I am so against the concept of Urban Chickens that I can’t see straight. Whenever the topic comes up I turn slightly rabid and start foaming around all orifices.
It makes little sense within my larger framework of live-and-let-live. Because, really, why does it hurt me if some electronics salesman over in East Nashville wants to have a few hens out behind his house? What business is it of mine? And how odd is it that I can pretty much be screaming about legalising marijuana, prostitution and non-heterosexual life partnerships but wish to damn the whole concept of urban chickening straight to hell?
I hate chickens. I just hate them in the way I hate clowns and dentists and other things that make my blood turn cold. I purposely did not buy a home in the country because I did not want to live among chickens. I purposely bought a home in a subdivision that has covenants and restrictions against livestock because I did not want to live among chickens. The libertarian in me believes that if you want to have a chicken then move to zoned farmland, which is where filthy, disease-ridden squawking, flapping nightmares belong.
I guess ultimately I’d say this is one of those arguments about where, exactly, the other fellow’s nose begins. It’s one of those arguments about what a community is–where a community begins and at what point a community turns into something too unweildy.
At the root of things I believe that people should have a right to do whatever they want on their own land. But then the messy fact of “other people” enters into it. Certainly one has no right to abuse his wife or her children simply because they are on land they own. As much as you may be a terrific mechanic, you don’t necessarily have the right to have ten or twelve cars pulled onto your front lawn in various stages of repair. And as much as you want fresh eggs and are trying to be all hip and local-food/slow-food oriented, you shouldn’t necessarily have birds cooped up in your backyard. They smell bad, they vector disease and they can be loud.
But most importantly, chicken phobics like me have often gone out of our way to ensure we live in a place away from all things chickeny. My neighbourhood isn’t very big. I think there are 183 houses, if I remember correctly. One of the things that sold the house to me was that we had a reasonable Community Covenants and Restrictions. There are rules about how high your lawn can(‘t) be, what type of fence you can build, what type of outbuildings you can have and what types of pets are allowed.
The only type of pets allowed here are cats and dogs. I can’t have a pet snake, as much as I want an albino boa constrictor. When I brought this up at a meeting, the other neighbours were appalled that I might bring a dangerous animal around their children. How I feel about live chickens is pretty much how a lot of other people feel about snakes.
So when it comes to Urban Chickens I think my libertarian position is going to be thus: I won’t campaign to stop any general ordinances in Metro Davidson in favour of urban homesteading, but I think it’s perfectly acceptable for a smaller community like a subdivision to block chickens in their own limits.