Those dirty, nasty, baddie-bad…somethings!

Last week, I received an intriguing notice in the mail.
It stated that there had been complaints regarding the “chickens and the goat” in my backyard. It outlined that I’d better attend the upcoming Town Council meeting or risk penalty as well as the removal of these animals. Wow!

official business!

Isn’t that…neighborly? 😉

My first response was a hearty, “HA!”
My next was a quizzical brow, a slight frown, and a “Who?!”
My final (no, not final, but third) response was, “RI-diculous!”

Now, for those who have been following our story, you’ll recall that yes, we did indeed have a backyard experience with a goat; Dora-the-goat, to be precise. Unfortunately, it was a one night stand. The morning light found her heading to a farm for the weekend, and then onto a new and very long home far from this town.
[Interestingly enough, the home where she spent those nights of waiting was that of the BYLAW OFFICER for the town! Anyone else find this both amusing and ironic? This was the sweet-hearted individual who thought Dora  was a lovely goat indeed, and who also went on to help us prepare for our hens by giving us straw and teaching me how to clip their flight feathers. Yes, the same individual who would have been called upon to enforce my law-breaking backyard flock. HA!]

Somehow within Dora’s short stay, some highly-concerned citizen felt uncomfortable with the knowledge that a dwarf mama goat just might be lurking about the town.  You know how unnerving goats can be 😉

scary scary goat

And then, the chickens. Those big bad mama hens. My oh my!

"Watch out! The chicken is going for the BABY!!!"

These chickens were known in this town as “the happiest chickens I’ve ever met!!!” (quote repeated multiple times by multiple citizens). They were happy. Healthy. Homey. They shared lovely eggs which were shared with others. They took care of our slugs and aphids, and provided some of the best photo op’s of the year. They came running when called, were cuddled and snuggled by multiple children, and were often found lolling in the boys sandbox amidst tractors and baby-boy excavation.

You just can't know what they're really thinking. It's the feathers. The feathers draw them towards covert activities. Like sandboxes.

But to someone, somewhere in the town, they were a nuisance.


Now, I’m not sharing this post to gather signatures or rally some kind of protest, but more for a place of reference for others  within the whole ‘backyard chicken’ community, as well as a word on living as neighbors. We are all neighbors to someone. (Even when we lived on the ranch and our neighbors were fifteen minutes down the mountain, they were still our neighbors. We called them when their horses got loose. We shared Christmas baking and coffee and wine. We recognized that while we weren’t going to be close friends, we shared fences and needed to invest in the health of them (or at least not seek to destroy them!))

Communication across the fences

In community life, marriage, friendship, and every other human interaction, we love to express that certain things and/or people,  annoy us.

How annoying!” “They’re just not our kind of people….” “Can you believe…!” “I’m sure they’re a decent family but…!” Too noisy, too dirty, too chatty, too reserved, too rich, too poor, too submissive, too outspoken, plain, too different:  too bothersome to our preferences and comfort and personality.

And it bugs us.
And we want to say something about it.
And better yet if we can (secretly and with a nice tight smile) do something about it without impeding our personal comfort or sense of esteem.

Like submit a formal complaint to the Town Office 😉

For some reason we think that some chickens or an unkempt yard or a barking dog or a disheveled teenager or …___ is reason enough to express OUR desires, OUR preferences, OUR opinions. We could just walk over and have a conversation. We could go offer to lend a hand and be involved (tidy the yard, walk the dog, meet the chickens). We could just get over ourselves and focus on things that actually matter in the world. But that kind of response is just so…inconvenient. So…uncomfortable.

So freakin’ neighborly.

This is all for now. J’s back supervising the rigs, the boys are settling for the night, and this mama is oh so tired. I’m not going to mention to Jem just yet that the hennies aren’t coming back in the summer. I guess I’ll leave that until after I stop by Town Council…and meet a few more neighbors 😉

Um, does this mean we can't bring the bull over? ;)

12 Responses to “Those dirty, nasty, baddie-bad…somethings!”
  1. jenivere says:

    I experienced something similar to this in the same town that you’re in. My husband was away for long periods of time as well, and while alone with a 3 year old and a newborn baby, I was not able to get outside to shovel the walk as often as I would have liked. And people complained. But not to me… to the homeowner/town/whoever. I was so disappointed that they would assume I was lazy, rather than wonder if I needed help! It was a good lesson to me to BE a different kind of neighbour. I was really p/o’d at the time, but I’m glad to have gained wisdom from the experience.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Kmarie says:

    That really sucks. I am sorry as it IS an injustice. I hate injustices and percievements that do not have the guts to tell people themselves…Drives me crazy- so many people have wrong opinions or bang on opinions about people and they never tell the truth ( like if someone is being blatantly mean and everyone feels it yet no one speaks. It’s wrong.)
    That is a cold way to break some news. You are right- very impersonal. If it makes you feel better we have had a notice too. It was when Philip was gone for a few days in the winter ( minus 30) and my family was sick. I did not get out to shovel snow. Usually when we shovel we shovel both sides of neighbours too….yet not reciprocated…I think people really just don’t give it thought unless it puts them out.
    At the same time don’t be too suspicious of surrounding neighbours. It may surprise you but often the random complaint can sometimes be as a simple as an elderly couple on a walk feeling put out by what they think is an injustice. It most cases I often think it is NOT the close neighbours but random passerbys with a knack for nosiness. ( our friends had that before too.)
    I am sorry that is the last thing a pregnant women taking care of kids on her own needs. Do you want someone to go with you or take your kiddos? (I am gone until after 3 but feel free to call:)
    Hope it goes ok.

    • Dea' says:

      Thanks for both of your comments! I had no idea snow was such an issue! Gonna be an interesting winter for me…. 😉

      To be honest, I’ve taken the whole ‘backyard animal issue’ with a grain of salt and gotten a good laugh and a good mirror-back to myself and my own need to be the kindest and most considerate neighbor I can be 🙂 And yes, It IS entirely ridiculous, but perhaps others can learn from reading about it. Given that we already decided to take the winter and spring off from ‘livestock’, I’m not going to follow up with attending Council (unless I drop them a line to let them know there’s no reason to pass a fine 😉 ). It’s somewhat providential that I had already chosen to move them out myself. (Especially since the letter was dated in August and I was supposed to be penalized by Sept 9!! yikers! I guess it got lost in the mail…?).

      All in all, a good lesson for everyone. There are true ‘issues’ in the world to put our time and attention towards. Hopefully the complainers will consider grander things to worry themselves about, and I won’t put too much time towards worrying about my own petty things. (Though I DO hope to bring hens back before too long…haha….)

  3. (Here’s the comment, in the right place…CHEERS!)

    I find it very interesting and extremely unfortunate that people find it easier to be secretly nasty to each other, instead of stepping up, asking questions or starting a conversation. That said, all we have control over are our reactions to others actions. As long as you are breathing and approaching the situation from a place of calm you can trust that there is a lesson in all this silliness and that it will turn out as it is meant to. Good luck!!!

  4. This issue makes me crazy. Whatever happened to nice neighbors? Here’s the thing: I get that something like snow removal IS a REAL safety problem (the chickens thing…MAYBE if you get someone who doesn’t take care of their animals in general…but otherwise I can’t claim to understand their concerns at all), especially for the elderly, whose footing is not so secure and whose very lives can be threatened by a broken hip. What I don’t get is this: why aren’t neighbors more prepared to help each other out there?? In all this time since I have lived on this street I have never ONCE had one of my neighbors offer to help us with it, despite having two babies in as many years, despite the long hours my husband was working early on in our life here.

    When my brother and I were little, we lived next to an older couple who had a perfectly manicured yard, edges neatly trimmed, errant dandelions plucked and destroyed on the as soon as they were spotted. But you know what? They never ONCE complained that our walk didn’t get shoveled all that quickly. Instead, that kind, gentlemanly soul, John, picked up his shovel and did our walks when he did his. Best. Neighbours. Ever.

  5. ilophoto says:

    Good reminder for us all….thanks D!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I’m not sure the size of your town, but my husband and I live in a very small farming community. We live on a farm a few miles outside of town, but we are still apart of the community.

    Boy am I glad we don’t live in town. It’s a very clean small town(which is a good thing) but ooks are very important to the community. Green, manicured lawns, everything must be kept up. But of course they don’t tell people that, it’s just an expectation that your neighbors have and if you aren’t living up to that expectation, then they talk about you. Never to your face of course, just behind your back.

    Isn’t it irritating?! While I can’t relate to you exactly, I definitely know what it’s like to not live up to someone else’s expectation. I know what it’s like to have people talk about you.

    Hopefully you can still keep your head up and just be the person you are. If they don’t like you or how you live, then it’s their loss.

    P.S. Maybe they genuinely are afraid of your chickens. They can be pretty intimidating with their pecking 🙂

    • Dea' says:

      Haha, thanks Elizabeth 🙂 They weren’t ‘pecky’ chickens (and they were contained so…) but I imagine everyone has something that bugs them. We’re fine, but just surprised and disappointed at the choice of communication and expression. I guess everyone’s in process….

  7. Brenda M. says:

    Dea, I am sorry that you’ve gotten that letter, with all of the nuances that it entails. But I’m laughing, too. I mean, really! Chickens??? and a one-night-stand goat???

    When our son worked for the Town for a couple of summers, he came home with the most hysterically funny — and sadly pathetic — stories of how some people in our little town spend their retirement years, keeping an eye on all things unnecessary. Did you know that one senior actually videos any Town vehicle traffic to see if they obey all traffic laws and/or any occupants are smoking? And SENDS the video to the Town on a regular basis?? Wow. If only that focus and determination could be focused toward something helpful…

  8. Sara L says:

    wasn’t me 😛 haha!

    But yeah, it’s too bad. But I think a lot of people are scared of confrontation and so they’d rather let someone else do their dirty work, like… complaining! It would have been better for these folks to introduce themselves and ask questions, etc. I could also understand if the animals were in the view of their yard and they found it to be ugly, but they can’t even see your yard!! I always kinda liked looking out the window and seeing them 🙂 I hope that back yard chickens get to be more common. It’s a great way to help keep family expenses down and give children practical responsibility. Love it! It used to be the norm in small towns too… But, thankfully there are others in town with chickens, so hopefully it won’t be an issue in the spring!

    Oh, and snow removal, yay, you don’t have any sidewalks!! no worries!


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