Hi Everybody! I wrote this for my blog and for my local urban chicken advocates, but I thought it might be appreciated here as well. Those of you who are fighting the good fight; your efforts are appreciated; egg long and prosper! http://waybackwoman.wordpress.com Backyard Chickens: An Experiment in Civil Disobedience I am a criminal. I am blatantly and deliberately breaking a law that can (and has) sent my city’s police department to the front doors of like-minded citizens in my community. I’m giving The Man the middle finger salute. I’m currently in possession of approximately 43 pounds worth of contraband and I DO NOT CARE THAT IT IS ILLEGAL. Allow me to confess to my crime: I own chickens. Public Enemy #1 likes lap napping... More specifically, I own chickens in a residential neighborhood in a resort city that has made owning backyard poultry illegal. Now, before anyone swings a leg over their high horse, I do not keep my chickens on a cramped apartment balcony, in a dark airless garage, or allow them to waddle through my living room wearing adorable yet revolting poultry diapers. My hens reside comfortably in their own residence on a half acre of fenced yard. They want for nothing, and live exceptionally happy lives. To say that they’re spoiled is a gross understatement. They get more table leftovers than the family dog, routinely get bathed and blowdried (this is ridiculously cute, trust me), and have their very own retrofitted Fisher Price playhouse to come home to in the evenings. They come running when called, and love to snuggle. They might even have completely unnecessary zebra striped ponchos for wet weather, but if you ask me about their existence in public, I’ll categorically deny it. Yet, for all we provide for our hens, it’s nothing in comparison to what they’ve given to us. In the year since we’ve owned them, our eight hens have allowed us to reduce our food waste by at least 40%. They convert wilted spinach, mealy apples, leftover spaghetti, soured yogurt, popcorn debris, and freezer-burnt fish into enormous, goldenrod-yolked eggs so rich and decadent that you’d never believe that they contain three times the nutrients and half the cholesterol of store-bought eggs. Our compost pile is going to be black gold come tomato season. Our city has a very scary tick problem…except in my yard. These charming birds are endlessly entertaining to watch, and we’ll frequently see neighbors and random local children leaning over our fence to catch a glimpse of what appears to be a tiny gray Tribble scurrying across the yard. These are pets that produce, and in the height of summer, we’ll routinely get two dozen eggs a week; plenty for us and for others. This is the face of Evil, folks. My entire neighborhood is accessory after the fact to my crime. They are guilty of accepting delicious contraband produced by my contraband, and they don’t care. No less than four stopped by during coop construction to pet the birds and offer advice from the days when their parents raised chickens during the Depression. Seriously, I have met more neighbors thanks to these chickens than by any other means. However, my city council is currently embroiled in a nasty lawsuit with another backyard chicken owner that has gone all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court and back again, with no discernible result besides spending thousands of dollars in taxpayer money. Every day that I let my girls out of their coop to stretch their legs and enjoy the winter sunshine, I’m in danger of being censured, fined and forced to relinquish my property. If I refuse, I (like other owners who have fought to change my city’s laws regarding backyard poultry) could have my yard raided by the police in the wee hours of the morning, be sued by the city, and be forced to hire a lawyer to defend my right to produce my own food. Your pets poop sadness. My pets poop delicious food. And you know what? If it comes to that, I’m going to do it. I have a fantastic army of fellow scofflaws on my side, and they’re not going gently into that good night. These ridiculous, productive little animals singlewingedly hauled me out of a fairly serious depression after an incredibly stressful year. They harm no one, bring a smile to every face they meet, and have significantly contributed to my being more responsible for my food and my environment. They’re just a few chickens, and they are worth fighting for.