I grew up in Central Wisconsin where farms and all the side-effects of such businesses wafted through the air regularly. Some would try to put up a brave front and tell me that the manure scent for large farm operations was the sign of ‘healthy country living’. I was never able to see it that way, and so when I moved first to Sturgeon Bay and then Madison I was fine with leaving barn-yard odors behind.
I had not thought much of that memory until about a week ago while taking a long walk in Madison. It was one of those humid nights when the smells of the city were caught and held close. The most odorous scent hit me on a neighborhood street, and at once I recognized the cause. One of the residents had a chicken coop, and it was not clean. Not even close to clean.
Now before folks jump too high at my sensitive nose, let me say I applaud healthy eating and better understanding where our food comes from. The chicken movement in Madison seems to be alive and well, and the better eating movement seems to the main motive behind it. That is fine.
I just happen to think that residential areas are not the best place to raise chickens, and am pleased that my neighbors seem to agree. I can only make that statement as none raise chickens in my immediate neighborhood. There seems to be enough natural tensions at times with neighbors without needing to knock on their door and mention ‘something reeks here.’
What strikes me as amusing is how the new ‘city farmers’ in Madison are working to make the rural act of raising chickens appear chic and upscale. This weekend there is even a walking tour of chicken coops in one area of the city with a title, “Tour des Coops” that seems more like a Sundance feature than a rooster petting affair.
I lived a long time in an agricultural area of this state and am unable to recall a ‘Tour des Barn-yards’. But then again as I stated above I did move away, and things change.