I love waking up to the music of roosters crowing in the valley behind my house on the ridge.
It reminds me of early mornings in Brownsville, Texas when I was a little girl. We used to go to Brownsville every summer to visit my grandmother. My cousins kept poultry in her back yard, and later, in the side lot.
But Mama Maria's house wasn't the only house in Brownsville with back yard chickens. I could hear roosters crowing all over town and probably from across the international bridge in Matamoros as well. Even back then, I wished we could have chickens at home in Oak Ridge.
And now, when enlightened cities everywhere are allowing back yard chickens, I wonder why Oak Ridge City Council is so resistant to permitting chickens within our city limits. Chickens are good for the environment. They're voracious insect eaters. We'd have far fewer mosquitoes, ticks and pesky garden bugs if we had a few chickens to gobble them up.
And wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to walk a few steps out the back door and gather truly fresh, free range eggs? Have you tasted REAL free range eggs lately? The yolks are bright orange and they taste SO delicious. Not anything like the tasteless pale yolked eggs those poor cooped up chickens produce for mass market consumption.
Even large cities like Knoxville and Nashville permit back yard chickens within their city limits now. Chickens are beautiful; the ultimate living garden ornaments (along with peacocks!) And I've seen some very charming chicken coops in Knoxville too. My friend who is an architect has a back yard chicken coop that might better be called a 'chicken palace.'
So, what makes Oak Ridge so adverse to chickens? Honestly, the only thing I can figure is snootiness. At the risk of ruffling a few feathers and as a native Oak Ridger who has lived here for most of her 61 years, I can say with some authority, and regret, that Oak Ridge has always been sort of snooty.
Here's the deal: for many years, we thought Oak Ridge was special. We didn't want just 'anybody' to live here. Certainly not anyone who lived in a mobile home, for instance! And apparently no one who might want do something as déclassé as keeping back yard chickens.
No, Oak Ridgers only wanted people like themselves: smart, sophisticated, and educated people for neighbors. Remember that city slogan: "Oak Ridge, where smart things happen."
It's ironic that after so many years of rejecting folks, now we're the ones being rejected every day around 5:00 p.m. Have you noticed the thousands of cars streaming OUT of Oak Ridge every afternoon? They come here to work and then LEAVE in droves! Few people who work in Oak Ridge have any desire to live here. They reject that idea every day.
It's time, in my opinion, for Oak Ridgers to get off their high horse. We're not so special, after all. Let's start welcoming nice, well kept mobile home parks and yes…..back yard chickens! Lots of back yard chickens.
I wish I could have my own little flock.
In the meanwhile, I'm enjoying listening to the roosters down in Marlowe. And, I've added a new piano piece at the top of The Listening Room, the third in a set of trifles for solo piano. This one is "A Day in the LIfe of Pepe the Rooster." Enjoy!
Feel free to leave comments about back yard chickens. How do you feel about them?
Be Well and Good Luck,