A victory for all hen lovers (except roosters)

Chris Bateman
By Chris Bateman December 9, 2014 22:17

“Let them have chickens,” read a headline heralding the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors’ decision to allow backyard poultry on about 17,000 residential parcels. 

“Unless they’re roosters,” the head should have continued, because Foghorn Leghorn and his noisy, randy ilk are strictly forbidden in or around backyard coops.

The county’s Community Development Department confirmed that male birds are not allowed under the new ordinance – which could conceivably permit some 50,000 perhaps unhappy laying hens in the county’s unincorporated areas.

Once the province of hayseeds, hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Mayberry, backyard flocks can now make themselves at home in some of our county’s tonier subdivisions. Rules allow two hens on lots of less than a half-acre, four on lots larger than a half, and six on each parcel of an acre or more.

But you won’t hear the cock-a-doodle-doos that tell escaped suburbanites that they’re really out in the country.

Sex discrimination? Well, roosters don’t lay eggs, and Big Poultry annually kills male chicks by the many million. But here in Tuolumne County, the rooster ban is more likely decibel discrimination.

Roosters can crow between 50 and 80 decibels, topping out at the level of an alarm clock or police whistle. And, as folks who really live out in the country know, these birds don’t just crow at dawn

Many years ago we had a hulking, ornery rooster named Elvis who rocked, rolled and crocked louder than any hound dog nearly 24-7. And, thanks to a chick dealer’s rather serious sexing error, The King was one of eight cocks that once strutted and crowed through our property.

Our neighbors complained, but the raccoons didn’t. And those ringtails (perhaps with help from coyotes, squirrels, foxes, bobcats, hawks, snakes, weasels and other critters who were all in favor of the county’s new ordinance) gradually took care of our cacophonous testosterone problem.

Meanwhile, chicken backers urged our county board to err on the side of more hens per lot.

“Do you want to be like China, where you only allow the family member to have one child on that quarter-acre?” asked one would-be poultry farmer.

Well, at least China allows a few of us guys to stick around.

 Copyright 2015, Friends and Neighbors Magazine
Chris Bateman
By Chris Bateman December 9, 2014 22:17
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1 Comment

  1. Hooey Pen December 10, 11:03

    I love the reference to Hillbillies as I kind of think of myself as one! Having lived here since 1983 and just
    attended a music festival in Quicksand,Ky. I think I am a baptized Hillybilly. You remain a terrific writer
    Chris Bateman!

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