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Dear Editor,

In another forum I’m involved in, we’ve been having a hot debate on “right to roam” laws or jurisdictions. This is mainly practiced overseas in the Scandinavian countries, parts of Europe, and now on a limited basis in the U.K. There are some people calling for the passing of such laws in the United States as well. What are your thoughts on this?

Private Landowner

 

Dear Landowner,

No questions on gardening? Nothing you need to know about chickens? Okay, just remember… you asked …

First of all, until we have significant tort reform in this country, you will not get private landowners on board for such land-use legislation. We have the biggest bunch of crybaby, unwilling-to-accept-responsibility, everyone-owes-me-something mentality of people in this country than ever before. When a woman can spill coffee on herself and get millions of dollars from McDonalds, there’s something wrong with the court system in this country. When honest mistakes are made (because we are fallible humans, not infallible gods) and we can lose our livelihoods, our lives, and everything else over those mistakes, something is wrong with our laws. When people can avoid the responsibility of taking care of their children and then sue manufacturers and private landowners when their child hurts themselves is not practicing justice as it was intended. We have a “deep pocket” theory of wealth confiscation in this country, and it’s to sue anyone with enough money (or insurance) and make it financially appealing to settle rather than to fight a costly court battle. That’s not justice—that’s extortion. Until those laws are changed, private landowners will fight tooth and nail over any encroachment into private property rights.

Secondly, the United States government already owns nearly 30 percent of the land in the United States. They own nearly 90 percent of the land in Nevada and 75 percent of the land in Alaska alone! Through the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can legally tell any landowner what to do with their land if so much as a mud hole exists on it. They use the term “navigable waters,” but it doesn’t mean what can be navigated now—it means if the stupid thing could ever be navigated in the history of the world! (And understand that there are no minimum requirements for something to be “navigable.” It basically means whatever the Corp wants it to mean.) The EPA comes in if you happen to have any swampy land that some spotted salamander might make its home in, and then you have state historical commissions that can confiscate land if so much as an Indian arrowhead is found on it. The government already has lien on private property that is above and beyond constitutional limits and now folks want to give it more? Not hardly. If you want countryside to walk in, buy your own countryside or utilize the federal lands already there.

Third and foremost, my husband and I are landowners. We pay property taxes every year for the privilege of living on our own land that we bought and paid for (which is a topic for a whole other discussion). We have sacrificed many of the things that we wanted in order to get the property we now live on. We didn’t buy the new car every year. We didn’t buy the fishing boat or the pontoon boat that we wanted. We didn’t take the kids to Disneyland on vacation every summer. We worked two and three jobs, saved our money, and bought the dream that meant the most to us. The people who want access to our land chose differently with their dreams, and now they find that their stuff isn’t quite as satisfying to them. Instead of admitting that they made their choices and must live with the consequences, now they want to demonize us because they chose poorly. It’s the whole “avoid responsibility at all costs” thing again.

In the past, my husband and I have given access to our property to people who have asked. We no longer do so. People have trashed our place, broken limbs out of fruit trees or killed them outright with their abuse, driven through pasture land and rutted up fields, and have been less than courteous when it comes to fishing out of our pond. We don’t want these people on our property. Accepting responsibility, courtesy for other people, respect for other people, and respect for the property of others is no longer a part of our society. These folks can call us stingy, curmudgeonly, hermits, or even odd—we no longer care. The fault isn’t with us; it’s staring back at them from a mirror. Until these attitudes change, we will continue to keep a lock on our gate and “No Trespassing” signs posted everywhere.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here. l really wish you had asked about chickens… 🙂

The Editor

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Dear Editor,

My city recently started allowing chickens within city limits, with limits on quantity. I’m rather excited about this. Where do I start though? Because I do live within limits there is not as much space as I would like, but any chickens are better than none. How should I decide on coop size? Is there a breed that is heartier than others? (I have a couple of dogs and I don’t want them to give these poor things a heart attack.) How much space should I allot each chicken so I know how many to get? Is there a best time of year to get chicks or chickens?

Excited in Illinois

 

Dear Excited,

Yay! A chicken question! I’m so glad your area decided to allow chickens in the city limits. Raising chickens is so satisfying and enjoyable. They’re truly remarkable animals.

First, here’s a simple formula to keep in mind in regard to space needs for your girls. One chicken needs approximately three to four square feet of space in the coop. If you plan on raising five chickens, your coop should be approximately 15 to 20 square feet.

Your chickens will also need outside space in order to get fresh air and room to roam about safely. Each chicken will need about four square feet of “peckin’” room, so for your five chickens, allow an additional 20 square feet of fenced in area for them to run around in.

As far as your dogs… any puppy raised with the chickens will probably be fine, although I might keep them away from any type of bird dog or hunting dog since these dogs are trained to chase down different animals. The problem you may get into trying to buy a breed of chicken that will be heartier around an existing dog in the home is that the ones with a temperament to protect themselves from dogs are also the ones with temperaments that will spur you in a minute (it’s the one reason I will never have Rhode Island Reds again. I know some of you will differ with me on this sentiment. Just remember, we’re all entitled to our opinion!) Instead, I would just keep the chickens away from the dog if there is a fear.

As far as breed… everyone has their favorite for various reasons. One chicken that is cold hardy and prolific at egg laying is the Buff Orpington, and happens to be one of my favorites. This hen is a gentle soul and is a wonderful mother. If you’re raising chickens for both meat and eggs, the Buff is a wonderful dual-purpose chicken.

In your area I would probably wait until spring to acquire some chickens. Spend the time preparing a space for them and learning all you can about them. Gail Damerow’s book Storey’s Guide to Raising Chicken’s is absolutely one of the best books on everything there is to know about chickens. She presents factual information in a down-to-earth format. Solutions From Science also has a plethora of great books on homesteading animals in their bookstore. This link will take you to products they have: https://www.solutionsfromscience.com/?s=chickens&x=0&y=0

Good luck on your chicken adventure!

The Editor

 

 

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