Jerky neighbor...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ChickenBiffer, May 23, 2016.

  1. ChickenBiffer

    ChickenBiffer Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 30, 2015
    I'm curious about anyone who might have experience with backyard chickens and idiot neighbors. This afternoon, I had my chickens out ranging in the yard and I was sitting on the patio supervising them, just like I would if it was a pet bunny or a dog off a leash. So while I'm out with the chickens, my idiot neighbor comes out into his yard and takes a picture of my chickens, clearly was sending it to someone. Two things: in order to get this picture, my neighbor had to have used some serious zoom (I never let the chickens roam on that side of the yard, I KNOW he's a jerk) and since he was zooming in, I am quite sure he didn't include me in the picture (20 feet away from the chickens). In my town, we are not allowed to let chickens free range, but my chickens weren't going further than where I could see them. I've tried to look up my town's specific regulations and I can't find a technical reason why I should be allowed to *supervise* them outside, particularly if they aren't on someone else's property.

    Anyone ever experience really strict free range restrictions or neighbors who were this intrusive? It's a really strong argument for a tall privacy fence (on only ONE side-- all the other neighbors are great!) but that's the last thing I want to be wasting money on right now...

    thanks in advance!
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Elizabeth. I'd not waste any time worrying or fuming about your neighbor. Your chickens are on your land. You are supervising them. They are under your control. IMO, this is no different than a home owner who has his dog trained to stay in his yard. If the dog is under voice control, and does not leave the yard, no laws have been broken. If you let your chickens out, and they then fly over the fence onto the neighbor's land... then you've got a problem.
  3. 0wen

    0wen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2016
    Southwest Virginia
    Sounds like the law is on his side. Supervised free range is still free range and if you're town says it is forbidden he could potentially be collecting evidence to use against you. If you can't build a fence, I'd build a run - it sucks having to put cash into something you don't really want - but same cash will likely go towards fine eventually if he has an issue with them being let out.

    That being said, he may have legitimate concerns that you could address directly with him. I live rural so don't have many similar issues but did have a neighbor who let his turkeys run out (and as a result they were always in my yard). He came close to losing his birds to my shotgun or atlatl but he eventually got the message (even though he evidently has some issues that seem weird in civilization). Many recommended I work with him and request a dressed out bird come autumn but I really just wanted the birds off my land so I went to him (even tho he wouldn't answer his door - I eventually got the message to him through his brother/our shared neighbor)...

    Ultimately, I'd try talking to him. If he doesn't want the birds near his land, he unfortunately has an argument against you (even if it is stupid since it's not ON his land) that would likely prevail in court.
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j True BYC Addict

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    If he's that much of a jerk, it seems that a fence would be an investment rather than a waste of money.
  5. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    The big question is what is the black and white text of the law that you must follow in regards to ranging or being confined to a run?

    Sadly if you are not following the written law as written, regardless of your feelings you could face legal consequences, supervised free range is still free range...
    Last edited: May 23, 2016
    2 people like this.
  6. thetmoo

    thetmoo Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 5, 2016
    I don't agree

    Free range doesn't necessarily apply just because you let them out of the coop. To me, free range means they can go where ever they want without anything barriers (physical or your control) to stop them. I am guessing that the law was enacted so your neighbor doesn't have to put up with your chickens being in his yard. Chickens don't recognize property boundaries and would freely range across them if allowed.

    Free range denotes a method of farming husbandry where the animals, for at least part of the day, can roam freely outdoors, rather than being confined in an enclosure for 24 hours each day.

    If you can make a strong case that they are confined to your yard then they aren't free ranging, they are just getting out of the coop. No different than sending the kids out to play.

    Besides all of that, he has to find a jobsworth to enforce the law anyway. Maybe he can't.

    Build the privacy fence anyway and good luck.
  7. ChickenBiffer

    ChickenBiffer Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 30, 2015
    I appreciate these ideas... I actually went to law school (passed the bar, never practiced) and so I hear what people are saying about rules are rules. Still, I'm thinking this is going to be more about how people in my town choose to apply the law, I'm hoping for common sense to rule the day. What really pisses me off about him taking a picture of my chicken out 'free' on the lawn is that it does not reflect the whole truth: I'm sitting right here, the chickens are within my sight and I get up to chase them back if they stray too far away. There are no fences here and on the other side of me, that neighbor is actually HAPPY for my chickens to come over and eat bugs off her lawn. She's offered to explain that if it would help.
    My husband wondered if Jerky Neighbor saw me sitting here as he took the picture and I felt sure he did, but now I wonder-- is he going to call someone and pose the fiction that "the chickens were out and no one was watching them" or is his grand complaint "the chickens were out and that's against the rules"? It's just so dang weird. I don't know what kind of response he's likely to get from anyone he tries to report me to-- as soon as he says "the chickens were out roaming" isn't the next question, "Where were they?" It's just the stupidest thing...
  8. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 16, 2015
    Desert Hills, AZ
    Just curious, but how well do you know the guy? If you don't know him that well I'd wait till the next time you're out with your girls, and if he shows his face I'd ask him if anything is wrong, from your side of the fence of course. Be nice about it and if he gets aggravated just continue to be nice and go about your business. If you know him fairly well I'd knock on his door and ask him. If you don't get the chance and he has a problem with it you'll know soon enough. In any event you'll find out if he has an issue. There's probably a pretty good chance nothing will come of it as long as your birds don't land on his lawn. Just to be on the safe side I'd probably build a run to put them in so you don't have to worry about it going forward.
  9. bluto in mo

    bluto in mo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 26, 2015
    Plant bushes instead of a fence. Blueberry, gooseberry, blackberry. Or just a hedge row. Cheaper and will produce something good for you and the birds.
  10. ChickenBiffer

    ChickenBiffer Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 30, 2015
    I know him well. He is a control freak who tried to prevent me from having chickens in the first place because (quote) "How do I know you know anything about animal husbandry?" and "You should have talked to me first." He is the guy who has to hire someone to screw in a lightbulb for him (i.e. he knows NOTHING about "animal husbandry" or anything else) and for the last ten years he has seethed with envy over every home project my husband and I have been able to DIY. That's who he is, so basically it drives him nuts that we've got this cool thing happening in our backyard that everyone thinks is cool and prompts compliments from everyone who sees it (our setup is really lovely-- the coop and small run resemble a house with attached gazebo). Yeah, this is not a matter of reasoning with him, it's a matter of hoping that no one would see things his way.

    I am definitely shopping for a shrubbery/plant barrier for this summer for sure, it's just a matter of figuring out what will grow best/fastest in that gap. It creeps me out that he has nothing better to do than stand in his backyard taking pictures of mine.

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