Most of my readers probably follow Sarah's blog and have seen the news on the Armstrong's newest acquisition. We followed the recent trend in Suburbia and took on a chicken coop and egg laying hens. After months of tossing the idea around, a friend offered his old coop for free leaving us no more excuses. We got the coop moved, cleaned and into place the Sunday before last. After reading up on the subject, I went about making a chicken run and ensuring the coop would remain predator/rodent safe. I spent more time and money than I had imagined but created a nice space for our girls. On Thursday, we made a trip to Sandy to pickup four 16 week old hens. Our adventure was set to begin. We only have one problem now, our neighbors. They made comments at the initial sight of our coop and were nice enough to deliver a caring and heartfelt letter to our mailbox Friday morning. Its such a great read so here it goes:
Dear Matt and Sarah-
We are thrilled to have such a nice family move in next door to us and have enjoyed getting to know you and your darling children. We're writing to you because this is easier than trying to find us both home at the same time, and because we have been tossing and turning all night thinking about your chicken coop. We think the way you feel about your neighbors dog is about the way we feel about your chickens - can't do a thing about it but wish it would go away. We're only asking that you consider moving the coop into the center of your backyard, along the east fence and away from our property line. Our bedrooms are on the north and east sides of our home, just like in your home, so the noise level from the north neighbors has a big influence on how well we sleep sometime, and we don't think you can train chickens to not make noise. Your coop is well hidden from view for you but not for us. As we enter our backyard - which we will be using a lot more in the summer (for entertaining, playing and working in) - it will be impossible to ignore the sight, noise and smell of your coop. Our biggest concern is the rats that will invading your coop, and we would like them as far away from our yard as possible. We know it's impossible to keep them from finding their way into our yard and home, but maybe there will be fewer of them getting under the fence if their nests (made in your coop) are farther away from that fence. We had no idea your coop included an open fenced area for them. Are you aware that your apricot tree will be dropping fruit into your coop and onto your chickens? It is really quite a mess under that tree in the spring and early summer. Do chickens like apricots? Anyway, we don't want this request to cause any unkind feelings, because we have tried to be good neighbors, but hope you will consider our plea to move the coop as far east and north as possible.
Gavin and Jill
How to respond? Based on the lack of tact this letter reeks of and the neighbors initial comments in person, its hard to find a proper response. We followed every letter of the law for chickens within city limits, ensured protection from rodents through proper coop design/food storage and will ensure a clean coop is kept to minimize smell. If this letter were written 4 months from now because we had rodents invading the neighborhood, chickens waking everyone around us and an unkempt, smelly coop I would understand. But everything in this letter is either false or makes assumptions of the worse case. At this point; my chickens and family sleep soundly knowing that the neighbors toss and turn all night assuming the Armstrong's are horrible, unclean people. I suppose it will only get better when the well rested Armstrong family enjoys fresh eggs in the morning while the tired neighbors consume their lives with worries based on assumptions of others.