Category Archives: village codes

Dead squirrels and wormy birds (no wonder my head aches)

Bailey – she certainly keeps life interesting.

We’ve had an ongoing prediction here at The Funny Farm, that someday Bailey is going to catch a squirrel. Not only is she a fast runner, she has a super sniffer. If a critter is in the yard, she can sniff him out faster than he can find a place to hide.

Sometimes when I let the dogs out, the bolt to the back and I can hear squirrels scratching up the trees. Bailey once trapped a squirrel at the top of the 8′ high fence. The squirrel would run left; Bailey was there. He’d run right;  Bailey was there. Not that she could catch him up that high. She’s just intimidating, what with that bark.

If there’s something unusual – or dead – in the yard, Bailey will find it. Poop, peanut shells from the neighbor’s feeder, trash blown from the other side of the fence. I once saw Bailey chewing on what I thought was a stick. It turned out to be an entire dead bird. A whole bird! She had the entire thing in her mouth! I had to pry open those jaws and literally reach in to remove the intact bird.

Talk about gross.

Anyway, I had gone out to run an errand. When I came home, I let Bailey out and stayed inside for a minute to be welcomed home by Bandit. Things were quiet outside – no barking, no yipping, not a sound. That’s a good sign, usually. I went out to switch dogs – and that’s when I saw Bailey in the driveway standing over what looked like an old stuffed toy.

Except it wasn’t a toy. It was a squirrel.

Bailey had the squirrel pinned down, then she’d let it up. The squirrel would try to get away, Bailey would paw at it, it would squeak, she’d paw at it, and on and on. Bailey was strangely calm, as if she wasn’t really sure what she’s caught or what she wanted to do with it. And the squirrel was clearly in distress but seemed to know that if he stayed still Bailey was more likely to just stare, rather than cause him further harm.

I knew that freaking out would send Bailey over the edge – she’s reactively weird that way. A screetch from me and the squirrel would be toast. So I ran into the house, grabbed some biscuits and started calling Bailey, tossing biscuits in an attempt to lure her from the squirrel just long enough so I could grab her collar while avoiding a scratch from the squirrel.

It took a second or two, but I got Bailey in the house, and hoped that the squirrel would run away to wherever it is that injured squirrels go.

I called the vet – Bailey is up to date on her shots, she didn’t appear to be injured at all, so there wasn’t any worry in that regard. But when I looked outside, there was the squirrel. Dying, right outside the screen door.

The squirrel crawled up there in the middle of the garden hose tangle. And died. Sort of.

So I called the village animal control office (which in our town is also the building inspector). Not surprisingly, the clerk told me that animal control really doesn’t do anything and that usually in this situation, the critter will crawl away on its own. (This is actually a very, very common policy.) But when I told her the critter was … Eeeeww!! Right at my door!!! … Dead in the hot sun!! …. she sent over Dave, the building inspector/animal control officer.

Dave thought that the squirrel had a broken back, and that it was entirely possible that the critter was already injured when Bailey found it. I tend to agree; Bailey wasn’t worked up into a frenzy, and she didn’t seem bent on shaking or chewing or otherwise causing the critter harm. She was much more curious than murdurous about her little pal.

Thankfully, Dave removed the squirrel – it was still alive so he had to … let’s say … humanely remedy the situation. He was so nice and he took care of the situation so calmly. I will never complain about how high my taxes are again.

As I watched him drive away, I looked down, and there was a dead bird in the front yard. A gross, wormy, ant-covered dead bird.

Seriously, what is going on over here? Continue reading

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Cuckoo for cochins (and giving the building inspector ulcers)

Yes, dear readers, it’s official: I have lost my mind!

Yesterday, I added two more chickens to our little flock, and plan to add one or two more in a month or so.

My doctor said I’m not allowed to take a nap in the afternoon any more, and since it was cold and rainy I couldn’t go for a walk. I figured it was a good day to go visit Nature Berry Farm in Macedon.
Just to look at the chicks, you know. Kill some time. Get out of the house.
OK, I confess. I knew they had Sicilian Buttercups and I wanted one.
I met Jim and Sandy Pecora, who own the little farm, and Jim gave me the grand tour and introduced me to the chicks. I would have taken two Silkies then and there, but they aren’t sexed yet and I can’t have roosters. So I need to wait a few weeks until they can tell the guys from the gals. (Here’s what a Silkie looks like.)
Then we went to see the birds that are about 7 weeks old, and ta da! After talking with Jim, I decided the Buttercup probably wasn’t a good bird for our flock because they’re better free range. But I fell in love with the cochins.
Tempermentally, they’re a lot like my Polish hens, Lucy and Ethel. But they’re fluffy birds with feathers on their feet.
One is a Buff Cochin, the other a Partridge Cochin. Too cute.
I think I’ll name the buff hen Camilla – after Gonzo’s girlfriend – or maybe Cornelia, and the partridge Elenore. I was going to name her Shirley – get it? Shirley Partridge? – but I thought that was too goofy.
I went to the village office today to get a permit for 4 more chickens – because I am getting at least one Silkie – and of course caused a big snarl of red tape. Even though they won’t be in the coop for a month or more, giving us more than enough time to configure the sleeping situation, I couldn’t be sure I had the required 4 sq. ft. of inside space. So I couldn’t get a permit for 4 birds.
I could only get a permit for the 2 I already bought, and Jim the building inspector is coming over Thursday to … well, inspect the buildling.

But ta da! Turns out our coop is actually big enough to give 8 chickens their 4 sq. ft. required by building code! I’ll definitely figure out how to house the two Silkies before I get them.

Here’s the dilemma: the Cochins, the Polish, and the Silkies are very similar in personality. Timid, mild mannered, easily picked on. The other four – Orpington, Rhode Island Red, Sussex, and Wyandotte (aka Mrs. Beasley) may end up picking on the more timid birds. So I may end up having to have two coops to keep them apart. I don’t want to make any major renovations to the coop and then have to actually separate the birds.

But I have time to find out, now that I know the coop is the right size.

So there you go: two new chickens!

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The building inspectors come to see the coop and I get nervous


I asked Jim the building inspector to come over and check our chicken coop before we enclosed the entire run, so that if there was a problem we could correct it while it was still easy to do it. The only thing left to do on the actual coop is paint.

I should have known we were in trouble when another inspector, Larry, came with him. Larry is afraid of dogs, so of course Scout and Bandit were in rare barking and jumping form when they got here. (Here’s the irony: the village recently did away with our dog catcher, Wendy, and the animal control duties were handed over to the building inspector’s office.)

Larry said he’d wait in the front yard while Jim came to check the coop, but I offered to put the dogs in the house. I probably should have let him do that, considering what happened next.

Neither man looked too happy to be there, which made me nervous. They both commented about my new 45 gal. garbage pail for the coop and explained that there’s actually a code about how big a garbage can can be. When I asked how big, they looked at our regular (and much bigger) can and said, “You don’t want to know.” The 45 gal. pail is good.

Then Larry started looking at the neighbors’ houses and making a list of citations. While he was doing that, he stepped in dog poop.

Rats. I thought I’d gotten it all.

Our neighbor Dave in the back had been worried the inspector would notice his unfinished shed, and that’s the first thing Larry noticed, along with his trailer. I begged him not to cite Dave; I told him I didn’t want our neighbors to suffer because I’d called them. Larry said that’s what he does; he checks out everyone’s houses when he gets a chance to go in someone’s back yard.

Double rats. He noticed another neighbor’s rotting roof, and then the paint peeling on our garage, and the old fence dividing our property line.

Triple rats. I just told him about our roof problem before he could find it. Then I begged him not to cite us, since I had actually called them out because I was trying to do things the right way instead of just doing stuff and hoping no one noticed.

He said he understood and he’d come back out on June 1 to make sure the paint was fixed. He wouldn’t cite me now but if it wasn’t done, I’d get a letter. I don’t think he’ll cite me for the garage roof; I promised we’d get on that in the spring as well. But who knows?

As for the coop, Larry’s first thought was that he couldn’t believe I didn’t need a permit to build it. That made me nervous.

I’ve been talking to Jim the inspector about the coop since before I even ordered the chickens. I wanted to make sure that I did everything the correct way; I’m obsessive like that. In September, Jim told me that I needed to apply for the permit to get the chickens, that I didn’t need to have the coop built before the chickens arrived (since they’d be in a brooder) and that I didn’t need to have the plans approved ahead of time. I hope that we didn’t miss anything.

They checked to see where the roof water ran off (yup, onto our property). And Larry said that he thought the inside was just barely 6×4. I need 4 sq. ft. per chicken, so that’s the minimum size the coop can be for our 6 chickens.

Larry was also concerned about it’s proximity to houses; I pulled out the code and read him where it says the coop needs to be 25 feet from any dwelling, which it is, and which I thought was all we needed to follow. That seemed to satisfy him. Maybe.

Then they wandered out front, Larry looking for things that were wrong the whole time. Jim didn’t say much throughout the inspection. When they were getting ready to leave, I asked Larry if the coop was OK. I told him I wasn’t really ready to put the chickens in there today, but that we wanted to make sure it was OK before we enclosed it in the run. And I might need to put them in there while I cleaned the crate.

Larry said, “Don’t look at me. Jim’s doing the inspection.” Jim’s answer was a bit vague but I think the coop is OK. I told him we’d call him when the run was done.

All in all, it was nerve-wrecking. What I wanted to avoid was having the coop finished and the run enclosed and then having them come and tell us we had to extend the coop by 2 more feet or something. Right now, I’m not 100% sure that the coop is OK. I think it is. But if I paint the whole thing and enclose it, and then find out I need to make it bigger or move it, I’m going to be really ticked.

I feel badly for my neighbors. I invited the inspectors to the house, so if they have to cite me for stuff, then so be it. That comes with the territory and I knew that risk when I decided to do this project. But my neighbors are going to get cited for stuff, too.

Then again, a building inspector who actually inspects buildings is what keeps a town looking good, and keeps houses safe. So when it comes down to it, I’m glad he does his job. Otherwise, our neighborhood could become a slum and then our property values really would be way overblown. More than they already are.

In the end, it’s still better to work with the building inspectors than try and do the project and hope no one notices. I’ve had a few neighbors say that’s what I should have done. I can’t do that. I live in a small town and our houses are close together. It’s important to me that I don’t do something that’ll make life miserable for other people.

So, if anyone wants to come over and paint trim or fix our garage roof, let me know!

I’ll keep you posted on the coop progress!

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I’m officially a poulterer … is that a word?

I went down to the village clerk’s office today to get my chicken permit. Apparently chickens aren’t a popular pet in E.R. as they had some trouble finding the right forms. They don’t get much call to fill out permits for residents to raise poultry (gee, can’t imagine why not?) so they had to dig for the correct paperwork. When I asked if I was the only one in town with chickens, they said, “You are now.” Apparently someone else had chickens and now they don’t.

(I wonder if it was my old neighbor Roberto. He had chickens – and at least one rooster – in his garage. I remember the first time I heard the “cock a doodle doo!” in the morning. Like at 5 in the morning. I rolled over and asked David, “Did I just hear a rooster, or am I going crazy?” Well, we all know the answer to that question now, don’t we? But I digress.)

While I ran and got cash at the ATM (I always forget I can’t use a credit card at the village office) they filled out my license to be a poulterer. To have poultry. Whatever. I can now officially have six chickens in my residence. Well, not in my residence. At my residence. You know what I mean.

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I'm officially a poulterer … is that a word?

I went down to the village clerk’s office today to get my chicken permit. Apparently chickens aren’t a popular pet in E.R. as they had some trouble finding the right forms. They don’t get much call to fill out permits for residents to raise poultry (gee, can’t imagine why not?) so they had to dig for the correct paperwork. When I asked if I was the only one in town with chickens, they said, “You are now.” Apparently someone else had chickens and now they don’t.

(I wonder if it was my old neighbor Roberto. He had chickens – and at least one rooster – in his garage. I remember the first time I heard the “cock a doodle doo!” in the morning. Like at 5 in the morning. I rolled over and asked David, “Did I just hear a rooster, or am I going crazy?” Well, we all know the answer to that question now, don’t we? But I digress.)

While I ran and got cash at the ATM (I always forget I can’t use a credit card at the village office) they filled out my license to be a poulterer. To have poultry. Whatever. I can now officially have six chickens in my residence. Well, not in my residence. At my residence. You know what I mean.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!