the urban chicken arms race: ann arbor vs. ypsilanti

For those of you following the big local chicken debate we’ve been having here on the site these past several months, it looks as though things are building toward some kind of epic climax. I’ve just received word from local farming rights provocateur Peter Thomason that he got a citation in the mail today, ordering him to appear in court within 10 days regarding his flock of chickens and herd of tiny goats.

In other local chicken-having news, according to Amanda Edmonds, who was watching last night’s Ann Arbor City Coucil meeting on television, our more prosperous neighbors to the west passed their local chicken ordinance. According to her, there was an attempt on the part of some to strike the “all your neighbors have to sign off” clause, but it didn’t happen. It goes into effect in 60 days, and Council said that they’d revisit it after one year to assess whether or not it’s worked. The provision would allow residents to keep up to four hens in their backyards. (One wonders if people without backyards might be able to use frontyards.)

The “Ann Arbor News” coverage can be found here here, but it doesn’t answer all of my questions. Specificially I’m interested in knowing whether or not they ended up including the prohibition against slaughter. If so, I need to get back to work on my Ypsilanti drive-thru slaughterhouse business plan.

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  1. Thoreau
    Posted June 3, 2008 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    I am going into the Red Fox Hat business. And am looking for investors.

  2. Black Jake
    Posted June 3, 2008 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    If Ann Arbor out-chickens us, I am going to ball up my fists, raise my arms, screw up my face, get red, and tremble slightly.

  3. egpenet
    Posted June 3, 2008 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Rather than a drive-thru, I think a couple of us could be on call with sharp knives to make coopcalls (housecalls) to dispatch chickens for a fee. 1/2 dozen eggs per bird, say.

  4. Thoreau
    Posted June 3, 2008 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Mary had a little lamb,
    Her father shot it dead.
    Now it goes to school with her,
    Between two hunks of bread.

  5. frenchfries
    Posted June 3, 2008 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    bok……bok……bok, bok, BOK, BOK!!!!!…………bok….

    I just climaxed.

  6. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 4, 2008 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I heard that Thomason has been crossbreeding chickens with household pets to try to find a way around the restrictions and that’s what the citation is for.

  7. Brackache
    Posted June 4, 2008 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I thought those Cadbury Eggs tasted kinda funny.

  8. Paw
    Posted June 4, 2008 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Two words.
    Actually three.

    Chicken Liberation Front.

    Be patient my feathered brothers. Help is on the way.

  9. Andy C
    Posted June 4, 2008 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Is killing the issue in A2 or the cleaning? Maybe they can follow the lead of KFC in Canada.

  10. Reclusion
    Posted June 4, 2008 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    We make no pretense of rehabilitation. We are not Preists, we are processors.

  11. amanda
    Posted June 4, 2008 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    someone’s on top of it–

  12. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 4, 2008 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Amanda, that’s quaint in a swiss chalet sort of way, but I much prefer the foxproof and “stylish addition to any backyard” option.

    (Available for the price of a mere 250 dozen eggs.)

  13. Kristen Cuhran
    Posted June 5, 2008 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    I too love the eglu’s but they seem shamelessly too small for four hens. Glad to see they are in the US now though (previously I thought I’d have to ship it from england!!).

  14. Reclusion
    Posted June 5, 2008 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    The coops made in Japan or anywhere but here are far superior in every way. Their chicken protecting techkno is vastly ahead of anything anyone here could make on thier own.

    You’ll get many more years-per-egg and less breakdowns.

  15. Andy
    Posted June 6, 2008 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    New Slate article on the urban chicken movement:

  16. Brackache
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 11:26 am | Permalink


  17. Brackache
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    To sum up, Peter lost the court case and there’s going to be a city council meeting Feb 17th (I believe) to discuss legalizing urban chickens, goats, and bees. There is also an online survey you can fill out regarding your feelings on the issue that I think Growing Hope put out.

  18. Mark
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the update, Brack.

  19. Brackache
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 1:11 pm | Permalink


    Here is the link to the survey spreadsheet thingy.

    Not quite sure how to fill out the box about it being a fundamental right. Is there a question there? Should I just type “shit yeah” in the box?

  20. Posted February 8, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I just put a new post up on the front page.

  21. Posted February 8, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I can’t see why it’s a fundamental right. Do I have a fundamental right to set up a swine farm? A nuclear power plant?

    I support raising chickens, gardening and goats, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a fundamental right.

  22. Posted February 8, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Peter was arguing that the Michigan Right to Farm Act allowed him to operate a micro-farm within the City limits, in violation of local code. If you scroll through the archives, you’ll see quite a few threads on this in which Peter contributed a great deal. If you have the time, go back and check them out.

    I like urban chickens. It is, however, a slippery slope. Hog slaughtering isn’t necessarily something that I want taking place next door. (I want that in the Township.)

  23. Posted February 8, 2009 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Seems like an imposition on the localities, who ideally should have the right to decide who can farm and who can’t.

    Still, it’s not a fundamental right. The Mich Right to Farm Act merely aims to protect farms from certain types of lawsuits and doesn’t appear to be an amendment to the Bill of Rights.

    “Fundamental Right” goes a little far.

  24. Brackache
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    dude, the 9th Ammendment clearly states that just because some rights were enumerated in the bill of rights doesn’t mean those are all the rights we have. I’d say common sense dictates that every human being has a fundamental right to provide food for his or herself and family. The rights to relieve oneself of bodily wastes or to have sex with one’s spouse are also not enumerated, but are pretty damn obviously rights. The trick is in exercising them in ways that don’t violate other people’s rights. That’s pretty much the foundation of anglo-american jurisprudence right there.

  25. Posted February 8, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Preach it brotha.

  26. Posted February 8, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    “The trick is in exercising them in ways that don’t violate other people’s rights. ”

    Procuring food is a right, which can include growing it where possible or being able to access a grocery store. Having a pig farm in the middle of Ypsilanti is not. Having a farm which leeches pesticides into the water supply is not a right. Not cleaning out your septic tank is also not cool, although one has a right to shit.

    Actually, taking dumps in your front yard is ultra-uncool although by your logic everyone should have the right to do it.

    I’m into chickens, but the way this Right to Farm Act is being taken is total bullshit.

  27. Brackache
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    That sentence of mine you quoted is the response for the rest of your comment. Can’t you read??? Polluting other people’s health and property is a violation of their rights.

  28. Posted February 8, 2009 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    It could be argued that hogs do nothing to harm people’s property or health. Taking a dump in a bucket in your front yard sure doesn’t. It’s just a pain in the ass. Yet, you have this assumption that people have certain rights to do what the fuck they want and this isn’t the case.

    The locality decides whether it wants farming within it’s borders, yet here you advocate a big government approach where there are sweeping mandates from Lansing that take that away.

    Brackache, you blabber on and on about big government mandates and taxes and other bullshit, yet here you are, supporting big government mandates.

  29. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Well, that was entirely irrational. I’m not talking about the Right to Farm act, I’m talking about natural rights that exist independant of government. Natural rights which, again, form the basis of the philosophy on which our entire legal system depends. It’s basic civics.

  30. Posted February 8, 2009 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    No one can start farms in an urban area if the community decides through it’s elected officials that farms are not wanted.

    People can get a job and buy food at the grocery store or move out of the city. That’s basic civics.

  31. jean
    Posted February 9, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    So bacon party is good; hog slaughter bad? In many, many countries butchering the pig is a community event. It’s also a lot of work requiring many hands and producing a bountiful harvest. Butchering used to be skilled, well-paid labor. Farm animals get treated more and more inhumanely, while pet animals get manicures and little outfits. We have got to get a little more real and a lot less precious about our food and our animals.

    A decent meat processing facility is one of the missing links in our local food system. In my mind, it would be a great business for Ypsi. or Ann Arbor. Why the simple act of raising food for one’s own consumption ends up getting legislated is beyond me. Has institutional intrusion on food supply made it better or safer? Just build your coops. Plenty of people in A2 had them before we went and made a political issue out of it. There was a chicken in a kindergarten classroom within the city for years. Why are we asking for permission? If problems crop up you deal with them through existing laws; You can’t pollute or otherwise damage the neighbor’s property, never could. Anticipating non-existent problems creates the kind of burdensome bureaucracy A2 imposed on the chicken issue. I don’t mean to go all libertarian. I love me some big government just not in my bedroom or in my food.

  32. Paw
    Posted February 9, 2009 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think the issue was with a farmer killing a hog or two, Jean. I think he was referring to the activities of an industrial hog rendering plant.

    But I will agree with you that the nexus of Government, Bedroom, and Food is pure evil.

  33. Daniel
    Posted February 9, 2009 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Pete had his day in court and lost. This so called “urban micro farm” is more or less the result of a Pete having a tantrum because he was told “NO” in the first place.

    I would support a regulation similiar to that of Ann Arbor – limit the number and get neighbor approval. This seems to be a reasonable middle ground.

  34. Daniel
    Posted February 9, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    P.S. “Dude” – I like your thinking – let me buy you a beer sometime.

  35. Posted February 9, 2009 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    According to Facebook, it’s Peter Thomason’s birthday today. Happy birthday, Peter! Hope the court case loss doesn’t ruin it.

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