Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Sequoias in August, Part Two

After getting our fill of the cave, we walked up the river for a short while. We came to the swimming hole, but there were other people there, so we just waded around for a while. It's almost as much fun as swimming!

Vic really was enjoying himself, despite his glum appearance in this picture. He didn't wade, but perched himself up on this boulder to take in the scenery and breathe the fresh air.

The younger Lambies made all sorts of castles out of the rich, silty mud in the river.

What a man! Thanks, Honey, for taking us to the forest! I sure do like it up there with everyone!

And, oh!, the BBQ dinner really tasted good after all that climbing around! I'm sure glad God turned it into a salad on the way down. ;)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Sequoias in August, Part One

We went to the Sequoias for a daytrip last weekend. That's one of the best ways I can think of spending a day! We began the day in "our" cave. The water is pretty low this time of year, so we could get WAY in and explore places we can't other times of the year. We spied a young, 2 ft. long rattlesnake as we approached. He slithered off under a rock. I tried to get a picture of him, but he eluded my lens. We showed the Lambies his hiding place; some saw his tail before he pulled it in all the way. That area was off limits, just in case he decided to come out and play rather than hide away.

Fourteen year old EmBlem in the main cave. That 'roof rock' is indescribably enormous. Inside the cave are several boulders that were shattered when the big one came down. It's really incredible!

Jack, Polly, Trixie and Missy all enjoying the coolness of the cave.

Jack REALLY enjoying the coolness of the cave!

Troubles and Missy showing off Troubles' brand new backpack. He carried his own water, snacks and flashlight, as did all the other Lambies.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dulaman and The Voice

We just love listening to this group. They are just about the ONLY female group I like. Usually I find womens' voices grating, unless mellowed by a man's. Isn't it strange that I like these high-pitched tones?

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Meme

Ginger tagged me for this fun, little meme. Play along, if you'd like!

1. What do you normally smell like? plain old me. I don't wear any scents.

2. How far away do you live from your parents? about 16 hours

3. Are you happy with your job? Extraordinarily happy

4. What did you get in the mail today? A statement, a security key and a piece of junk mail

5. How do you like your steak cooked? grilled by my husband

6. What do you usually order at Taco Bell? I don't eat at Taco Bell

7. Have you ever sat all the way through Gone With the Wind? No, but I have read it. It's good!

8. Have you ever been to Mt Rushmore? No

9. Where is your favorite place (that you have actually been to)? The beautiful Sequoia mountians

10. What is your favorite candle scent? I don't burn any candles.

11. Have you ever smoked cigarettes? Sadly, yes, but the Lord set me free over twenty years ago!

12. Have you ever been to NYC or LA? I've been to Disneyland once.

13. Are you currently planning a trip? Yes, a day trip or two into the cooler weather.

14. Do you prefer to pack your own groceries? I don't know. The Lambies always pack them.

15. What is your favorite snack? Crunch and Munch

I tag Mother Of Blessings, EmBlem, Girl of God and Trixie

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Meeting

So, a fuller story for those who are following my chicken drama. On Friday I was visited by code enforcement officers, telling me that chickens are against code in our city. They gave me a notice that I had 72 hours to move them out of city limits. We complied, but Monday, I was on the phone. I called each of our towns five city councilmen, who were listed on the city's website. I was given the numbers from a clerk who answered at the city's number. I was able to share our story with each of them in a very laidback manner and ask for help and counsel. All were supportive and some were even surprised that they were excluded by our city codes. I was asked to speak at the next council meeting....the next evening.

With little time to prepare, I went to Backyard Chickens and some other sites for help. BYC has an excellent forum, including a place to discuss City Codes and Ordinances and How to Change Them. So much great information gathered in one place!! I read and read and read and read. I PM'ed and e-mailed and consulted. I cut and pasted and wrote. Finally I had a speech that I could say in three minutes.

We went to the brand new library and city council chambers at about 6:15. We browsed around in the children's room and visited with Miss Heidi, the Children's Librarian. At 6:50, we entered the chambers. I filled out my yellow Citizen's Request card that signaled my intention to speak and gave it to the clerk. The names of the council members were in front of their seats, and I realized that I, thinking he was one of the councilmen, had also called and spoken directly to the mayor of our city the day before.

The meeting was called to order at 7 PM and everyone stood to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. After that, a prayer was offered, using the name of Jesus Christ and asking His blessing over our city and for wisdom for the men and women making decisions. How wonderfully surprising!

Then then Mayor got down to business and called ME! FIRST! Oh, my heart began beating SO fast! I walked to the front and began. There was a timer counting down with accompanying green, yellow and red lights. I heard my voice reading the speech and sounding too shaky. My legs even began trembling! I concluded in the right amount of time and thanked the council for considering our request. I returned to my seat and felt my face flush! I had to fold my papers and fan myself for a few minutes.

Then there was some discussion between the councilmen. All seemed to be in favor of allowing hens in the city limits. One councilman said he thought it was a great thing in this economy, backyard victory gardens and all that offered the idea that since they already specifically allow 2 cats and 3 dogs, perhaps they could change the code to read 5 "animal units". They thanked us for coming and promised to continue working toward a code change.

We listened to the rest of the meeting, some of which was interesting, some of which didn't make much sense to me. Troubles feel asleep on Daddy's lap. The meeting wrapped up just after 8 PM. We stood, stretched and began shaking hands with folks that came up to us. The Mayor and the Vice Mayor came over and greeted us. The Vice Mayor asked for some additional information. A woman from one of our local newspapers asked me to send her the text of my speech and took our names and number for a story.

I apologized to the Lambies for not having more sympathy for them when they did their homeschool presentations. I participated in plays and speech tournaments throughout high school, but don't remember ever feeling nervous like I did before the council! We took the kids out for a treat afterward, to celebrate stepping out of our comfort zone.

I have the additional information ready and am awaiting an appointment to speak with the Vice Mayor and/or the City Manager this week. The next city council meeting is on Aug. 31 Sept. 7th. It could be that we get a decision then! I'll keep you updated.

Text of my Speech

Here's the speech I prepared for the city council meeting. I will blog more about the meeting in a little while. I edited where needed to keep my anonymity.

Honorable Councilmen,

I am here to ask for changes to the City of *****’s Allowable Animal Code. According to the code enforcement officers I have spoken with, by not mentioning any animal by name except cats and dogs, it PROHIBITS all animals, even guppies, parakeets, hamsters, hens and any other common pet. I am asking for a phrase to be added to the code allowing hens in the backyards of the urban areas in the City.

In the last few years, as the Green Living lifestyle has gained popularity, cities and towns all over America have been relaxing their chicken laws. Heritage breed chickens are calm, docile and affectionate pets. Kept as pets, and cleaned regularly, backyard chickens don't smell. They make much less noise than many dogs. They do not damage fences or escape and bite neighbors.

I believe that any health risk posed by allowing backyard chickens is minimal and can be controlled by good husbandry. This means that their housing, feed, water and manure are maintained regularly. The improper keeping of dogs and cats can be a much greater risk to public health than the keeping of chickens. Dogs and cats are both prime vectors for rabies, and cat poop often contains a disease that can be very dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn babies, yet they are allowable animals.

There are two areas of caution in keeping hens to avoid nuisance complaints from neighbors. The most salient of these concerns is the possession of roosters which should be prohibited due to inevitable noise complaints. Also, roosters are often bred and raised for fighting. This is cruel and should be explicitly disallowed in the city code. Those who would participate in cock fighting aren’t likely to obey rules, regardless. Codes that forbid hens for pets to prevent cock fighting only hurt those who wish to obey the law while enjoying their pets.

The second area of concern is manure management. Flies and odor are already common enough. Hens do not contribute to this problem. The manure that a hen deposits on the ground doesn’t smell, it quickly dries, is broken up and disappears into the soil, nourishing it and improving the soils condition. Any manure collected in the coop is easily composted and is valuable for use in home gardens.

As a family and school project, we raised ten chicks. They were but day old when we got them. The children learned so much during that time! Most know each hen by name.

The children helped in all aspects of caring for them, including the carpentry and construction of the coop, cleaning, feeding, watering and taming the hens. They finally reached the laying age of 5-6 months and began producing eggs. In the five weeks that they laid for us, we collected 74 eggs. The children kept track of who was laying and how often. They could usually tell who laid which egg just by the color or time it was laid.

In the time we enjoyed our hens, we noticed a decrease in the number of flies in our home. This is explained by the hens themselves. We observed them eating flies, ants and other insects on many occasions. They also feasted on slugs and snails and we actually looked forward to finding inchworms and tomato hornworms in our garden; the hens loved them dearly. All our produce scraps went to the hens rather than into the trash. Our already small amount of weekly garbage was reduced even more. They are very much missed in our backyard.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these changes to our city’s animal regulations. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Mommaofmany (phone number)

California Chicken Laws

In case someone else needs to benefit from the research I have been gathering, here is a list of different codes and laws regarding backyard chickens in California. I put *'s by the ones I like the best and hope to get our ordinance worded in a similar fashion.

California Chicken Laws:

Albany, CA. Allows residents to keep up to 6 hens (no roosters) in their backyard with a permit.

American Canyon, CA. Must keep your chicken coop in the back yard, and 50 ft. away from other houses or dwellings where people reside.

Anaheim, CA. * I found two different versions of code for this city. One: any number of hens allowed with a permit. Two: can keep 3 chickens on a 5,000 sq.ft. lot, 6 chickens on a 10,000 sq.ft. lot.

*Bakersfield, CA. Municipal code 6.08.010: Any chickens must be "kept securely enclosed in a yard or pen at all times."

*Belmont, CA: Up to 20 hens (no roosters over 4 months old) confined in a clean coop.

*Berkely, CA. Chickens must be kept penned and 30 ft. away from any bedrooms.

Campbell, CA. Not more than six animals in all, including hares, rabbits, guinea pigs, feline, bovine, sheep, goat, chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, doves, pigeons, game birds, or other fowl or any combination thereof.

Chula Vista, CA: Up to 12 chickens are permitted on a minimum of 7,000 square feet of land, up to 25, on land where one family occupies one home. An enclosure is required, but must be no closer than 50 feet from neighboring homes.

Davis, CA. A total of not more than six chicken hens and you have to keep them penned no less than 40 ft. from neighboring houses.

Del Mar, CA: No ordinance regarding raising chickens. City officials refer to county codes, if necessary.

Downey, CA. Up to five chickens allowed per lot.

El Cajon, CA. Allows up to 24 adult poultry on lots over 20,000 sq ft in residential zones.

*Encinitas, CA: Up to 10 chickens are permitted in all residential areas. More allowed on larger lots. Coops must be no closer than 35 feet of neighboring homes.

Folsom, CA. Not more than any combination of two chickens, ducks, pigeons and rabbits shall be kept within any zoning district of the city other than agricultural or agricultural combining districts; and said animals shall be kept or maintained at least twenty feet from any property line.

Imperial Beach, CA. The municipal code says no, but a feed store estimates around 500 chickens are kept as pets.

Irvine, CA. Two chickens max. allowed, kept in a sanitary, odor free enclosure. No roosters are allowed.

Lemon Grove, CA: Up to three chickens are permitted, in enclosures, in certain residential areas. One chicken per 1,000 square feet, up to 25 are permitted in other residential areas. Coops must be no closer than 20 feet from neighboring homes.

Lakewood, CA. It appears Lakewood says residents can have up to 5 female fowl.

La Puente, CA. Up to 20 chickens allowed for each ten thousand sq. feet of lot area in residential zones.

Lafayette, CA. Residents can keep approximately 4 chickens.

Long Beach CA. The law is 1 chicken with a 20 feet setback restriction. Twenty chickens are allowed with a 50 feet setback restriction from single and two-family dwellings, and a 100 feet setback restriction from hotels or multiple (3+) family dwellings. This is virtually impossible in a city like Long Beach.

*Los Angeles, CA. Number of chickens you can keep is unlimited. Chickens may not be within 20 feet of owner's residence, and must be at least 35 feet from any other dwelling.

Los Altos, CA. 1 hen per 1,000 square feet of lot space. No restrictions on coop location. No roosters.

Mission Viejo, CA. You are allowed up to two chickens, and roosters are not allowed. But city code 9.59.115-1 says no chickens allowed.

Mountain View, CA. Up to 4 hens without a permit. Keep 25 ft. from residences. Within 25 ft. is o.k. with written consent from residences. No roosters.

*Oakland, CA. Keep chicken enclosed, & 20 ft. from any dwelling, church or school.

Oceanside, CA: Up to six chickens are permitted in residential areas, but they must be 35 feet from neighboring houses.

Petaluma, CA. Up to twenty animals of mixed combination. Chickens must be kept five feet from a neighbor’s fence or property line, and they must be kept 20 ft. from neighboring dwellings.

Poway, CA. If your property is at least a 6,000 sq.ft. lot, you can keep up to six hens. Must keep chickens 35 feet from neighbors. Don’t have your chicken house in any of the set-backs.

Redwood City, CA. Maximum of 3 chickens permitted; roosters were recently outlawed.

Roseville, CA. Maximum 10 chickens kept 20 ft. from any property line &/or building. They don't delineate hens or roosters.

Santa Rosa, CA. Livestock is not permitted here, unless your area is zoned *rural.* May have 25 chickens per 20,000 square feet. No chickens in residential areas zoned R1, R2 or PRC. People keep chickens in this town; just that it is technically illegal to do so.

Sacramento, CA. Except for a few areas specifically spelled out in code, keeping chickens is not allowed in Sacramento.

Sacramento County, CA. As long as your yard is 10,000 square feet or more, you can keep chickens.

San Carlos, CA. Can keep a total number of four (4) poultry.

San Jose, CA. 1-4 chickens must be kept 15 feet from neighboring structures. 4-6 chickens must be kept 20 feet away. A permit is required if you keep more than 6 chickens. In any area zoned *residential,* only hens are permitted; no roosters.

San Diego, CA. Currently undergoing debates in the city council, trying to get chickens to be legal in this city.

San Francisco, CA. Up to four chickens allowed. Up to four small animals total. Keep 20 feet from doors or windows in a coop or enclosure of approved type.

San Jose, CA: Up to 6 chickens at least 20 ft. from residences. Up to 4 chickens 15 ft. away from residences. 0 less than 15 ft. No roosters.

San Leandro, CA. No livestock of any kind shall be keep within the
city limits. But people are currently and actively working on a civic project to get the law reworded to allow chickens and bee-keeping, so hop on board with them.

San Mateo, CA. Keeping chickens requires a permit here. Up to 10 hens per household. Chickens must be kept in an appropriate pen/coop.

Temple City, CA. Basically it allows two hens per property, but no roosters.

*Vallejo, CA. You are allowed to keep up to 25 chickens if they are kept 15 ft. from neighboring dwellings. Roosters are allowed but subject to noise nuisance violations.

*Woodland, CA. It is OK to keep up to 6 hens provided they are kept over 40 ft. from neighboring residences.

Vista, CA: Two chickens are permitted in certain single-family residential areas, and up to 25 in other areas.

Sources: (also summarizes laws in other states) I found a similar list in the forum at that had a few cities that were not in the first so I added them.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It's Over.....For Now

What a bad couple of days it's been. :sigh: My neighbors complained to the city about our pet hens. These are the bad neighbors to the west. The ones that cause me to have to call my Lambies inside at times, so they won't get a contact high. I have called the police on them before for the pot smoke haze that descends on us. They must have dragged themselves outside. They called code enforcement.

I had searched our city codes carefully for chicken laws. There are none. I had called the city for verbal permission. I obtained it. The code officer said I must have called the county rather then the city. He explained the code is "in the negative". Here it is, in total:

§ 6.16.015 Allowable animals.

The keeping of animals at each residence/ dwelling within the city limits shall not exceed two cats and three dogs over ten weeks of age.

(Ord. 08-02, passed 2-19-2008)

So every hamster, parakeet, lizard, turtle, goldfish and hen in our town is illegal, according to him. :sigh: What kind of America is this?? My idiot neighbors can have a dog that yips at me the whole time I am out in my own backyard and there's nothing they can do about it....because a dog is an allowable animal. My quiet little, productive hens are illegal. AARGH!

I will be going to the city council and asking for a line to be added to the code allowing backyard chickens. I am not all that hopeful that it will go well, but all you can do is ask, right? My hens are at my friend Tammy's house, with her flock. We will get our eggs from her. They will be fine, but I miss them and the Lambies are so sad. I am unbelievably frustrated. Pray for me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Good News Club

I blogged a few weeks ago about the Good News Club that my 11 and under set attended this summer. I have finally uploaded the pictures that I took. Most have other children in them, so I won't post them here. I didn't think to ask their parents for permission!

One day Troubles was asked to assist in the Memory Verse portion of the lesson. He still talks about being chosen and how he knew the verse already because it was *his* verse from school. He's memorizing The Romans Road and this is the third step.

I am so grateful that my friend Jenni hosted The Good News Club. My Lambies got so much out of it.

The Great Bella

We recently had a Great Dane named Bella visit us. She loved sitting on the couch!
She made all the Lambies laugh when she sat like this. Some of them even rode on her!

Thanks, K. Family, for coming over for dinner and fellowship!