but I have 2 overgrown lots on either side of me & the home next door to her was recently renovated which always sends the rats where? Right next door. Um, and guess what. We live in the city. There are rats.

When I finally spoke to the animal control officer, he was very nice. He said, of course, he must respond to every complaint. Would I put my feed up at night? Of course. Would I move it closer to my house? Absolutely. And on top of that, not that I had to, I volunteered to get rid of my 2 roosters. I am sure that someone who is not a fan of chickens would most certainly not want to have them crowing outside their home at 6AM. I wanted to make peace, I wanted to make her happy. I even went to her house so that I could talk to her directly. Not with any aggression, not with anger, but with a true desire to please her. She refused to answer the door. I wrote her a letter. No response. So, I carry on.

In the meantime, I get some goats. hee. Probably not a good move on my part, but as far as I had been told, completely legal. They are adorable. Button, 5 months & Holy Cow & Lil’ Victor, twins,  1 week old. So, the boys were a bit loud. If anything will cure me of the baby lust, it would be feeding twin goats a bottle 5 times and day. They are lovely…and needy. But, completely awesome.

On Monday, I received a call from a neighbor that the city of Decatur was at my house, walking around, taking pictures. What?! My hubby went out to see a bright red “CODE VIOLATION” sign posted to my door. Basically said “LIVESTOCK ILLEGAL IN THE CITY OF DECATUR. 30 DAYS TO RELOCATE ANIMALS.” By Monday afternoon I was in the city manager’s office. By 5:30, I was told that my goats, in fact, were “companion animals” not livestock.

The next day I spoke with code enforcement & they could not have been nicer. She said, at the time, my animals are not an issue. I did need to cut back some vines & a little cleaning (I had stuff piled up for everything to the curb day) and that they would like to pay me a visit next week. And again, they couldn’t have been nicer. But, someone coming into my yard to tell me if my yard meets code or not? Very distressing to me. Not to mention the weeds & vines are coming over from another neighbor’s yard. But, they are not in trouble, nor would I ever call the city on them. We are neighbors. I would talk to them directly.

At the same time, an article was published on a local blog type website. It was very positive. They had talked to me and the city, but not to the complaining neighbor. Everyone were, for the most part, supportive. But boy, there were a couple of folks that seemed to really have an issue. They called me a “hoarder” amongst some other awful terrible things. They have never even met me! They have never seen my animals. I tried to answer their concerns, but I was only met with more attacks. So, I gave up. You can’t change someone’s mind when it is already made up. I thought it was done. But this morning, I am met in my driveway by a reporter who was following up. He went to EVERY single one of my neighbors. Which was really ok. But, the neighbors seem to think he had an agenda. They said he was really pushing them to say something negative. Wow. And, of course, the complaining neighbor wouldn’t talk. Of course. So, I get to be all nervous & stressed for the follow up article to come out Monday. I’m sure I’ll have a great weekend. The good news is, I’ve lost 5 lbs!

2 days ago, as my husband and I were talking in the kitchen & we see my neighbor, standing on something to peer over our fence! I immediately ran out & again, tried to approach her in a kind manner. She ran away. I turn around & see my turkey stamping on one of my ducks. Who was dead. Not only was that awful. But, could there be worse timing?! At 1st, I thought that perhaps the turkey did it. I immediately went on the message board to determine if this was possible. In the meantime, we heard from a neighbor that they heard a cat commotion at about the same time & saw a notorious orange cat hop my fence. Of course, one of my not so big fans went to the message board and announced in the comments of the article “Now her animals are killing each other!” I truly felt violated. Here, I go to my trusted friends to get advice & here someone goes & turns my own words on me. And that has been my feeling pretty much through the whole thing. Violated. Attacked.

Yesterday, I am in a meeting & receive an email from the city manager: I received an email from Ms. ***** that you have a dead chicken in your backyard” I replied “What? Today? Everything was fine when I left an hour ago, but I will go straight home.” I received a reply that this particular email was received the previous day. The woman just wants to make it sound like I have dead animals lying around in my yard! Really?! With the exception of being at work, those animals are checked on hourly, if not every 30 minutes. This is where we spend our evenings. This is where we had about 6 kids in the yard last night collecting eggs & feeding goats. This is my zen. And this woman has made it her personal mission to take it away. Why? I don’t know. I suspect she is thinking of selling her home & doesn’t want to have Green Acres behind her. Doesn’t she know where she lives? I feel so lucky to live in a community concerned about sustainability, where if there are chickens or any animal needing saving there is a message sent out on our listserv. People move here because of what this community stands for. I had a member of my community yesterday tell me I was “pioneer for urban agriculture.” It meant the world to me. But honestly really feeling beaten up right now & not sure I am up for the challenge.

I could go on & on but basically, I meet with the city next week. I will know more then. Till then, I can’t eat, sleep or concentrate. I am a believer in karma. I hope that I have put enough good into the world & that things will go my way. We’ll see.

Holy Cow & Mocha BFFs

17 Apr

Mocha & the baby goats have been quick friends!

More Hatching!

2 Apr

It has been an exciting day to say the least! Every little chick that has made it’s way out of the shell has been an event. They work SO hard & then they are incredibly exhausted when they break free. Welcome to the world little ones! We are going to spoil you rotten!

Hatch 2

2 Apr

Baby chick breaks free from the shell. Sorry this is a long one!

Hatch 1

2 Apr

Emma’s eggs are hatching! I can’t believe it looks like most of them are going to hatch!

The Anticipation Is Building!

31 Mar

Egg Hatching Calendar

The anticipation is killing me! We have eggs set to hatch on Sunday. This is my 2nd attempt at a hatch, the 1st one didn’t turn out well, but that is a story for another time. So far, this one has gone perfectly. I know at least 2 have little squirmy chicks in them!

The one’s I am most excited about are too dark to see when candling. They are from our beloved, Splash Orpington, Emma & her betrothed, Blue Orpington, Party Horn.

I just added the extra water & I am a bit concerned about the temperature. Last time, I added water & like a doofus, didn’t think to add WARM water. The temp dropped significantly. This time, I added warm water & I have my fingers crossed. According to the directions, I am not to open the incubator until after the hatch. Oh my! I can’t wait to see them! That will be torture!

Sleep tight my lovelies. I can’t wait to meet you!


30 Mar

It all started so innocently. I decided to share my apple with Tom Turkey.

Then I attracted a couple of friends…



Little birdie on my shoulder…


Guess Jada wans’t going to be denied!