A Feather Brush With Drama

Those tales of petty revenge that Facebook always lures you with are becoming less attractive to me these days.

Probably because I’m seen the other side of it, at least from one person’s perspective. I think someone’s trying to get Facebook-level petty revenge on us, either for not giving them free eggs, or for some other slight.

Remember how I mentioned we’ve received multiple letters from the city about whether we have illegal roosters?

Well, it’s escalated quickly. Kind of.

Last Wednesday afternoon, there was a knock on the door. Animal Control, full bulletproof vest, uniform, heavy truck.

“Oh, hi!” I said. Because what else do you say when armed* Animal Control officers show up?

*She may or may not have been armed. It’s a blur.

I took her out back to show her our hens, chattering away ingratiatingly about how sorry I was to be a nuisance, that we were trying to figure out how to avoid being a nuisance, etc., because, what else was I going to say?

“We had an anonymous tip,” she said, ” and even it it wasn’t anonymous, I couldn’t disclose who made it.” Apparently someone said we had chickens with no water and not enough space.

“Oh, sure, no problem.”

I knew we had done nothing wrong. But I was nervous nonetheless. Probably because she had a gun.

Or maybe it was a walkie-talkie.

But it could have been a gun. She was definitely wearing a bullet-proof vest, which makes you wonder what sort of cases Animal Control has to deal with.

Now, our hens, while noisy sometimes, are never noisy any earlier than the local gardeners with leaf-blowers and lawn-mowers, and I’m assuming the calls and letters are coming from one such neighbor (or maybe our gardener, if I’m going to be paranoid).

But, if someone is complaining this frequently, this persistently, I was worried something was wrong and she would impound our hens, and I’d have to explain to Miss P after school why the hens were gone.

And, beyond that, we’re a nice quiet street in a nice quiet neighborhood of nice quiet homes retaining their value. I’m not the sort of person to get into some sort of Desperate Housewives drama over domestic chickens.

I feel clumsy as I walk her around to the side gate, and wonder if I’m talking too much. Criminals always talk too much, right?

Actually, the officer, whose name was Jennifer, was polite, courteous, and kind. And it took her about ten seconds to assess that the chickens had adequate space and were healthy and happy.

The chickens, of course, had chosen this day to, as they sometimes do, kick dirt into one of their water bowls and then knock it over. And the hanging water dispenser was empty at the moment.

But, fortunately, Jennifer could tell that there had been water. And as I refilled the water, she saw them kick it over. Again.

So we got an official Animal Services Notice that said:

  • Possible violation: chickens having no water + small cage
  • Corrective measure: filled water
  • Comments: “Filled water bucket. Cage is big enough. Chickens knock over water.”

So, basically, the complaint was sound and fury signifying nothing.

Three lessons here: 1) It’s probably time to invest in some additional hardware for the chicken run and coop to perhaps hang another water dispenser off the ground. 2) Just because someone calls to complain doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. 3) There’s someone around here who probably wants free eggs, but doesn’t know how to ask.

The question is, who would persistently call the city on us? The neighbors to the west of us, whose balcony has a partially-obstructed view of our yard and whom we’ve never really gotten to know, and for whom we have no contact information with which to offer them free eggs? The neighbors behind us, who might have been the culprits two summers ago when we called the city to report illegal and scary fireworks from the next street over and who might have blamed us for the call?

The emotionally healthy thing to do is to assume they have good intentions, a sincere concern for the chickens, but are too shy to talk to us directly and want to take advantage of the resources to report possible problems. If the call was anonymous, truly, Animal Control won’t be able to let them know that they gave the all-clear. But maybe, if they were watching, and saw Animal Control come by and leave quickly sans chickens, they’ll feel better.

But I can’t help feeling like it’s harassment for some unintentional slight or unexpressed grievance. It leaves a bad taste to know that someone has a problem with our chickens, and we don’t even know who they are to try to assuage their concerns. Any other chicken parents out there with advice from similar experiences?

All we can do, I guess, is persist with keeping the coop clean (especially in hot weather, when odors could possibly be a problem), and the hens watered and fed, and hopefully that will prevent noise disturbances or other concerns.

And maybe hope that we figure out why someone’s so upset before any faults on our end come home to roost.

Published by dmhallett101

Husband, father, writer, reader, mostly in that order. Staying sane by pretending to be creative by playing with (WordPress) blocks.

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