Our apologies for taking so long to make this follow-up post. We are so grateful for all of the supportive comments we received in response to our chicken dilemma. We did not respond to most of them individually because we were embroiled in the rapidly evolving events, but we read and appreciated them all.
Since our last post, we have relocated the hens. We were fortunate to be able to bring them to a lovely new chicken yard and coop where they will be well cared for and their personalities and eggs enjoyed.
In answer to several comments, and to the thoughts that may be leaping into folks’ heads as they read, we were not forced to get rid of the chickens. And there was no legal basis for anyone forcing us to get rid of them. We were well within all applicable laws and ordinances. We elected to relocate our birds as a way to defuse an increasingly charged situation.
In addition to the complaints mentioned in our last post, on the following Friday, we received another incredibly long letter from our neighbor, wherein he made a number of unpleasant characterizations upon our motives and persons, and ended by threatening legal action for things he has read on, or via, this blog. On the heels of receiving and reading this letter, we saw a police car drive up. The officer visited next door, then came to our house to talk to us about his presence, which he said was due to concerns our neighbors had, apparently as a result of things they felt were threatening, written here or elsewhere in the blogosphere. The officer did not indicate that we were in violation of any laws. He came over to see what our story was, and see if there was anything that could be done to calm things down. We then received, in the mail, another anonymous form letter about the noise the chickens were making.
From a distance, the day has an almost laughable absurdity, one that would be difficult to believe in a work of fiction. But there you are. Or, there we were, and we were not laughing.
At this point, we felt we had to change something to take the pressure off ourselves. It was the best decision we could make in a bad situation.
Some time has passed. Our chickens are reportedly quite happy in their new home. We recently received some photos
and a report that they are happily bossing around some younger pullets who live in their new home. Oh, the stories they could tell.
We have also had an opportunity to talk to a number of other neighborhood residents who were sorry to hear that we’d gotten rid of our chickens, and who had no idea that they were bothering anyone. We were really pleased to know that the dissatisfaction expressed by a few was by no means universal. On the one hand, we wish we’d known how many people were positively interested in the chickens before we’d relocated them. On the other, we think that de-escalation was the best thing to do at the time. We will have birds again, here or elsewhere, sooner or later.
So, as they say on South Park, we learned something today. Many somethings, some hard, but others really strengthening. We have learned so much from the thoughts and ideas of our family, friends, readers, and fellow explorers. We have also had a lot to think about regarding this blog. What is Hen Waller without the hens? (For a couple days there, Holly considered re-naming it Self-Pity Waller, but fortunately that emotion and impulse have passed!) What does it mean that a neighbor has read/is reading our blog? We know there are people who read Hen Waller who disagree with us, but this is, literally, pretty close to home. These are issues that we’ll think about going forward. But in the end, we started Letter from Hen Waller because of our interests in home food production, preservation, and local foodways, and for the chance to ponder questions of sustainability and resource usage. These topics do not start or end with backyard chickens. So, on we go.
We are so thankful to everyone who offered words of support, and to the neighbors and Portlanders-at-large who support and encourage our efforts. May your gardens be green, and your hens be healthy.