Sunday, April 6, 2014

It is so funny to think that this journey began about 6 years ago! I wonder if folks still find information on this blog useful? Right now I only have 4 chickens in my backyard coop, and I'm happy with that number. My daughter would like to get more, though - so we'll see... we'll see...

I mainly wanted to post today to share a link to the Facebook page that deals with Wake Forest Chickens. I did not start this page, but there is a great community of backyard chicken folk congregating and communicating on the page. Here is the link:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/WFChicks/

I hope your chicken endeavors turn out as successfully as mine have! I am so happy with my 'chicas'!


Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Grain Mill of Wake Forest Begins Cooperative Membership Campaign

An unfindable location on a one-way street with bad parking; for most businesses this would be a recipe for disaster. For David Bissette, proprietor of The Grain Mill of Wake Forest, it indeed was a challenge to overcome. The bigger challenge has been the results of operating a successful bulk foods business in only 700 square feet of retail store.

Against the odds, The Grain Mill has managed to remain in business, add more products, and completely run out of space in three years. For this reason, The Grain Mill will be launching a $130,000 crowdfunded membership and donation campaign from March 4th to April 15th. Rather than go the traditional route of bank loans or venture capital, David hopes to capture the same spirit of “word-of-mouth advertising” that has sustained The Grain Mill those three years. He is using the crowdfunding website IndieGoGo.com as a means of raising support.

Crowdfunding is when many people with a commitment to a cause contribute affordable amounts of money, rather than one or two people committing to the full amount. “It’s a socially equitable way of funding projects and businesses. It’s total risk management. No single person has their neck stretched too far.” said David.

The Grain Mill’s expansion would concentrate on four specific tasks; to expand its product line to over 250 products in bulk, to build an inspected teaching kitchen classroom, to install a dry-pack cannery that would be one of only two in North Carolina, and to interface with local producers to create a farm-to-fork shopping experience much like a week long farmer’s market for its membership.

Since opening The Grain Mill in June 2010, David has concentrated on the very specific niche market of procuring bulks foods from Amish country in Pennsylvania, and making them available locally for a reasonable price. The Grain Mill regularly draws in customers from Garner, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Holly Springs, and as far away as Charlotte, Richmond, and Fayetteville. He once had someone drive in from Cincinnati for a weekend. “They bought a lot of food!” laughs David.

Changes are, if you saw something you liked on your tour of Amish country in Ohio or Pennsylvania, The Grain Mill can get it for you. David ships his products across the United States and offers a convenient pickup option for locals on over 5000 bulk food products.

But level of quality, economy and service comes with a price. Grain Mill customers have learned what ‘dancing with strangers’ really means. On a Saturday afternoon with not unusual to find six or seven people pirouetting around each other in search of wheat, beans, natural sugar, or organic loose leaf tea.

“I’m out of room!” says David. “My customers are asking me to carry more organic and certified chemical free products, and are interested in gluten-free eating, but I’m out of space. An additional 2800 square feet would go a long way to alleviating this traffic jam.”

More information about the The Grain Mill’s IndieGoGo membership campaign can be found online at www.igg.me/at/thegrainmillwf

The Grain Mill of Wake Forest is currently located in the mother-in-law apartment of 230 South Main Street, Wake Forest, NC. David can be contacted via email at david@thegrainmillwf.com or via telephone at (919) 526-4573. www.TheGrainMillWF.com

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Good Job, Silver!


After a short trip to my parent's house, we were very excited to check on the little broody hen we had in our back yard. You see, we bought 6 fertile eggs from a local farmer we met at the Tractor Supply store here in town. One of our hens, Silver, had been broody for a few days, so we set the eggs under her in the nesting box and waited to see if she would stay. Luckily she stayed put, but the other hens kept laying more eggs which she would promptly shove under her belly too. We decided to set up a separate enclosure for her to 'set' so she would be separated from the other hens in our flock and they wouldn't push her off of the eggs or lay their eggs in with her. One night after all of the 'girls' had gone to bed, we took Silver and her clutch of eggs to the new 'nursery'. She stayed on those eggs faithfully for 21 days! We only saw her out of the nest about once each day. Well, I never saw her out, but Taylor Anne said she did. Mike and I candled the eggs at seven and 14 days, but we really couldn't see a whole lot, because the shells were so darn thick! We did see some veining on day seven, so we knew they were at least doing SOMETHING.

Well... when we got home this morning, Taylor Anne ran straight to the little nursery pen we had set up, and started screaming "They hatched!!!!!!! They're already hatched!!!"

It was SO exciting! Although we have ordered and picked up chicks in the mail, and we have hatched our own using an incubator before, this was so neat to see! The mama, Silver, was sitting in the nest, and a couple of fuzzy little chick heads popped up through her wings to peek at us!



They are all different colors. We have one black, one tiny light yellow (bantam sized), one almost orange, another reddish one and two that have chipmunk coloring with brown and tan stripes and spots.
They'll live in the nursery pen until they're old enough to go in with other chickens, or we decide to sell them. Since it is unknown whether these six are girls or boys, we'll have to just 'wait and see'. We're so excited about our newest additions!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Henside the beltline tour!!!

Hen-side the Beltline Tour d’Coop
Saturday May 15, 2010
10am- 4pm rain or shine

The Fifth Annual Tour of Raleigh’s Urban Chickens and Their Coops
Sponsored by Whole Foods Market
Raleigh’s city chicken owners invite you into their backyards for a first-hand look at keeping chickens in an urban environment. Discover the variety of breeds that might be nesting in your neighborhood, learn about raising chickens in a healthy neighbor friendly environment, and see how families integrate chickens into their gardening practices. In addition, you’ll be impressed by the ingenious coops that can be devised to shelter these feathered pets.
Visit our blogsite: hensidethebeltline.blogspot.com
No surprise here, chickens can make you laugh.
Previous years’ Tours have been huge successes, with thousands of visitors enjoying the event. This year’s tour includes 21 returning and new coops and informational booths. You do not want to miss this unique “Parade of Combs” and their homes. Bring the family, but please leave pets at home, since some flocks are not accustomed to four-legged visitors.
Being Green, Eating Local and Fun Too!
Why do I keep chickens? Coop owners who were asked that question gave answers as varied as themselves. “I wanted to teach my children where food comes from”, “I wanted to live a more sustainable life”, “I grew up on a farm and wanted to continue some of those traditions”, “chickens make me laugh!”, “chicken manure makes great compost.” Gardeners, parents, farmers’ children, environmentalists and people with a sense of humor all enjoy keeping chickens in an urban environment.
Admission: Please bring a non-perishable food or cash donation for Raleigh Urban Ministries.
100% of the food and money collected goes to Urban Ministries. The 2009 Tour collected 2342 pounds of food and raised over $5300 for Urban Ministries. Founded in 1981, Urban Ministries of Wake County is a non-profit organization that provides essential basic services to close to 20,000 families and individuals in Wake County every year. These services include emergency and transitional housing, medical care, prescription medications, food assistance and other support services to promote self-sufficiency and a stable home environment for those in need. 94 cents of every dollar goes to services!
New this year the Tour d’Coop attendees have the option of donating online through Paypal prior to the tour through our website (www.urbanmin.org/chickentour)

Maps will be available the day of the tour at:

Steven B. Andreaus, DDS, PA (1637 Glenwood Avenue, across from the Rialto Theater)

Ornamentea (509 N. West Street, one block south of Peace Street)

CupAJoe (2109-142 Avent Ferry Road, in the lower level of Mission Valley Shopping Center)

Whole Foods Market (3540 Wade Avenue, in the Ridgewood Shopping Center)

Seaboard ACE Hardware (802 Semart Drive, across from Logan’s Nursery)

When: Saturday, May 15, 2010, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Where: Five Points, Oakwood, Avent West, and other Raleigh neighborhoods

For information about keeping chickens, Bob Davis, radavis413@msn.com

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Broody

Sometimes when you have hens, especially certain kinds, they can get 'broody'. This means that they would prefer to sit and incubate the eggs (or golf balls) in the nest instead of doing everyday scratching and foraging and running around... well... I think I have a broody hen. She's my cream colored Serama named Cutie Pie. I've not heard that Seramas are a particularly 'Broody' type of chicken, but Cutie Pie seems to be. She was also my first chica to start laying eggs. She first started acting broody several days ago, but once I removed the eggs that were laid from the nest, she would get up and go do normal things. I have been keeping a golf ball in each nest (to give the newly laying girls a hint of where to put their eggs), and now she's taken to sitting on the ball, even after I remove the eggs... This would be a great thing if I had fertile eggs and wanted to raise some chicks, but it's not such a great thing when we're not in that boat. I've heard that some hens will be so stubborn they will nearly starve themselves while sitting on the eggs, waiting for them to hatch. I certainly don't want that to happen! I guess I'm going to have to take the golf balls out of the nests now, so she'll go about her days again.
She won't even get out so other chicas can lay their eggs... she just gets squished... This is my Barred Plymouth Rock, Miss Betty, about to lay an egg, which Cutie Pie then pushed underneath herself, and sat on until I came and took it.
She has claimed this nest as her own... I'm going to remove the golf balls tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Uh... Seriously... Buy some GS cookies!


If you want some, you can email me! Check out this link for varieties available!

Monday, January 12, 2009

I'm SOOOO excited!


We got our first egg today! Check it out!
I think it was laid by either my Cream Serama, Cutie Pie, or my Barred Plymouth Rock, Miss Betty... If it was the Cutie Pie, it's a good size for her first egg since she's a Bantam... which makes me think it may have been Miss Betty after all... either way, I'm so excited!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Got Chickens? (We do!)

As I previously posted, I was planning to get day-old chicks. Well, those plans fell through, and I ended up getting some 6-week old chicks from a great guy named Jay Gregory - he runs Gregory Poultry, in Virginia. I first 'met' him through a yahoo group called ncpoultry2. To make the transaction, we met him in Winston Salem, while his family was there for a family trip to the Dixie Classic Fair. We drove there and met him in the morning, and by the afternoon, our new girls were settled in their coop.

We actually used the cage I had set up (I had to disassemble it) as the brooder to bring the birds home. (yes, we let them ride in the cab of our truck on the way home) On the ride home we got to know the girls a little better... uh... and smell them better too - six hens in an enclosed truck don't really smell lovely, just to let you know. We named them all by the time we got home. It was quite hard to keep the kids from sticking their fingers in the cage, and we used hand sanitizer liberally on the way home!

Here are some pictures of our new chickens - we've had them now for one week! They seem to be doing really well. They're used to their coop (they are too old for a brooder!), and they know to go up the ramp at bedtime!

This is one of the two Ameraucanas named Ginger.

Here I am, holding Sassy, one of the two Buff Orpingtons.

Anderson is holding Sassy also, who is saying "Please don't squish me!"


This is Betty, a Barred Plymouth Rock. She is the largest of the six, and the most friendly. After a week at our house, she will come running up to the front of the coop whenever you come by, and she likes to be petted.

Scarlett, our Rhode Island Red... she seems to be the most timid.


Gray Whitney - she's gray and buff/light brown - we named her after Ray Whitney of the Carolina Hurricanes.

This is Miss Priss... she's a Buff Orpington. We had originally named her Miss Piggy, but that has changed. She's very sweet and curious. She's the second most friendly one besides Betty.

The Wake Weekly did a final story regarding the "Hens in Wake Forest" campaign - I would like to give you a link to it, but it's not available online right now. The reporter used the picture of me above, and also took one of my daughter right next to the coop. It was a really nice story. I hope to be able to get it on here somehow so others (not in the WF area) who are following the story can read it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Setting up your brooder

If you have chosen to order chicks (like I did), you will need to have a brooder box for them to live in until they get big enough/feathered enough to go outside in your ark, coop, tractor, whatever you have...

Here's a picture of my Brooder box... it's a 19 1/2" x 32" guinea pig cage I got off of craigslist a year or so ago, and I've added some cardboard around the edges to help keep the heat in and drafts out! Right now I only have cardboard around half of mine because it's in a very protected spot in my house... under a craft table, up against a wall. I may add more if it seems to be drafty, but I think it's gonna be OK!


You may use a large cardboard box, an old cooler, a child's wading pool... whatever has sides big enough that the little peepers won't hop or fly out of(they can fly pretty quickly). You may need to put 'bird' netting over the top of whatever you have, depending on how high the sides are.



A heat lamp is a must... Brand new chicks need their temp at 95 degrees the first week, then each week after that dropping by increments of 5 degrees. If your chicks act like it's too hot, then you can adjust it - don't ever stand firm to these 'rules' - watch what your chicks tell you too! They sell clip-on ones at the home improvement stores, or you could rig it up to hang over the brooder somehow. It needs to be able to be adjusted, lower and higher so the chicks don't get too hot... and I think it's recommended to get the red bulb because it makes it easier for the chicks to sleep, and they're less likely to pick at one another too. Of course you'll need chick feeders and waterers. There are a couple of designs out there, but the main thing is to make sure you place them up on something like a brick or a board so the chicks can reach them but they don't get as much bedding and dirt in the food or water.


We decided to get a digital remote thermometer... like the ones you can mount part of it outside (transmitter) and then read the indoor/outdoor temps on the receiver inside. If you decide not to get a thermometer, you'll probably be OK - the chicks will let you know if they're too cold (by huddling directly below the light), too hot (by staying as far away from the light as possible) or if there's a draft (huddling to one side of the light)... if the chicks are peeping contentedly and moving around the brooder seemingly unaware of the temperature, they're probably happy!

For the first couple of days you will not need to use anything but paper towels as bedding... the little chick's legs can't handle the slipperiness of newspaper, and if you put them in the brooder with pine shavings or other types of small bedding material, they might try to eat it and get sick or die. Put the paper towels down, load up your feeder and waterer, get the heat lamp running and warm up the brooder - all BEFORE you go to get your chicks from the PO or wherever. You want to have things ready for them when they come....

This is the point I'm at now... ready and waiting to see the cute little fluffy butts!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

In the N&O, North Raleigh News section today:

Wake Forest approves household chickens
*****
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall, Staff Writer
Comment on this story WAKE FOREST - Emily Cole can have her chickens.
The Wake Forest town Board of Commissioners last week voted 4 to 1 to let Cole and any other town resident keep up to 10 hens.
Cole spoke to the town board last month, asking them to change a rule that required prospective chicken owners to get all neighbors within 500 feet to approve their plans.
Only one family has successfully convinced their neighbors to let them have chickens.
Cole couldn't. Though many neighbors had no problem with her plans, a few disagreed.
So Cole started a petition asking the town to loosen its rules. She eventually gathered several hundred signatures.
In August, town board members said they agreed that the rules needed to be changed.
Earlier this month, they considered a draft ordinance that allowed up to five chickens. Last week, after a public hearing, board members agreed to increase that number to 10. Cole had originally hoped officials would allow as many as 20.
"I'm really happy with the outcome, and I'm really excited that it didn't take six months to do it," Cole said. "I'm also really happy that the Wake Forest commissioners are open-minded. I'm excited that they realize it's a good step forward for the town."
Across the country, more urban and suburban residents are keeping chickens amid fears of the safety of the food supply and a desire to buy local products.
Until now, only the Bissette family in Wake Forest was allowed to have chickens. They were awarded a permit earlier this year after all of their neighbors agreed to their plans.
Neighbors and families at Holding Park across the street often stop by to see their hens.
The new rules mean that the Bissettes no longer have to get their permit renewed each year.
Dave Bissette said he wasn't concerned about getting the permit renewed, but it was a hassle. The family would have had to canvass all their neighbors again.
"I'm glad, quite frankly, I don't have to deal with it anymore," said Bissette.
Nobody came forward to speak out against the new rules at the public hearing. Town commissioner Pete Thibodeau was the lone dissenting vote.
Commissioner Frank Drake said many Wake Forest homeowners who live in neighborhoods where homeowner association rules ban chickens won't be able to keep them, despite the law.
Drake, whose grandparents tended chickens in a neighborhood when he was a child, said most people who contacted him supported the measure.
"I really don't think this is going to be as prevalent as vegetable gardening," he said. "Nobody seemed to have a problem with it once they realized that they lived in a neighborhood that had an HOA that forbade it."
Cole said last week that she wasn't sure when she will get her chickens, but it could be in the next week or so. Her husband has plans to build a miniature barn.
When Cole got home from last week's meeting, her husband and two young children were waiting to congratulate her with chicken drawings taped to the door.
They told her, the "chickens are coming."

sarah.lindenfeld@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-8983
*****

Needless to say, my kids are very excited about having some chickens soon!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

So, you want some chicas too? (how to start your flock)

OK - I know some of you would like to have a small flock of chickens. Now that it's legal in Wake Forest to have up to 10 hens (NO ROOSTERS), I've gotten some inquiries on how to start. So, I guess I'll put some info up here to help out if I can..... I will stress, however, that I am NOT AN EXPERT!!!! (I don't even have any chickens yet!)

First, you have to decide how many and what kinds you want to get.... there are SOOOO many different varieties out there, I couldn't begin to list them all. I will just give you a good idea of a few different ones... Please check out MyPetChicken or BackyardChickens for their info on breeds. There are several hatcheries that have great info too - there are links to these hatcheries on those two sites.

If you're looking for mainly egg production:
Plymouth Rocks (Barred, Black, White), Orpingtons (Buff, Black), Rhode Island Reds, Sussex, Leghorns (pronounced 'Leggerns'), and Australorps are going to be the most prolific egg producers... Then you also get into whether you want different colored eggs. There are the 'Easter-Eggers' Ameraucanas, which the Bissette's have over on Main St, and they lay green to blue eggs, and occasionally pinkish. There are also the hard-to-find true Auracanas which are blue egg layers. The Rhode Island Reds have brown, Leghorns have white...

If you just want some mainly for pets, and don't care much about eggs:
Polish varieties come in a myriad of colors (and have fluffy heads), Silkies, with really fluffy feathers that look like a fluff ball, turkens (really a chicken which looks like a bald-necked turkey), and almost all of the bantam breeds... they're in this section just because they've got tiny little eggs. (about 1/2 of standard size large eggs -they still taste great though!)

OK - once you've selected the breed(s) and how many you want, you need to determine how you're going to house them. I recommend you follow the 4 square foot/bird rule for your coop. I would say give them larger space if you're planning to keep them cooped up a lot. I recommend also, that you have a movable coop so your hens can forage in your yard safe from predators. There are TONS of options available. I love the CatawbaCoop chicken ark (he's having a $9.99 sale on them this week!!!) , I think it's a great, affordable design! It's quite attractive too, especially if you made it from redwood or cedar! I would suggest keeping no more than 4-5 standard sized hens in one full-time.

There are also links to coop designs that are for sale on MyPetChicken, and BackyardChickens has a great page full of user submitted photos and sometimes even step-by-step photos showing the folks building their coops. There are many different sizes and styles available - movable, and stationary - the options are unlimited - you could look at a few and then design your own perhaps!

My plan is to have a stationary (attractive)barn-style coop with a large enclosed run attached to it, but also have an ark in which I can take several birds out to forage around my yard where I want them. I like the idea that I can keep some things stored in the stationary coop - I'll use part of it (partitioned off) for storing my personal garden tools, gloves, and the chicken supplies. The plan is to have the nesting boxes on the interior wall so I can get to the eggs via a little door from the 'shed' side and not have to get my shoes dirty to get the eggs. My husband has been excitedly drawing up different plans and asking me what I want everything to look like! Many of you who want to own chickens are most likely pretty handy yourselves, and will be able to come up with a great place - if not, please check the links I mentioned above. Some places will even ship you a kit with detailed instructions, and you just assemble it.

Wow - so you've hopefully decided which breeds of hens, and how many, and how you're planning to house them... now - where are you going to get your chickens from??? That was my major dilemma this week - I am quite impatient now that I've got the legal footing to get some 'chicas'... and I don't want to wait! There are many ways to acquire your flock...

** purchase chicks online or find a local hatchery where you can pick them up, brood them in your house/garage/storage building until they get large enough and feathered out enough to be outside in the elements, then move them to your coop. Wait several months before you get your first egg, then have an 'egg party'! (this method allows you to hand-raise your chicks, which makes them more docile and people friendly ='lap bird')
** purchase 'pullets' online or from a local hatchery, place them in your coop when you get them and only wait a few weeks to get your first eggs. (you can't be sure of their temperament, but usually they'll warm up to you if they're young enough and you handle them frequently)
** purchase grown hens from somewhere close by and start off with hens already laying. You may want to be cautious about this method - some owners may 'fudge' a little about the hen's age, and then you may end up with a hen that produces for a short time. (you're also not sure of the hen's temperament or disposition when you purchase them already as adults, and they can be kinda set in their ways)
** rescue 'battery cage' hens - this is not something I have done much research on, but you can do an Internet search. Key Points: There are organizations which help place unwanted birds from commercial laying facilities, and you can help rescue a few of these poor animals. They're usually really awful and ratty looking at first, but from what I've heard, they warm up to human contact quickly and once they've molted and feathered out, they make great pets.

I have chosen the first option listed above, and have an order of tiny day-old chicks which are coming to me in 9-10 days. I can't wait to meet them! I'm very excited about raising these chicks and so are my kids. It will be a wonderful learning experience for my daughter at least, and something that will keep my son entertained for maybe 10 minutes each day! (he's 2!)
We may also get a polish bantam chick or another bantam chick from a friend locally since they're really cute mini-chicas. I think I'll let my daughter pick one out especially for herself.

Whew...!
So - if you have questions... please post them in the comments section... I'll do my best to answer. Otherwise, those sites I mentioned above are really great resources of information. Please cruise around them! BackyardChickens has a really great forum which is a wealth of information, and tons of folks will post pictures, advice, information, whatever you need! There are also several Yahoo groups dedicated to raising chickens, just search for one in your area. In NC, there are two that I know of, "NCPoultry-east" and "ncpoultry2" click to follow a link to that group.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wake Weekly and Wake Forest Gazette Stories

The Wake Weekly and Wake Forest Gazette both ran stories on Thursday about the 4-1 vote Tuesday night for allowing hens in Wake Forest. While the Wake Weekly's story isn't available online, click here for the Gazette's.

I have a feeling there will be quite a few small flocks popping up around Town in the next year or so. I hope that each of these flocks will be well maintained by responsible owners, and we won't have any complaints do deal with. I think this is a wonderful step forward for our community - let's put it into action!

I hope to have a few 'chicas' in my yard in the next couple of weeks!
Here's what I plan to build this weekend:


Perhaps I'll see a few of these around town soon too?!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's Official! Wake Forest Commissioners Vote In New Ordinance to Allow Urban Chickens.

It's Official! Wake Forest Commissioners Vote In New Ordinance to Allow Urban Chickens.

By David Bissette

WAKE FOREST, NC. - The Town of Wake Forest's Board of Commissioners voted tonight to approve the chicken ordinance amendment. In a 4 to 1 vote, Commissioners Chris Kaeberlein, Anne Hines, Frank Drake, and Margaret Stinnett all ruled to append the town ordinances with an urban chicken amendment. The amendment allows for the keeping of up to ten chickens inside the town limits, excluding roosters.

Dissenting vote Commissioner Pete Thibodeau voiced concerns that the ordinance amendment was not restrictive enough. His concerns were that people would house the birds in their front yards and that there were no provisions in the amendment for how the chickens were to be housed. "We could have chickens running around in the town's major streets." said Thibodeau.

Commissioner Drake countered each point, reminding Thibodeau that there were not provisions for the keeping of other pets like dogs and cats in the ordinances either.

The vote was taken after an open microphone discussion. Emily Cole addressed the board stating that she felt that the town's legal council proposal of five birds was too limited given the period of time that a chicken lays eggs verses it's lifespan. She then proposed that the amendment allow either ten or twelve birds. The assenting commissioners agreed to her proposal and increased the limit on urban chickens to ten during their vote.

Former California resident Jeff Boldizar shared with the board news of the Fair Oaks Chicken Festival. A suburb of Pasedena, Fair Oaks can be considered to be one of the chicken friendliest places in the US. Chickens are allowed to "free range" alongside humans on downtown streets and in city parks. While not advocating such a policy for Wake Forest, he did mention that he thought the trend towards urban agriculturalism would mark the town as a place where people would want to reside.

"I'm very excited about this vote," said David Bissette, owner of the only permitted chickens inside the town limits. "This really opens an opportunity for people to becomes more more familair with their food source. That is something that has been lacking in the American diet and way of life for over 50 years now."

WE DID IT!!!!!

Tonight the Wake Forest Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of changing the town ordinance so that residents may keep up to 10 hens in their yards without any sort of permit.


Woo Hooo!!! Yippeee!!! Cowabunga!!! (can you think of any other exclamation I could use?)


When the public hearing session was opened, I made a brief statement about the number being too low (at the suggested 5). Then, several other members of the community spoke in favor of the change. Gerald Potter, whom I had met at the Farmer's Market one Saturday spoke about the importance of people knowing where their food comes from, and talked about the Victory Gardens and Wake Forest's role in helping it's residents when times were tough by bringing topsoil in so folks could grow their own foods. Jeff Boldizar brought information about a town in California which is known for it's chickens - they even have a festival each year! Dave Bissette also chimed in with statistics about Victory Gardens and the fact that in the '40s about 40% of a person's food was grown or produced somehow within their community. The consensus was reached by all that the number of hens allowed should be raised to 10, and that it was an important step for the Town of Wake Forest toward a more sustainable future.

There were no community members in attendance who spoke in opposition to the amendment, however, Commissioner Thibodeau did have some reservations about the change. He stated his concern that if any size parcel could have 10 hens there could be problems. Commissioner Drake tried to reassure him that most of the newer home communities with these smaller sized lots were governed under HOA's and the point was made that most of the HOA's don't allow any hens, so it shouldn't be much of an issue. Thibodeau was also concerned about there being no limitations set on where the hens could be housed. He stated there could be traffic issues if chickens housed in front yards were to get out and roam into the streets. Commissioner Stinnett replied that there were no restrictions on cats or dogs in the same manner, and so she didn't see any reason for there to be such restrictions on the chickens either.

I personally do think that Thibodeau's points were valid - that's why I had originally drafted a fairly stringent ordinance revision for the Commissioners to review in August. Their own staff decided to go the 'easy' route and make it as simple as possible - The wording will only add roughly a paragraph to the existing ordinance books. While I understand the town doesn't have the staff to enforce the permitting restrictions I had proposed, I am surprised at the lack of restrictions. (Not that I'm complaining!)

When time came to vote on the issue, Thibodeau's "nay" was the only one heard, so that meant the amendment passed 4-1.

After the vote, I spoke with Kerry Hall from NBC 17 out in the hallway, and she said a segment will run on the 11pm news tonight. (I've got my DVR set to record!) The Wake Weekly's David Leone was there, as well as Carol Pelosi of the Wake Forest Gazette. I'm interested to see their stories later this week.

I am so thankful for all of the support I have received from this community - especially the Bissette family, and the folks who came out to the public hearing tonight. There were several others there who didn't speak, but showed their support by attending - THANK YOU! I couldn't have done it without that support, and without the knowledge that I wasn't just doing this for myself. This change to the town ordinance will make it much easier for many other families to have a few chickens of their own... have fresh eggs that they know are healthy... this is a great step forward for our entire community!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Come on out on Tuesday!

Tuesday night the Town of Wake Forest Comissioners will hear public comments on the issue of backyard chickens in Wake Forest. I am hoping they will also vote after they hear whatever comments residents have. I plan to ask the Board to consider allowing residents to have up to 10 or 12 hens without the livestock permit, as a compromise between Mr. Summer's suggestion of 5, and my initial request of 20. I am sure there are three commissioners in favor of this number, so I feel confident they will approve that change, and vote on Tuesday.

The meeting will be held starting at 7pm at the Wake Forest Town Hall.

Please come out to show your support for the changed ordinance!