About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

When Chickens Are Outlawed,
Only Outlaws Will Have Chickens

Ma Barker, Belle Starr, Bonnie Parker are names of notorious female American outlaws.

Jeanie Mellem is hoping against hope that Gretchen, Grace, Carolyn, and Emma don’t join that list of names.

The Bloomington, Minnesota resident has been petitioning the city to allow her to keep her four hens, or “ladies,” as she calls them. Back in February Jeanie and husband Todd Topel received a voice mail from the city, saying that by keeping chickens they were violating a city ordinance. Since then she has started a Facebook page, Help the Chickens Stay in Bloomington, which has attracted over 600 fans. The Star Tribune has covered Jeanie’s crusade on several occasions, here and here.

There’s not a lot of understanding of chickens among metro folk. Look through the Star Tribune comments, always an interesting read, and you’ll find people who say chickens are noisy, untidy, and magnets for rodents and disease. Truth be told, a chicken-free backyard birder can attract rodents by leaving grain in an open container. Most dogs make more noise than the soft clucking of a hen. And disease is more likely to come from mass-produced eggs,judging by headlines like these.

“The chickens have personalities and names; we think of them as pets,” Jeanie says.

Thursday night the Bloomington Planning Commission will listen to public comments before drafting ordinance language. The hearing will take place 6 p.m. Thursday at Civic Plaza/City Hall, 1800 W. Shakopee Road. Residents are encouraged to send written comments to the planning commission by noon Wednesday. If you’re a non-resident who can vouch as a character witness for chickens, Jeanie and the ladies will thank you. 

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