Duncan chicken bylaw seems properly hatched

There is something comforting about the thought of chicken coops dotted throughout the Duncan area, with chickens contentedly pluck, pluck, plucking their way through the day, with the occasional “screech,” which I have always associated with the laying of an egg.

We had chickens on our acreage in Cobble Hill a few years ago — brown ones, although I don’t know what breed they were.

We didn’t get them for their eggs; we were hoping to acclimatize one of our horses who insisted hens were demon lizard monsters from another planet and would get all puffed up and snorting with his eyes bugged out!

The acclimatizing effort seemed to have worked and we returned the chickens to their original home.

I didn’t really miss the little ladies, who had spent their afternoons gossiping among themselves as they scratched for bugs in and around the vegetable garden.

Freshly sprouted seedlings are apparently very tasty to chickens.

This led me to keeping a stash of little rocks on the sundeck to use to shoo the girls away.

Didn’t work for long as they always returned when they saw me go back into the house.

One day I fired a rock with surprising accuracy and bonged one of the hens square on the head. It dropped on the spot.

Boy, I thought, am I ever in trouble! What was I going to tell my wife?

Happily, the hen was only dazed; she got up grumbling and complaining to her lady friends about the idiot with the rocks.

If they were laying eggs, I had no idea where that was because we only provided a temporary shelter to keep them somewhat protected overnight.

They were going home soon enough, so elaborate fencing and coops didn’t seem justified.

With this limited experience I can see the sense of the rather detailed rules Duncan’s new chicken bylaw lays out.

A secure coop makes absolute sense because, as I understand it, rats will get in and steal the eggs if they get a chance.

More importantly, from a neighbour relations point of view, keeping those hens in your own backyard must also be deemed essential.

A hen picking and scratching for food can do a rather thorough job of weeding a flower bed, or vegetable garden, to the point of altering the design that the human owners had intended.

So, let’s see; the new rules require a secure coop and a secure run — both being somewhat costly to provide. And, you have to purchase feed, and keep the coop and run clean and free of smell.

Seems like a lot of work when we have so many small farms in the valley offering clean and organic eggs.

Maybe Duncan resident Alycejoy Blom was on to something when she insisted: “Support local farmers and pay $2.50 or $3 for a dozen eggs.”

Patrick Hrushowy is the president of the Cowichan Valley constiuency association of the B.C. Liberal Party. Email him at phrushowy@shaw.ca

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