Tag / Barnstable Agricultural Commission

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

One Rooster Allowed

Well, we knew that it was going to be inevitable.  Barnstable now has a law regarding chickens.  With the popular trend of gentleman farming and people starting to keep backyard flocks of their own, it only took a few careless chicken keepers to force the hand of the lawmakers in the Town of Barnstable.  With the assistance and guidance of the Barnstable Agricultural Commission, a new law regarding poultry keeping in the town was passed and will become effective come the beginning of June 2011.

Complaints have been few but those that have occurred have been difficult for mediators and town officials to resolve without having any laws to assist them with their efforts.  Noise caused by roosters has been the issue.  Can you believe that people in our town have gone so far as to tape record their rooster’s crowing and play it back to the neighbors at extreme volumes?  Well, it happened.  So, now we have new regulations.

The new regulation is only in regard to roosters.  There are no laws or restrictions to keeping a flock of hens in your backyard.  You can continue to keep your flock.  The new law will enforce individuals living on less than 5 acres to only keep 1 rooster.  Unless you live on 2 acres or more and can show $1000 farming profit on your property, you cannot keep more than one.  All rooster will need to be housed and locked up between the hours of 7pm and 7am.  In addition, there are similar guidelines for noise complaints based upon the Dog Noise Ordinance in the town. 

The law no longer applies to Tilly’s Nest as we have rehomed Chocolate, but I must say that he became incredibly symbolic to me while we tried to reach a fair and reasonable ordinance.  He represented backyard roosters.  We practiced good rooster management and our neighbors adored him.  He was one of the reasons why I became involved and eventually became a member of the Agricultural Commission.   It was important for me to make sure that people who were considerate with their rooster would be able to keep them and not be penalized for the behavior of a few bad eggs.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Saying Goodbye

Well, sometimes the best laid plans can change.

After I finished posting yesterday, my friend with the farm called and asked when I was going to bring my chickens over!  Her ears must have been ringing!  She also asked about Chocolate and if I was ready to bring him too.

 

Past Winter, reminding Chocolate who is boss by cradling him on his back.

I went through the motions almost trying to numb the reality that today was going to be the day that Chocolate would be rehomed.  Chocolate became very symbolic to me.  He helped me advocate with the town to allow individuals to keep backyard roosters.  He graces the cover on the Agricultural Commission brochure that I helped to create.  He also served his flock well, protecting and warning his girls from danger.  He is the father of our first brood.

I caught him and gave him the most love that I could.  As tough as it was, I placed him in the box.  I also decided that Meesha our little Silkie girl who has been broody for over 2 months was going to need a change of environment if she was going to survive.  Sitting in the nesting box had made her very thin.  As much as I could, I intervened but it was just not enough to break her broody spell.  Next, I took all of the chicks from the brooder except for one of Dolly and Chocolate’s chicks and Dottie Speckles.  I placed them in another box.

We drove over to the farm and the little Silkie Chicks went right into the run with my friend’s twenty or so baby silkies of mixed ages.  Soon they blended in so well and seemed so happy that they were no longer decipherable.  They were happy.  Next Chocolate and Meesha were placed in their very own cage.  I had done it.  Chocolate could no longer try and harm my daughter.  Meesha would be nursed back to health and the babies were now in a large chicken daycare waiting to find new homes.

Later that evening, Dottie Speckles and our little Silkie newly named Fifi joined the larger flock under the cover of the night.  I placed them in the nesting box with Dolly.

Photo Credit:  GLC

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Roosters in Barnstable

Two nights ago, roosters in the Town of Barnstable were met with more debate.  Fresh from the town’s attorney, the Agricultural Commission was presented with another draft of the inevitable law.  Interestingly enough, some parts were entirely different than what were discussed at the last meeting this past December.

The beginning of this new draft was similar to local right to farm laws.  The new draft would allow individuals other than farms (over 5 acres) to keep 1 rooster at any given time.  If you have between 2-5 acres and could prove $1000 profit/acre than you could be considered a farm.  This would provide you with the ability to keep more than 1 rooster.
The second portion of the law went on to read as follows:
“The rooster would be kept in between the hours of 7pm to 7am in a fully enclosed structure impervious to light and weather, separate from all dwellings and set back at least 50 feet from all boundary lines.”

The majority of members on the commission agreed unanimously that this second portion should read as follows:
 “The rooster would be kept in between the hours of 7pm to 7am in a fully enclosed structure.” 

They recommended eliminating the remainder of the clause because it prevents individuals from practicing good livestock management.  Chickens, roosters or hens, need to have fresh circulating air at all times.  In regards to the 50 feet, if the rooster is quiet, the setback is not an issue.  The remaining portion of the law does include a noise nuisance clause.  This would regulate noise that is 150 feet from the rooster’s dwelling and continuous noise lasting over 10 minutes.  A three strike fining rule for each violation remained.

Slowly but surely this law is going to come to fruition. I want it to be fair to roosters.  Crowing roosters should have the same rights as barking dogs.  At times they are both capable of annoying the neighbors.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Swearing In

Well, I have been officially appointed as a member to the Agricultural Commission in the town of Barnstable.  Today I am going down to the town hall to be sworn in. Our next meeting is tomorrow night.  I am looking forward to it.  I believe that we will be voting on the matter of roosters in the town of Barnstable.  I feel a sense of self pride with this appointment.  I hope to serve in my position well.  This is a new chapter for me.  My involvement in local town politics comes as a surprise to me.  I am constantly reminded that life’s journey is full of surprises.  This one is especially important for my flock.  I hope to make both my human and feathered families proud.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Future Elected Town Official?

I attended the last Barnstable Agricultural Commission meeting in November 2010.  When I was at the meeting,  I was invited by one of the Commissioners to apply for a vacancy on the commission.  At first, I thought that I could potentially be overwhelmed by adding one more thing to the ever growing list of my volunteer work.  Then I thought it over for a while.  If voted in, I could help make a direct difference in how livestock, farming and gardening are represented in the Town of Barnstable.  I could be beneficial and positive in many ways through bridging the gap between farmers and non-farmers, supporting Farmer’s Markets and community gardens while fostering relationship with various regulatory agencies in Barnstable. With my background, personal experiences, my career in medicine, volunteer work, gardening and raising backyard chickens I felt that I could be an asset to the the commission.  I submitted my application for review.

Over the past couple months, I have been going through the application process.  Last week, I was interviewed by the Town of Barnstable Commission Board.  I am pleased to announce that the board voted in favor and nominated me to the Town Council for final consideration.  The long and short of it is, if all goes well, then I should be voted into the position by the beginning of February.  So, wish me luck and send positive thoughts.  I hope that bridging the gap with fairness-especially when it comes to keeping chickens-will keep their future bright.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

I Am A Rooster Advocate

I have become quite the advocate for roosters’ rights in the Town of Barnstable.  As you know, I went to the Barnstable Agricultural Commission meeting a few weeks ago, and boy, have I been busy entertaining all sorts of questions.  I have been contacted by both the Barnstable Patriot and the Barnstable Enterprise for interviews.  I have also had the pleasure of meeting many people along the way that also have a love for roosters.

I’m not quite sure how I got in the middle of this in the first place.  I have been giving that question a lot of thought lately.  I think that I have my answer now.  Interestingly enough, before my life as a Cape Codder, a mother of two and a lover of all things chicken, I lived in a large city on the West Coast.  I was in the fast paced world of academic medicine.  I wore many hats as an educator, lecturer, professor, mentor, advocate and researcher in my field of nursing.

As a little girl, I was always a nurturer.  I was concerned when I saw people being bullied.  I was awkward as a child and a move across town and then the country did not help.  I was shy, quiet and an observer in life.  In eighth grade, I got hit with a double whammy; large eighties style glasses and braces!  I toed the line.  I was never one for my parents to worry about.  I was a good student and I stayed out of trouble.  I was a child who always looked out for others and wanted so much to please my parents.

Interestingly, I was drawn to nursing.  I attended one of the top schools in the country and there I emerged from my shell.  I owe my education much credit for the person that I metamorphosed into today.  I became a strong voice, confident, articulate and able to advocate for the patients against the toughest meanest old-school physicians while caring for my patients.  I was no longer shy or quiet.  In fact, I was quite the opposite when it came to advocating for those patients who could not do it for themselves.  I advocated for gang members, homeless, drug addicts, abused elderly and children.  I was a voice for all and I was not afraid what anyone else would think.  They were all that mattered in their times of need.

Our move to be closer to family and seek a quieter slower paced life for our children, lead us to life on Cape Cod.  I traded in nursing for motherhood and sat back, relaxed and began to enjoy watching my children grow. 

Chocolate, our rooster, is a huge part of our chicken family and we all adore him.  I think that my nursing background kicked in when we were told that there was a possibility that we could not keep him.  He did not have a voice.  He could not go to the town and tell them that he was just doing what came natural.  He needed a voice and I sprang to action.  Here we are today, with another article slated to come out that I was just interviewed for last week.  I answered so many basic questions that the reporter asked as he tried to grasp a basic understanding of chickens.  I felt proud to speak on behalf of these amazing creatures.  I am their voice.  I am their advocate.  I understand them and I hope to help others understand them too.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Barnstable Rooster Ordinance Update

I am so glad that I went to the meeting last night regarding the rooster regulations in the town of Barnstable.  I was happy to see that seven other residents from town were there too, all in the defense of their roosters.   Apparently, the rooster subject is not a new one.  The Barnstable Agricultural Commission has been working on this for a while with one of our town council members.  There have been some legitimate complaints about noise from roosters across town.  However, there are no laws pertaining to roosters in town.  Without an ordinance specifically for roosters, the town is unable to control some volatile situations that have arisen in neighborhoods.

I felt like we came to this meeting just in time.  Last night, a town council member brought the draft of a rooster ordinance that was to be voted on and perhaps implemented at last night’s meeting.  However, due to public comments and concerns, the ordinance as presented and drafted was edited and will be go back to the town and legal counsel for revision.

Initially the rooster ordinance introduced last night, although vague and broad, left a few of us with an uneasy feeling in our stomachs.  The rooster ordinance basically had three key items.  In layman terms, they were as follows:

1.  Any person with a rooster must have at least 2 acres of land

2.  The rooster must be plainly audible from 150 feet or less from the complaint site.

3.  There is a three strike fining component before there is any other action.

The meeting lasted for two hours.  After much contemplation and debate, the Barnstable Agricultural Commission decided on striking that 2 acres of land are required for a rooster.  They also struck the wording “or less” and made it just 150 feet.  They are also planning on clarifying what happens after you have had 3 strikes. 

So for now, the rooster ordinance draft, will go back to to the town’s legal counsel for rewording and reappear in a new form at the next Barnstable Agricultural Commission scheduled for January 2011.  The most interesting twist of the evening came when the commission personally invited me to apply for the vacant seat on the commission.  Isn’t it funny how life just sorts itself out?  Last night I was definitely in the right place at the right time.