Monday, June 17, 2013

When Chickens Come Home to Roast

Tomorrow night, the Common Council will be voting on Hudson's chicken law, which would amend the city code to permit residents to keep no more than five hens--no roosters--in their backyards, as pets or for the production of eggs. 

As luck would have it, San Francisco-based author Matthew Wolpe is now in the Northeast promoting the book he co-authored, Reinventing the Chicken CoopThe book is a manual for building "designer" shelters for chickens. Earlier today, on WAMC, Pat Bradley talked with Wolpe about his book and about raising backyard chickens. Bradley's report, which includes a review of the state of urban chicken husbandry in the Capital District, can be heard by clicking here.

So far, of cities in the Capital District, only Troy allows backyard chickens. Two years ago, a law allowing backyard chickens in Albany was passed by the Common Council but vetoed by Mayor Jerry Jennings. It may be a while before we know if Hudson will join the urban chicken-raising elite. Even if the law is passed by the Common Council tomorrow night, it could still be vetoed by Mayor Hallenbeck.


  1. The impetus behind the chicken law (as it's come to be called) was food justice in a certified (by the FDA) "food desert" -- our fair city of Hudson. Not designer chickens or pet fowl.

    1. You might want to check this out, John:; along with actually listening to the broadcast I linked to.

  2. A nice, walk to, in town organic grocery and produce store would solve the desert problem better than backyard chickens. Seems to me mroe like a fun new age hobby - until people start dropping dead from bird flu.

  3. One day chicken the next day feathers...Area Navigators were peacefully assembling in North Bay, (with arms) to hunt and fish long before Henry Hudson arrived. Now the "environmental party" blocks access to water in our "food desert".

    1. What "environmental party" is blocking access to the water?

      There's only one "party" that wants total control over water access, and that's the city.

      The City of Hudson considers the environment a problem and a nuisance, which it will "organize" on your behalf.

      There is no "environmental party."

    2. Both Hallenbeck and Roberts (ran) are running on the Environmental Party. Truth be told they are "Crony consevationists" selling limited City waterfront access to the highest bidder.

    3. I beg your pardon then, Joe.

      If there's an "Environmental Party" and if those two are identifying themselves with it, I've got my work cut out for me skewering politicians this autumn.

      Like fish in a barrel ....

  4. the alley cats just can't wait........mmmm chicken for dinner tonight!
    And what are the Health Dept. guidelines?
    Could cows for milk be next?
    There isn't a grocery or produce shortage in Hudson.
    Shoprite, Pricechopper, Aldi's, Claverack Food Market, aka Filli's have "organic" foods plus the "other".
    Hudson does have 3 convenient stores & a food store on Warren between 3rd & 4th.
    Plus Farmer's Market.
    So basically the question is what is a person's opinion or choice of an acceptable place to shop for food.
    Then there's the question of why hasn't a food store come to Hudson?
    Could it be the price of rent, customer demographics, parking & loss prevention aka shoplifting?
    And what ever became of Filli's on Fifth?
    Maybe Gov. Cuomo & Mayor Hallenback could provide the 10 yr tax incentive to attract a Food Market to come to Hudson.

  5. There are plenty of food stores around, unless you don't own a car, then it's a hassle. Also if you are cooking dinner on a Sunday afternoon and you find you need a few items, some olive oil, a piece of garlic or some greens, there is no place to get it. I suppose it is a matter of planning and convenience. The convenience stores don't stock many useable items, white bread, no produce, plenty of beer and soda. It would not be a bad idea if some of the local suppliers who sell at the farmers market arranged to place items in the various bodegas, that would help solve the problem. As far as environment goes there is much to consider. The lots in Hudson are small and lined up one against the other. With my tiny backyard, I certainly would not want to be hemmed in by a bunch of chickens on either side, with the noise, smell and manure wafting over. I'd be tempted to get a pet fox. Would that be allowed?

    And before Henry Hudson and "area navigators" there were people already living here who were decimated by diseases generated in livestock. It was not an uninhabited wilderness. Bird flu is passed from chickens to humans when they live in close proximity. That's a consideration.

    And it also seems to me that the waterfront should be owned by the city for the benefit and use of the community at large, not owned by corporations who degrade and exploit it for their own profit, or by small private groups or clubs who hog it for their own personal enjoyment. The Hudson is one of the worlds great rivers, the waterfront should be available for the use and enjoyment of everyone.

    1. That's a nice sentiment, but "the city" designed a waterfront program which catered to the needs of the corporate landowners of the South Bay.

      Holcim (US) Inc. financed much (even most?) of the waterfront program's SEQRA-required environmental impact statement. The EIS is a giant waterfront planning document in itself.

      Holcim (US) Inc. also directed much of the planning on behalf of the SEQRA "Lead Agency" (the Common Council), which had no idea any planning for the EIS was being conducted until the planning was finished.

      So in all due respect it's easy to pronounce "that the waterfront should be owned by the city for the benefit and use of the community at large," but if the people are not "the city" then it might be more appropriate to begin by asking who is?

      Encomiums to "the city" sound upstanding and democratic, but they are dangerously misapplied in a place like Hudson. They run the risk of burying how Hudson really operates, adding even more confusion in the long-run and inadvertently perpetuating the disease.

      "The city" is a collection of hidden interests with little concern for residents, and this goes a long way to explaining why the waterfront program conducted by "the city" has fallen on hard times.

      People should be discussing this.

      How would others explain the LWRP's situation?

  6. The waterfront has historically been used by the stewards who can promote Navigation to the fullest (safest) extent possible. The City has new uses but none better than a community wharf.

    1. Oops, the city dock is monopolized by a private interest whose practice is in violation of several state and local laws.

      But oops again! The business owner, a resident of Greene County, is also a code enforcement officer in the City of Hudson.

      Because neither the HPD nor the District Attorney (the previous one anyway) would intervene, and because our representatives behave so utterly slavishly, residents have no recourse but to sue the city.

      (Hmm, notice that the problem is still "the city," but that the city is someone other than its taxpayers.)

  7. Its remarkable to watch what passes for rational discourse when the conversation turns to chickens. In a city nearly overrun with dogs & cats (I have two pets), we can't muster the intellectual honesty to see the keeping of 5 lb bird - with all its associated restrictions on gender, species, shelter, & number - as anything but A Threat!! A Scourge!! A VECTOR FOR AVIAN FLU!!

    You can have a 150 lb fanged beast, generally off-leash, barking & pooping all over our yards, parks, sidewalks & streets; but gosh darnit you're going to raise holy hell over a chicken in my back yard! You'll accept feral gangs of song bird slaughtering cats, but dammit its the chickens you just can't accept!

    You know what makes arrogance even more repugnant? When it reeks of exceptionalism.

  8. I agree there are way too many dogs and stray cats. The stray cats should be rounded up. It's almost comical how people will eat pig and cow flesh almost every day, pigs who have a higher intelligence and level of suffering equal to that of dogs or cats - and have no problem with murdering these beasts daily, but will freak out and get up in arms at the thought of rounding up a bunch of diseased feral cats. The poor cats, the damned pigs. All those cats carry toxoplasma gondii which can infect your brain and has no cure, as well as other parasites. Many cat owners are infected with it. Dogs could be restricted in size and numbers too and the cleaning up of the waste enforced. Much of the dog waste could be infected with roundworms and other parasites and that qualifies as hazardous waste. Once the worms get in the soil it's infectious for seven years. Dog control should be better enforced making sure dog owners have their dogs vaccinated and treated so they are free of parasitic worms. If dioxin was being sprayed up and down the alleys every day no one would allow that--but spreading infectious, parasitic feces up and down the alleys where kids play is OK. Animal control generally would do a lot to improve the environment for the humans in the city. Certain areas seem to be treated as defecation free zones.

  9. if only we could do something about all those way too many people ...