Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
OK Billings, the city website just posted Monday’s City Council agenda – and the first public reading/comment period for urban hens is on the top of the agenda. We need you and your resident pro-hen friends to BE THERE!!!
6:30PM Monday 7/23/12
City Council Chambers
220 North 27th Street, 2nd floor
We know that it takes time out of your schedule to come downtown on a Monday evening… the Council members understand what a commitment it requires for people to show up. That’s why your presence COUNTS! We can’t let a few people speak for the entire hen-loving community, because the council needs to hear that those who have been there so far are but a small percentage of those of you who call, email, catch us at baseball games, at Vacation Bible School, at the grocery store, or elsewhere, to ask about the status of the initiative. We know that the opposition will be there Monday night – please, please, won’t you be there too??
HENHOUSE Coaching Network
South Central Montana Coaching Clinic
Are you interested in learning how to breed, incubate and grow your own flock of heritage poultry? A growing group of farmers are networking together to develop a Montana Heritage Poultry Coalition. You can join in on the excitement.
We are excited to provide these coaching clinics for education for small local, sustainable poultry farmers throughout Montana.
Actually, in this context, "Irish Chicken" is not related to a non-corned-beef St Patrick's Day traditional meal... but it is related to poultry. Sort of.
JOIN US! Saturday, March 17, 2012 is the annual St Patrick's Day Parade in downtown Billings. Magic City Hens will be a walking unit in the parade, passing out treats and good cheer! We will have costumes with a minimal financial involvement :) and some fun, funky chicken music...
Fresh Thoughts on Food in the Magic City
A forum, a film, a foundation for a food secure community
When: Saturday, October 22nd from 9:00am-3:00pm
Where: Montana State University Billings—UC Ballroom
What: Learn about local food issues, enjoy a local lunch, and learn how you can get involved!
Who: Hosted by the Billings Area Food Policy Council in conjunction with The First Annual National Food Day
Day’s Schedule of Events:
8:15 Registration Opens
9:00 Welcome & Opening Remarks
9:15 Showing of the Film “Fresh”
10:30 Break & Door Prize Giveaway
10:45 Presentations: Montana FoodCorps Members, Canyon Creek School Garden, St. Andrew Community Garden, BackPack Meal Program/Emergency Food, Healthy By Design/Healthy Communities
12:00 Local Lunch Featuring Montana Producers ($5 Suggested Donation – register online at www.FoodDay.org)
12:45 Keynote Address, Jessica Williams, Food & Nutrition Service Manager of Livingston Healthcare
1:45 Door Prize Giveaway
2:00 Panel Discussion & Audience Interaction. Producers, City Officials, & Neighboring Community Members Discuss Action Steps to Increase Local Food Production & Community Food Security
3:00 Closing Remarks & Call to Action
Magic City Hens, our 501(c)(3) nonprofit affiliate, will be on hand with a booth to pass out information, answer questions, have petitions available for signature, and represent urban henkeeping in Billings. Come see us! (“>
“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”
~Bernice Johnson Reagon
“If it is to be, it is up to me.” ~ William H. Johnsen
Have you gotten involved in the urban hen issue?
Are you an experienced artist? If so… the Painted Hens for Habitat program needs your help! We have five more unpainted 6-inch tall cement hens that need painted/decorated/embellished within the next month!
The hens will be auctioned off this Fall to provide funding for the Habitat for Hens program – in which a coop and initial supplies (including started pullets/young hens) are provided to a local needy family. (Note – until the ordinance is passed in Billings city limits, the needy families identified will be outside the city limits.)
The Painted Hens will also be used in a variety of ways before the auction, so your hen might become “famous”… more info on that to come!
Contact HensInTheBackyard@hotmail.com for more information, or to sign up for a hen! (“>
In this post, I’m writing not as Billings Backyard Hen Initiative (which is what this is about), but about… me. TJ Wierenga. Questions about me have come up a few times in recent weeks, since I was one of the primary “instigators” of the issue of urban hens in Billings.
First of all, and this seems to be a sore spot – I am not a Texan. I was born in Charleston, South Carolina when my father was stationed there during his service with the US Navy. My family (mom, dad and sister) moved back to southern Oregon where we came from a few years later, when his service was up. I grew up primarily in the Cave Junction, Oregon area before we moved to Texas. I’ve always loved Montana and planned to move here, it just took me longer than I expected. My husband Mark (who grew up between Iowa and Wyoming), son and daughter and I have lived in Billings since September of 2006, so about 5 years now. We have no plans to ever move, we love Montana and the city of Billings. That being said, Texas is by no means the worst place to have moved from!
My background is that I worked full-time as a Telecommunications Manager for about 16 years in Texas, and had a sideline business doing boarding and training of horses in Liberty Hill, TX. I started colts and worked with problem horses, which I found very rewarding… and very rarely the horse’s fault that it had problems! Animal abuse and cruelty are issues which really bother me, and I believe that responsible animal ownership is crucial. I am now a stay-at-home mom, a freelance writer working for some great local magazines, and a homeschool teacher. I garden extensively, and especially enjoy my family’s participation in the Community Garden at St Andrew Presbyterian Church – despite the fact that we actually attend Emmanuel Baptist - it’s a non-ecumenical garden. Community gardens and helping feed the hungry are also important matters to me, especially local, organic, and sustainable food… that only makes sense. If it matters at all, I vote conservative, but also with conservation issues in mind (and I do vote).
I don’t stand to gain anything by putting my efforts behind this initiative, other than hopefully getting to have pet hens for my family again someday. I’m just a local Mom who wants to feed her family the best, healthiest, most nutritious meals that I can feed them… and the backyard hen egg qualifies on all counts. I think that we should have the right to responsibly maintain a limited number of hens in our own backyards (similar to having our gardens) and I’d like to see anyone else who is likewise interested, able to do so without worry of repercussion or contradictory answers from city personnel.
I think that there are basically two ways to handle any issue: we can either build bridges or build walls. I am not a contentious, argumentative person, and I don’t want to take this issue to that base level. I do think that by educating, explaining, and being willing to work together, we can build consensus on this issue and prove beyond a doubt that backyard hens are good for Billings and for our citizens.
A question has come up related to my dog. I’m not sure what he has to do with all of this, other than being a pretty cool little pooch. He’s an AKC Beagle, neutered and tagged. We purchased him as a puppy from a reputable breeder in the Blue Creek area back in 07 after researching dog breeds that would be moderately active, patient, and good with kids… he’s awesome. He loves to go for walks, especially hiking in the mountains. We worked with him after we took our little pullets (young female chickens) outside this Spring, and despite his nature of being a hunting dog/hound, he somewhat begrudgingly accepted that in fact, those little peeps did belong to the Big People, and he just kept a close eye on them for us. He’s gentle, smart, and quite stubborn! Whoever started the joke about herding cats never tried to teach a beagle any tricks…
Like I said… this isn’t about ME (or my dog). The BBHI is over 100 local citizens as of late July, 2011… I’m just most frequently the fingers behind the keyboard and the voice doing the talking. I’m enough of an introvert that frankly I’d much rather have been anonymous about the whole thing… but sometimes, if you believe in an issue, you have to stand up and do something about it. This is important and we’re going to keep working at it until bridges are built and enough people realize the benefits. This is a factual issue, and it is about the issue. I’m not running for public office, I’m just the messenger. We with the BBHI want to help clarify some issues and put some structure and support to it to protect everyone’s interests. So – enough about me – let’s get back to talking chicken!! (“>
Hello folks -
Please take a moment to contact your city council members and let them know your viewpoint on the “urban chicken” issue. They are asking for our input!
There is a ward map online in case you don’t know the names of your council members.
If they don’t know how many of us are in support of this issue, they won’t have any constituent guidance on how to vote… so please let your voice be heard!
Billings City Council and Zoning Commissions responding!
Zoning Commission Coordinator Nicole Cromwell is proving very helpful in assisting us in our efforts to update the old city ordinance against urban chickens. Thursday I received information from her indicating how to proceed with a written request for the Zoning Commission to consider a zoning ordinance amendment. She even included the amendments currently under consideration in Great Falls, MT. She adds, “If a majority of the Zoning Commission agrees to initiate the amendment then staff would begin the drafting of the code change and keep interested parties informed. I expect the process to take several months since all text amendments must be reviewed by Planning, the City Attorney and City Administration prior to hearings before the City Zoning Commission and finally the City Council. The Zoning Commission will be meeting on June 7 at 4:30 pm, in City Council Chambers (2nd Floor City Hall) to have hearings on other pending applications. If I receive a letter from you on or before next Wednesday (May 11) then I can include this item on their June 7th agenda.”
They will be receiving the letter from us!
Councilman Vince Ruegamer suggested via email that we attend a City Council meeting to discuss urban chickens in Billings, or to discuss it via the phone (which we will do as well), and Councilman Rich McFadden has noted via email that if the Zoning Commission is willing to amend the zoning issue, he will present the issue to the City Council.
So while we’re early stages as of yet, it looks like definite progress is being made. A taskforce meeting consisting of interested citizens will be scheduled to occur sometime within the next week or two. We would like to involve as many interested parties as possible, to let the city of Billings know that this is a GOOD MOVE! Sustainable agriculture in our own backyards… doesn’t get much more local, healthy, and progressive than that!
Rising fuel prices are driving up the cost of food… concerns increase about pesticides & herbicides fed to chickens in production environments and the inhumane treatment of poultry in producer factories… as individuals and families turn more and more to local foods and local food production, the backyard hen movement is sweeping the nation, with a reported 65% of cities nationwide allowing formerly prohibited “livestock”.
Here in Montana, one of the last “wild places” in America if not the world, old and outdated city ordinances are being changed to reflect the changing times. Chickens have, in the past several decades of increasing urbanization, been lumped in with their typical farmyard brethren as “livestock” and subsequently denied access to backyards within city limits. This even in a state with under 1 million people state-wide despite being the 4th largest in the nation. But for a creature who does not require a (crowing) rooster to make eggs, produces dramatically less waste than a similar-sized family dog, devours garden-threatening bugs, wasps, flies and other creepy-crawlies with relish, cleans up kitchen and garden scraps with delight, and has been known to not only enjoy being held by friendly family members but to even, on rare occasions, lay an egg on a lap… the rules need to change. And so they are.
Kalispell – 15 hens, no roosters
Missoula – 6 hens
Great Falls – currently under debate
Whitefish – 5 hens
Bozeman – 15 hens
Helena – allowed
Livingston – allowed
Manhattan, MT – allowed
Neighboring western states are likewise joining the Chicken Revolution and allowing limited numbers of hens. Billings… time to get your Hen on!!!