Published on May 16th, 2014 | by Julie Finn1
Michigan Hates Chickens (and Bees, and Goats): No More “Right to Farm”
Do you keep backyard chickens? Or have a beehive? Or own a couple of very spoiled goats/lawnmowers?
Yeah, Michigan hates you.
Michigan, whose “Right to Farm” act used to be the envy of all the other backyard chicken owners/urban beekeepers/goat hobbyists in all the other states, is now the state that nobody interested in micro-husbandry or self-sufficiency or small animal farming would want to move to. For 33 years, the Right to Farm act gave Michigan homeowners authority over their own property, and the benefit of the doubt about what they wanted to do with it. If they wanted to put a quarter-acre of green lawn in their backyard, then fine. If they wanted to keep eight chickens back there and ensure a supply of healthy, organic, free-range fresh eggs, then that was also fine.
Today, however, that homeowner now has to measure the distance between their coop and the neighbor’s house–if it’s less than 250 feet, then their chickens have to go. If that homeowner’s neighbor is a jerk and complains about the chickens, even if he’s lying in his complaint because he’s a jerk (full disclosure: my neighbor does this, but it’s cool because Animal Control is well aware that he’s a crackpot), then today that homeowner is now stuck defending chickens that they may no longer have the “right” to have on their own property.
So here’s my bias: I happen to think–actually, I happen to FIRMLY BELIEVE–that you should let people pretty much do whatever they want to do on their own property, as long as it’s not actually bothering you on your property (and no, Wacky Neighbor of Mine, the simple knowledge that two chickens exist over here doesn’t actually bother you on your property!). I also, as a backyard chicken keeper, myself, happen to know that chickens on my property don’t actually bother you on yours. They don’t smell. They don’t bark. I don’t take them on walks, let them poop on your lawn, and then “forget” to scoop up after them.
You don’t like the idea of fresh eggs every day, laid by chickens that you love and care for? You don’t like to serve your kids soft-boiled eggs for breakfast from eggs that were still warm from the chicken’s butt when the kids collected them? Fine, don’t have chickens. But it’s a little much to tell your neighbors that they can’t perform the very basics of self-sustainability on their own property, either. We all just have to buy our eggs from the factory farmers at the grocery store? Yeah… no.