Come Smell Our Barn-Yards


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.

2 thoughts on “Come Smell Our Barn-Yards

  1. Rolf Rodefeld

    I’m disappointed! The city council just increased the number of hens one could have from four to six. It was because there weren’t any complaints about the backyard coops with a limit of four hens. I know of at least one coop on my block. I have never smelled anything from it on even the most humid of days. In fact I wasn’t sure it really was a coop until the first day I actually heard some almost inaudible noises from the hens as I passed by the coop. I actually suspect that there are several more coops in my immediate area and that is just fine with me. I would hope that the coop owners in our neighborhood would sniff out the offender and make them clean up their act. ; I would hate to see one bad actor ruin it for all the other good coop owners. But all coop owners need to keep in mind that having a backyard coop is a privilege not a right

  2. Ron Groskreutz

    I hope there is at least a limit on how many chickens they can house? It seems like the country is a better home for livestock.

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