Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Chickening Out

If there is one food species other than crab that Maryland is known for, it is chickens.  Purdue, Tyson, and others run vast chicken farms on the Eastern Shore.  If one wants to raise chickens in their backyard, however, that can be problematic.  The state only requires that poultry keepers register in case of an avian flu outbreak.  Counties have their own rules.  Calvert county only limits the number of birds you can have if you are raising them as pets, rather than for production.  The hangup occurs with homeowners associations.  A good number of homes are part of HOA's, including our own.  I have searched the rules for several of Calvert county's HOA's and found that one thing they have in common is prohibition of poultry and livestock.

In a state that prides itself on supplying a good deal of the country's chicken meat, this is singular. The reasons may be that odor could reach neighbors, or noise, or disease.  These rules are not in step with the times, however, since cities these days commonly allow backyard chickens.  The list of concerns can be addressed with rules similar to the one concerning barking dogs - if a neighbor complains, the burden is on the purported offender to make it right.  Disease is only a concern insofar as a neighbor or their pet comes in contact with an infected bird.  This would not be a problem since the chickens would be fenced in. I think the real reason chickens aren't allowed is that HOA's still think they live (as the Monkee's put it so long ago) "in status symbol land."  Get over it!  Suburbia, (much less exurbia) was a huge mistake and a trap if you persist in the notion that you can escape the problems of the world by commuting out of it.

My daughter-in-law's parents in Greece claim to be ready for the difficulties ahead, in part because they raise vegetables and chickens.  I envy them.  They may fare better than us unless our HOA or future municipality wakes up to the very real possibility that these "good times" won't roll forever.

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