Wednesday, September 1, 2010
A few years ago friends of ours got chickens. The chickens were so much fun to watch, and our kids loved playing with them. The eggs from these hens were a bonus - added value to fun, little pets. We decided that a few chickens would be a wonderful addition to our yard. We asked our friends if there were any rules that Pickerington imposed on chicken-keeping. We were told that there weren't, that the codes and ordinances said nothing at all about chickens. So it sounded like a go. We spent the winter reading up on coops and aviaries and chicken care, and when spring came, we drove out to Grove City and picked out ten cute, little fuzzballs from a Craigslist posting. Driving home my daughter held them on her lap.
The chicks were a hit. The kids held them and played with them every day, and they soon became very tame. Little chicks grow very quickly, and our cute little chickies soon became birds of distinction. Their fuzz was replaced by true feathers, and they developed new and pretty colors. We expected that. What we didn't expect was that these chickens would each develop its own unique personality. And watching them hammer out their own social structure was fascinating. After dinner, we used to pull chairs out to the coop and just watch the chicks interact. Chicken TV. Educational and amusing.
Eventually the chicks all earned names: Sumo, Chickenardo, Ranelle and Ranette, Night-night, Speckles, Sparky, Zoe, Rodeo and Rosie. Sumo turned out to be a boy. But he was gentle and sweet, easily handled, and rarely crowed. So we kept him. We checked with the neighbors first. All the folks we asked said they didn't mind. Our next door neighbors absolutely loved him and loved hearing his crow.
Unfortunately the following spring, Sumo found his voice and started crowing all day long. We started looking to rehome him. It wasn't easy. We didn't want him to end up being dinner or a victim of cockfighting. We were picky about where he was going. Too picky. This past May the police came to let us know that someone complained about Sumo's crowing. We didn't want to continue upsetting our neighbors, so I posted Sumo's pic on Facebook. A friend of a friend saw him and was looking for a rooster and came and got him. Sumo moved about 50 miles away. We've visited him there, and he seems very happy.
Problem solved, right? Wrong. I returned from out of town to find a letter explaining that we were in violation of a city ordinance prohibiting livestock.
The ordinance reads in part:
(2) "Livestock" includes, but is not limited to, cows, horses, swine or any other domesticated animal or fowl ordinarily found on farms, or raised or kept for the purpose of pleasure or recreation (business or pleasure), but shall exclude dogs, cats and birds commonly kept as pets and any other animal commonly kept or sold as pets.
We thought, "Hmmmm, livestock excludes 'dogs, cats and birds commonly kept as pets and any other animal commonly kept or sold as pets.' Our chickens are pets. We don't make a living off of them, so they aren't livestock, and chickens have been kept as pets for a long, long time. We just need to call them and explain that we don't have 'livestock'."
So not true that.