Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Setback for urban chicken rights

Sadly, the meeting last night did not go as well as we had all hoped. The ordinance was not voted on; instead, it was sent back to committee for revisions. This is mostly a delay tactic by the opposition, which is frustrating.

To read a brief and over simplified version, you can look at the article in Missoulian today; Click here for article

So from here, what do we do? Well, the ordinance gets revised, then there are some tricky votes and such that will occur, and then after that the revised ordinance will return to public hearing and vote. At that time, it **should** pass.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Our loner hen

Beldar is really awkward and she's been socially rejected by all the other chickens. She can't really see anything because of her bizarre head feathers, and the other chickens all pick on her, both literally and figuratively.

Matt has been increasingly concerned for his little socially awkward hen. He's been talking about giving her a better "hair cut" so she can see, and I know he's been keeping a special eye on her. We finally did trim back her feathers today so she could see better, but it didn't have any immediate effects.

Poor thing. Matt is convinced she won't survive the winter, and I don't really disagree. At least, despite it all, she is beautiful.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Meeting on Monday

The official city council public hearing is on Monday the 27th, at 7pm in the City Council Chambers. This is on Pine next to Sean Kellys, in case any Missoulians need to know.

At this meeting, the public (as well as select city council members) will talk about the proposed ordinance change. Then, all members of the city council that are present will vote to either accept the ordinance change, or to "send it back" for revisions.

It is going to be a very tight vote. I have been asked to prepare a statement and present it at the meeting. I'm supposed to talk about my personal experiences owning backyard chickens just outside of city limits, as well as a couple of other odd issues that have come up (composting chicken poo, and feather allergies).

On a more personal note, all the brown layers laid today, but Pot Pie is having a day off. She's laid a minimum of 4 days in a row, so she deserves a break. Her eggs are really, really pretty.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Full report upon returning

We are back, and the hens are wonderful as ever. It is very fun (and very funny) to watch their egg-laying and bug chasing antics.

First of all, after talking with my mom, I wanted to mention that chickens DO really throw themselves a little post-egg celebration every day. My mom thought this was a purely cartoon and movie creation, which I suppose I might of thought too until I got my chicken literature and did some research. We heard them clucking, ba-cocking, and generally having a funny chicken party this morning as they were laying their eggs. Mrs Tweedy in particular seemed to like congratulating other hens on their eggs- she was very, very vocally supportive of Biggie's 10:30am egg (which was a nice brown egg).

I want to be clear that this is not a loud egg party. Hens are not loud. For instance, with the windows open, you could hear them faintly from the living room when two were having an egg party. With the bedroom window being at a 90 degree angle from the chicken pen, I doubt you could hear it from our bedroom at all. Also, I doubt my neighbors would have heard it unless they were in their backyard. Besides, 2 out of 3 of my direct next door neighbors are functionally deaf.

The real news is that the egg laying is going so well. We arrived home to 5 eggs on Tuesday, and another 5 were laid today. They are fascinatingly slightly different- different textures, finishes, speckly-ness, and shapes. We are still not sure on all the exact personal differences between the eggs, but a few things are clear;

Pot Pie lays a pale olive or avocado colored egg. In some lights, it looks kind of bluish in tint, but I'd say it is more on the light green side. It is a slightly smaller egg than a commercial AA egg, and more elongate. It is somewhere between matte and glossy finish, tending towards matte.

Mrs Tweedy lays a big, matte finish, perfectly brown egg. This is an egg you might buy at the store and not blink twice. Her eggs seem to be on the "plump" side, as opposed to elongated. They tend towards spherical, although not extremely so.

Biggie lays a bright brown, glossy finish egg. Her eggs are shiny and smooth, and tending towards elongated. Also, her eggs are a little bit small- about the size of Pot Pie's. This surprises me, as she should be a large size layer. I wonder if she'll grow into it.

Littles has yet to lay an egg that we can definitively pinpoint was hers.

Beldar has yet to lay an egg. Her eggs will be white. She is both the youngest chicken, and the one with the longest time to maturity, so it might be another month.

The Wyandotte sisters are laying medium sized, slightly pale, matte finish brown eggs with a very very subtle white dotted speckles on them. The speckles are a nice detail that sets them apart from the other eggs. Their eggs are the most conventionally egg shaped, although they are smallish. Like someone shrunk a brown AA egg about 15% and then airbrushed some perfect tiny white dots onto it. I hope soon we'll see if there are differences between Zippy and Rosie's respective eggs.

Hens, I am happy to report, like over-ripe tomatoes, accidentally kicked unripe pumpkins, too-large-to-eat cucumbers, enormous squash, and stale crackers.

We return!

We returned to 7 happy hens, 5 fresh eggs, and this in my email;

One of your chickens is a mutant. Well, beyond the obvious one. A brown egg laying chicken produced a very long egg, unusual in appearance. What was much more unusual- when I cracked it open, out popped....TWO yolks!! Creepy siamese twin chicks.
What is in your water?

Gotta love our housesitters. Thanks ladies and gentlemen!!!

More later.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Take the Chicken Survey

The Missoula City Council and the Urban Fowl Subcommittee have built a little survey to gauge public opinion on the chicken issue. If you live in or near Missoula, you are hereby encouraged to take the survey!


Also, FYI, here is the latest from our "farm" reports...

They are laying in the boxes! I haven't seen any eggs anywhere else. I can't really tell who is laying, Beldar may not be. I got 4 eggs today, 1 lg. brown, 1 small brown, 1 small-med brown slightly white speckled (only if you look closely), and 1 blue. Yesterday I think there was 2 small brown and I think the rest of the brown all varied in size... I'm enjoying your farm...!

Awesome. This suggests that everyone but Beldar is laying regularly. She was expected to be a late bloomer (she is more for show and amusement, less for egg production) so that is not a problem.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Eggs everywhere

The latest report from the field is highly encouraging-

The chickens are doing great. They must all be laying now, I've been collecting 7 eggs/day, all brown and one blue.

What is interesting about this is that we have 5 brown layers, 1 green/blue layer, and 1 white layer. So either my friend miscounted (certainly possible, and not a big deal) or one of the brown layers is double laying (also possible, but probably not good for that hen) or the white layer is laying brown eggs to spite us.

I'm forever indebited to my remarkable friends and their dedicated hen sitting. I know that the eggs are a nice bonus, but I just am sooooo glad that my friends are so thoughtful and careful to keep our hens watered, safe, fed, and happy. Thanks!! We'll be back soon and we'll bring presents!