Friday, December 24, 2010

CLUCK's Sarasota-based, chicken-oriented, Christmas-themed humor.

Only seven of you found this when it was originally posted with title a tad too dry and earnest.

Consequently we we reposting and explicitly signaling that it is a Christmas-themed humor column. Click the highlighted text below to get to the post.

CLUCK's Sarasota-based, chicken-oriented, Christmas-themed humor.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chicken Breed Selector App for iPhone Reflects Growing interest in Backyard Chickens

In addition to burgeoning online resources such as the Backyard Chicken Forum (nearly 75,000 users), a preponderance of backyard chicken books (over a dozen on Amazon) , and local County Extension Office "Chicken 101" Workshops, Mother Earth News has just announced a chicken app for the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch: Pickin Chicken.

The app is not a menu planner, but a searchable database designed to aid in selecting among 75 different breeds, using more than a dozen search criteria. Think of it as sort of a field guide to domestic chicken breeds.  

$2.99 from Apple's online app store.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

CLUCK's Insider Tips for a Safe (and Legal) Twelve Days of Christmas in Sarasota

Twelve Drummers Drumming: Not recommended -- Likely city noise violation particularly after 10:00 p.m. Avoid downtown areas, residential areas, and any areas likely to contain people. Any drums seized will be auctioned at the Siesta Beach Drum Circle Sunday Jan.16th.

Eleven Pipers Piping: Even the most serious pinhole leaks in slabs seldom require eleven plumbers. You'll need to comply with the Standard Plumbing Code of 1994 and get permits-- and be sure to hire a licensed contractor. Why not have your drywall checked while you're at it?

Ten Lords a Leaping: Great gift idea. Unfortunately delayed to coincide with Sailor Circus performances March 30th through April 9th 2011. Please support the Greatest Little Show on Earth.

Nine Ladies Dancing: Not Cheetah Club! This gift may violate non-compete clause with Sarasota Ballet -- use caution. Consider substituting Sarasota Ballet's A Right Royal Affair in early February.

Eight Maids a Milking: No municipal restrictions on nursing moms, and see also Florida Statute 383.015 regarding State policy regarding breastfeeding in public. However unless you have eight infants, the utility of this gift is questionable and the availability of wet nurses may be very limited this century. Let's save this valuable resource for the infants that really need it.

Seven Swans a Swimming: Two options -- both illegal. Native Trumpeter and Tundra (Whistling) Swans protected by Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Domesticated Black and Mute Swans prohibited by City Ord. 99-4163 although Sarasota Jungle Gardens may have an exemption. If you want to see a Black Swan, check out Natalie Portman's new movie at Burns Court Cinema.

Six Geese a Laying:  Also prohibited by City Ord. 99-4163.

Five Golden Rings: Fraud alert! Use of the ambiguous term "golden" possibly suggests costume jewelry with an attractive metallic color, finish, or glisters, but which may or may not contain elemental gold. Stay vigilant this holiday season.

Four Calling Birds: Recommended. High-end calling birds are not considered poultry and hence are perfectly legal Sarasota gift suggestions. Consider replacing prohibited species (swans, geese, French hens, turtle doves, and partridge) with calling birds, which takes the total calling bird quota up to 24 birds). Remember to only purchase captive-bred birds and adopt whenever possible.

Three French Hens: Prohibited. Probably refers to Cuckoo Marans, a breed of chicken noted for dark brown, chocolate-colored eggs. As anticipated, prohibited by City Ord. 99-4163.

Two Turtle Doves Also prohibited by City Ord. 99-4163, although you can place as much bird feed as you want in an outdoor feeder to subsidize Mourning Doves, and Eurasian Collared Doves. Odd that you can feed as many doves as you want outside a cage, but not keep one in a cage. 

Please exercise caution feeding Rock Doves (AKA pigeons) lest Sharkey's avian control agents find out.

Partridge in a Pear Tree: Not recommended.  Pears require a minimum number of chilling hours for fruit set and our portion of the state is generally too warm. Probably only suitable as gift north of Gainesville.

Partridges: Prohibited, though maybe not for the reason you might expect. The two species of partridge introduced into North America (Chukar and Grey) are western species not found in southwest Florida. But, since these are wild and not domesticated species, if there were any, they would be regulated by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and not the City of Sarasota. That wild versus domesticated distinction explains why the City does not have jurisdiction over the keeping of venomous animals, none of which are featured in this traditional listing of twelve potential gifts.

Overall, looks like your best gift bets would be the Sailor Circus, Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Burns Court Cinema, the Sarasota Ballet, and a whole bunch of calling birds.

Have a great holiday season from Sarasota CLUCK.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CLUCK Outreach: Setting a New Standard

Changes in the Sarasota City Code and City Zoning can be initiated in a number of ways by a variety of entities. Some originate with Commissioners or staff who perceive a need and begin researching ways to improve things. Business interests are another source of proposed changes – the city Planning Board recently spent a lot of time debating awnings and signs at St. Armands. And citizens are free to propose changes and if the City Commission so directs, staff works on drafting proposed changes for the Board to consider.

All these routes include public notice and hearing provisions, but some citizens still complain they never hear about proposed changes until it is too late.

Some people advised CLUCK to take a low-profile, under-the-radar approach to re-legalizing chickens in the City, but CLUCK chose a different high-profile route, undertaking what may be the most extensive and ambitious outreach effort for a volunteer initiative in the City of Sarasota.

Over the past 18 months, CLUCK has utilized seven “channels” or venues to maximize the likelihood interested members of the public can learn about what is being proposed.

NEWS MEDIA: The CLUCK backyard chicken initiative is newsworthy (with lots of pun potential) and CLUCK has cooperated with local print, radio, and TV media to get the word out. Over 20 stories and editorials have appeared to date, most of which can be accessed from the blog.

WEBSITE: CLUCK maintains a website with information about upcoming meetings, Frequently Asked Questions, Common Concerns, and Other Chicken Info. 

MONTHLY MEETINGS: CLUCK holds monthly meetings to educate, entertain and strategize. Meeting topics have included coop comparisons, show-and-tell chicken breeds and we have screened two chicken documentaries.

FACEBOOK GROUP: CLUCK created a Facebook Group to enable Facebook Users to show their support and stay informed. We now have over 500 group members who keep current through Facebook.

CCNA: At the outset of the initiative CLUCK supporters attended a meeting of CCNA (the Coalition of City of Neighborhood Associations) to let representatives from city neighborhoods know about the CLUCK initiative. The CCNA reps provided a number of suggestions that have been incorporated into the draft ordinance. In addition, CLUCK offered to provide a representative to attend neighborhood board meetings to explain what was being considered, answer questions, and listen for additional concerns. This offer has been repeated four separate times so every participating neighborhood has had a ample opportunity to learn about what is being proposed.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: CLUCK has worked with charter CLUCK supporter Alex Coe and IFAS to encourage educational chicken workshops.  Alex’s workshop was held October 15th and the first County Extension “Chickens 101” will be held in January 8th.

CLUCK BLOG: The CLUCK Blog has become a huge success with over 5,300 pageviews, over 70 blog entries and access to local content as well as links to other backyard chicken online sources. In addition, the SarasotaCLUCK blog is linked to SarasotaSpeaks so that additional audiences can find blog postings.

In addition to CLUCK's efforts, City Planning Staff maintains an extensive email list of interested groups and individuals who have been notified about the proposed code changes related to chickens.

The combined effects of staff's efforts, combined with those of CLUCK and the County Extension Office have resulted in an unprecedented effort to inform the public.

Monday, December 20, 2010

CLUCK HIstory: City Planning Board Votes to Oppose Ban on Chickens

Take a trip back in time to April of 1990 when the City Commission was considering banning chickens, apparently in part because one resident had 75 chickens!

Even so, the City Planning Board unanimously opposed the ordinance.

Had the Commission dealt with the particular problem instead of a one size fits all approach, having a few chickens would still be legal today.

We're basically talking about correcting a mistake.

Read the article here on page 42 of the April 16th 1990 Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Consumer Reports: Most Tested Chicken Broilers Contaminated

Hey, Great News! When Consumer Reports checked out bacteria on broiler chickens earlier this year, more than a third of the birds tested had neither Salmonella nor Campylobacter bacteria. That's a big bump from January 2007 when eight of ten broilers tested harbored those bacteria and a great reason to thoroughly cook poultry and avoid contaminating your kitchen workspace. (P.S. Some of the bacteria were antibiotic resistant.)  Read the Consumer Report analysis here.

Backyard Chickens: A matter for neighbors or neighborhoods?

Neighbor Matters versus Neighborhood Matters

Neighborhoods struggle with a wide variety of challenges and opportunities.  Many of these challenges are the result of external, intrusive threats that have the potential to permanently change the character of the neighborhood.  Big incompatible buildings, cut-through traffic, undesired government infrastructure projects, and crime waves are all too common examples.

In order to cope with these challenges, neighborhoods organize and select leaders who can argue on behalf of the neighborhood, secure in the knowledge that the residents are united in a strong consensus opposing the threat (or endorsing the opportunity). And when these matters affect multiple neighborhoods they band together for collective action.

One hallmark of this type of proposed change is that while the strength of objection (or support) may vary across the neighborhood, there is general agreement about whether neighbors oppose or support the proposed change. A hypothetical example could be a waste transfer station proposed for a lot zoned Government Use on the edge of the neighborhood. Neighbors closest to the site can be expected to be the most alarmed and most motivated. But even neighbors on the other side of the neighborhood can be relied upon to question the change and virtually no one can be found that supports placing the waste transfer facility in the neighborhood. And residents in the targeted neighborhood feel especially put upon or burdened – “why does it have to be in OUR neighborhood?”

Another hallmark of this type is that the change typically affects only one or two neighborhoods. The waste transfer facility directly affects the neighborhood in question, as well as the adjacent neighborhood, but the vast majority of neighborhoods in the City have no particular stake in the outcome.

The exception of course, is a city-wide change being contemplated by government. An example could be a proposed shift in rules regarding neighborhood compatibility – how to evaluate proposed non-residential projects adjacent to residential neighborhoods. In this case, many, if not most, neighborhoods have something at stake and they can be expected to coordinate their support for or opposition to what is being proposed.

This is how neighborhoods and neighborhood coalitions work best, agreeing on a course of action to challenge or endorse something there is broad agreement on.

But not all change comes from the outside. In some cases change comes from within, from the neighbors themselves, and this creates quite a different dynamic.

Florida Yards are an example. People disenchanted with the cost and upkeep of conventional yards abandon turf grass for butterfly plants, native shrubs and bunch grasses such as Purple Muhly and Fahkahatchee grass. Other neighbors are aghast and appalled, believing that it is hard to tell wildflowers from weeds and argue that they moved into a neighborhood with lawns and expect it to remain so. Some neighbors don’t care – how people tend their yards seems to be either a trivial or private matter. And some have no interest in abandoning their lawns but feel its okay if others want to.

At the heart of things, matters like Florida Yards and the switch towards native landscaping are not neighborhood issues, but neighbor issues. Reasonable people can disagree on such things and there is no real neighborhood consensus. Trying to push the neighborhood one way or the other simply exacerbates tensions as the factions escalate their efforts to affect the decision-making process. Rather than strengthening a neighborhood, such battles have the potential to weaken and polarize the neighborhood.

Clotheslines are another example. Some find them tacky, unsightly throwbacks to an earlier, less refined time, and perhaps a little like airing laundry in public. Proponents know they are saving energy, but more than that, they see it as a property rights issue.

Backyard Chickens: A Case in Point

At first take, the matter of backyard chickens appears to be a case of government reaching into the neighborhood to change the rules everyone agreed to live by, a perception that leads to it being perceived as clearly a neighborhood matter.

But as the discussion matures, it becomes clear that it is actually quite different and more analogous to Florida Yards than a waste transfer facility or a city-wide change in compatibility rules.

How can we tell?

a)    This is not a matter limited to one or two neighborhoods, but would affect most. Only the multi-family and mandatory homeowner associations would be unaffected. This means the proposed change is not targeting or unfairly burdening any particular neighborhood.

b)   There is no single identifiable site – no geographic locus to the matter. Any private single family lot, anywhere in the neighborhood could have chickens, or could not have chickens.

c)    While there may be a majority opinion, it is neither virtually unanimous or a consensus. Some are strongly opposed, but there are significant numbers of people that don’t care, are advocates, or who don’t want chickens themselves, but don’t mind if the neighbors have them.

d)   Backyard chickens is not a government project being rammed down the throat of a targeted community and neither is it the big outside developer or outsiders bringing in traffic or crime. Backyard chickens are being advocated by other neighbors – it is people inside the community, and owning property in the community that are arguing for the change.


As a result, unpredicted things happen. Neighborhood leaders that initially approach the backyard chicken proposition as an external threat come to find that not everyone agrees with them. The solidarity that comes with fighting a big government project or a big private project is lacking. 

In fact, it turns out that neighborhood board members are often split on the matter, reflecting the differing perspectives within the neighborhood.  And that is exactly what has happened – neighborhoods that were presumed to be 100% against chickens have been revealed to be either divided or indifferent.

When individual neighbors are not in strong, nearly unanimous, agreement attempting to characterize the neighborhood as against (or for!) brings significant risk of weakening neighborhood organization. 

This is why CLUCK has never asked a neighborhood board to endorse backyard chickens – we realize that reasonable neighbors can disagree, that some people are opposed, and that pushing for a vote in such situations is a neighborhood-weakening endeavor.