“The Chicken Chronicles”–Part IX

Well, it’s been a while since there’s been any chatter about backyard chickens, but I guess in the winter news is slow, so in a recent morning paper the discussion was raised again, accompanied by lots of LARGE color photos of cute chickens being held by even cuter children.

Riverdale, a town north of us and just south of Ogden just can’t decide if “home is where the hen is.”  The town planning commission has rejected an ordinance that would allow 6 chickens in residential zones, but the city council is still undecided.  So the good folks of Riverdale will have to wait a little longer to find out if they can keep their feathered friends.

Apparently, the bottom line for the planning commission is that people should be allowed to live in residential zones without the threat of farm animals next door to them.  Randy Daily, community development director, feels that “…for residential zones first and foremost is the enjoyment of their property as a residence.”  The current ordinance prohibits roosters (is this blatant gender discrimination?), objectional smells and coops that can be seen from a neighboring property.  It seems to me you’d have to have a pretty big property to be able to ensure any structure on it was out of view from the next property–how many acres would that be?  The police chief, Dave Hanson, asserts that the police department has never received a chicken complaint call, but prohibiting them would help animal control enforce nuisance laws if complaints arise.  (My question here is: If chickens aren’t allowed, who would call to complain about non-existant hens?)

Three families spoke in at the recent meeting in favor of the ordinance banning backyard poultry and several others represented the chickens’ interest as the chickens were too busy roosting for morning egg production.  Brent Coy stated that his family has owned chickens since June (I guess that makes them experienced chicken owners) and a quick survey of his neighbors shows they didn’t consider them (the hens, not the Coys) a nuisance.  In fact, most didn’t know he had them (hens, not kids).  Well, I guess the proverbial cat’s out of the bag now! 

The Coy children love to play with the chickens: one loves to dig up insects and watch the chickens eat them; one swings on the swing with the chicken in her lap; and one likes to share her food with her feathered companion.  One councilwoman commented: “Chickens are a farm animal.  We are moving to an urban feel [in Riverdale] and away from farm animals…people might wonder if this is the Beverly Hillbillies in an urban environment.”  Another councilman countered with the position that chickens are less of a nuisance than dogs and “[i]n the famous words of Chicken Little, ‘the sky is not falling’.  [And I always thought Chicken Little was worried that the sky WAS falling!]   Animal Control is not going to be rounding up chickens…I don’t think it’s our responsibility to create a pre-emptive babysitting situation.” 

Anyway, the issue and the chickens are tabled for the time being.  Say, what’s on your table tonight?  Roast chicken????

You can meet the Coy kids and their chickens in this 3 minute video clip.  (You’ll have to watch a 30 second Lasik vision commercial first):


Published in: on January 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm  Comments (3)  

The News You (Probably) Missed–Vol. 2

Since odd and interesting news continues to occur everywhere, Utah included, it is only fitting I keep up with it and when I have gathered enough news items to share I’ll publish the post on an on-going basis.  My inaugural “News You (Probably) Missed” blog was on 11/17/10 in case you have to play catch-up.  Volume 2 issue covers a questionably attractive robbery suspect, guns, pole dancers, and God approving capital punishment.  Are other countries this weird?

Police Seek Suspect in Two Robberies

Police have a hunch the same suspect robbed two Maverik stores (for those back east it’s Utah’s equivalent of a Wawa without owning their own dairy) at gunpoint in Davis County early Tuesday morning and may have changed hoodies (one black and one blue) as a form of disguise.   Clever, eh?  Read on….  Based on eyewitness descriptions and surveillance photos, the police determined it had to be the same person.  The suspect is described in the paper as a white female, 20-30 years of age, about 5′ 5″ and between 110-120 pounds.  She also has a large sore on her left cheek and no teeth.  My question: With those distinctive facial features, why bother switching hoodies?!

Utah Lawmaker Wants to Name a State Firearm

All states have a state flower, bird, song, and other such designations, but, apparently, nothing says patriotism like the cold, hard steel of an M1911, .45-caliber handgun — designed with love by a local gunmaker.  Which is probably why Utah state Rep. Carl Wimmer (R) wants to make it Utah’s official state firearm.  Wimmer — a former cop and life member of the NRA — stated in a phone interview in the fall that he plans to introduce the legislation in January, when the Legislature is back in session. The gun, designed by Utah-born John Moses Browning (for more background on this topic, see my posting of 2/27/10), has been used in every war since WWI, and is still used today, Wimmer said.  It’s the gun’s “staying power,” he said, that makes it a treasure.  “It is not only of historical value for the state of Utah, but it is of historical value for the United States of America,” Wimmer said. “This firearm has literally saved countless lives, it has defended freedom and liberty across the globe and, as Utahans, we should be proud of that.”  Wimmer told the Salt Lake Tribune that other states have designated official state firearms, but neither he nor the NRA could confirm that.  He has received some backlash from anti-gun groups, who say he’s trying to “glorify an implement of death.”  Others claim Wimmer–who is preparing to campaign for Congress in 2012 — is using this bill as a publicity stunt.  He rejects both claims.  “I’m glorifying an instrument of freedom and liberty,” he said.  “I had this idea more than a year ago.”

Utahn Among the World’s Top Pole Dancers at Championships

Who knew there were pole dancing championships?  They were just held in early December in Toyko.  Performers got 4 minutes and 2 poles.  Outfits had to be “dignified” and stiletto heels were checked at the door.  Serious competetors from around the world competed in men’s, women’s and disabled divisions.  Zoraya  Judd, from Orem, Utah, placed high in the competition.  She prefers to be introduced as an “aerial artist” rather than a pole dancer due to the negative connotations.  Though there’s a move afoot to make pole dancing an Olympic event (I’m not making this up!), Judd feels “it’s still too sexy for the Olympics.”  However, efforts are underway to make this “sport” a “test” event in the Rio de Janeiro summer Olympics in 2016.   (I wonder how far this will go with the International Olympic Committee when they refuse petitions to allow Women’s Ski Jumping!)  One of her co-competitors from the Phillipines said, while garbed in a bikini covered with white feathers and wearing angel wings,  “I just want to make people happy.  But I like that Olympic idea.  We pole dancers just don’t want to be seen as strippers.”

Sheriff: God Approves of Capital Punishment

The newly elected sheriff of Weber County, Utah posted a letter of encouragement on Facebook assuring his staff that they are doing God’s work and that God approves of capital punishment.  (He’s now in the middle of the Red Sea and it ain’t parting!)  A Weber County attorney, Dee Smith, is taking the position that Sheriff Terry Thompson’s posting violates the US Constitution, the Utah State Constitution, and Weber County laws prohibiting work supervisors from discussing religion with their staffs.  (I’ll wager some of those who voted for him may be wanting to recast their ballots.)  Not surprisingly, Thompson disagrees with Smith, but allows that Smith is entitled to his own opinion.  Thompson has since pulled the letter from Facebook, but maintains that changes nothing: “Always know that God, in whatever form you picture Him, recognizes our sacrifice and service.”  Thompson, in the past, tried to join one of Utah’s death penalty firing squads because like a soldier on the field of battle taking an enemy’s life, or a police office taking a life in the line of duty, “it’s okay because God is okay with it.”  Thompson, still defiant, also feels his position is consistant with the thoughts of the Founding Fathers of the US.  “Isn’t our country’s motto ‘In God We Trust’?  It’s in the Pledge of Allegience.  The motto is on all our currency.   Just read  The Federalist Papers [political essays from the late 1700s-early 1800s]; there are hundreds of mentions of God.”

Published in: on January 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Syracuse Museum and Cutural Center

This seems like a good week to write about a topic I’ve been promising for a while now: our hometown museum, The Syracuse Museum and Cultural Center.  Upon moving here in July of 2009, I took notice of it just a stone’s throw from where we live.  Why it took me a full year to finally stop in to investigate, I can’t say.  But last July, one day when Ethan was off track from school and the museum was open, we made a visit and took a tour.  Upon leaving, I thought that it might be fun to volunteer some time here–something I have plenty of now–and I decided to think it over.  I got to the car and decided, why wait?  So I headed back, gave the folks there that day my name and phone number and I became a volunteer.  I’ve been going in on a regular basis most Wednesdays from 1:00-3:00.

Most of the volunteer staff are older retirees, like me, but when I showed up on the doorstep, apparently I brought much needed computer (the other women volunteers don’t even know how to turn on a computer) and writing skills that no one had.  So I spend my time composing exhibit labels, explanatory notes, editing existing information sheets and creating new ones.  I work with Bev and Phil Gooch who were there the day I first visited and they are really friendly and helpful.  Bev puts a lot of the exhibits together and is clever at designing the lay-outs.  She also grew up around here, so she knows just about everyone and the history of the area of Syracuse.  (It’s totally gone now, but Syracuse once had a vacation spa resort on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.  The old photos are intriguing.)  I also have a feeling I’ll be asked to join the board of directors as well in the near future.

Anyway, enough about what I do there.  Let me take you on a virtual tour of the two buildings that comprise the facility: the main changing exhibit area and the farm and out buildings complex.  The main building holds donated items that belonged to families who helped settle the Syracuse area (one section–actually where our house is–being known as Starvation Flats.  Must have been a tough go!)  There are the usual tea sets that came out via wagon train or handcart, embroidered pillowcases, quilts, dresses, hats, gloves, musical instruments, furniture, family and local photos and Mormon religious books (a 1st edition Book of Mormon from 1830, Mormon hymnal, and other related church texts) that one would expect in a town museum that celebrates pioneer heritage.  A huge stuffed bison head even hangs on one wall. 

Syracuse founders' photos and bison head

 A newly built platform with small scale houses, shops, wagons, people and a train depicts what the town looked like from 1876 to 1910.  There aren’t many old original buildings left; modern progress and highways have changed the appearance of Syracuse.  The old pioneer wagon train road, once called Emigrant Road is now paved and sports a new name, Bluff Road.  It runs about 1/4 mile behind our house.

Parlor exhibit with old pump organ


The second part of the tour takes visitors to the farm building and out buildings.  The farm building isn’t a barn, but a single storey long metal structure that actually is the repository of the really (in my estimation) interesting stuff!  Farming was a huge part of life here in the late 1800s and first half of the 20th century.  Syracuse (once irrigation wells were drilled) was known for its fruit and vegetable industry.  Raw and canned produce were shipped via train (once the country was joined by the

Old dress and hats display

railway in the late 1860s) to all parts of the nation.  The sugar beet crop was important as were onions, peaches, cherries and plums.  Onions are the only big crop left that is shipped out for sale in national markets.

Among the farm and pioneer life displays are horse-drawn plows, seed drills, tillers–all basic iron components (like wheels and seat) and must have been a rough, hot ride.  Also there to see is a dry goods store, a blacksmith set-up, and areas that cover the pea and sugar beet industry.  The museum also has a mock farm kitchen tableau to show how challenging life was for the lady of the house. 

Old stove in farm kitchen

There are several educational areas for the kids, including a chicken coop where kids can gather wooden “eggs,” a pig sty with an artificial sow and her pigletts, and a working replica of a cow that has the capability of being “milked” (water comes out) so kids can see what’s it’s like to hand milk a cow.

Old Bessie patiently awaiting milking. Want to try?

The museum offers the expected barbed-wire collection; this seems to be mandatory, most town museums have a barbed-wire display.  The photo below is only two of the panels.  There are over 600 different configurations of barbed wire!  And we have something unique to the Syracuse Museum: a real stuffed two-headed calf.  Apparently one was born in the early 1990s on a town farm, didn’t survive very long and was taken to a taxidermist and then donated to the museum.  I know it’s sort of a queezy thought, but our museum is well known for it and visitors always ask to see it.

The mandatory barbed-wire collection

The infamous two-headed calf

You know you’re in farm country when you see a collection of pitch forks hung on the wall

A pitch fork for every need!

or washing machines from the good old days.

What progress! Galvanized wash tubs to a wringer-washer.

Out buildings in the complex include the town’s one-room barber shop and one of the first log cabins in the area (actually moved from nearby Kaysville to the Syracuse Museum property.  It has one room on the ground floor and a second floor sleeping area under the eaves.  The original Wilcox family who built it raised 9 children in it.  Talk about tight quarters!

The Wilcox Cabin

Here are some other photos from our tour of the museum:

The counter at the dry goods store exhibit

Model of horse and plow exhibit (old fire engine in background)

Mormon Regimental Uniform (late 1800s)

So that’s a taste of Syracuse’s history and museum.  It’s nice that the local folks cared enough to gather and donate all these items from the past and maintain them.  There’s a lot of grant writing involved (thank heavens I’m not involved in that!) and the mayor and town council support the museum’s efforts.  In fact, a local family with deep roots in Syracuse is funding an essay contest this spring for area students in three general age groups.  The students will have several choices as to topics dealing with pathfinding (the museum’s theme for 2011) or historical subjects and there’s nice prize money attached to winning 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place awards.  One of the perks of retirement is that I no longer had to read and grade student essays…guess who will be on the committee to read and judge the contest essays?!  I’m sure there will be a blog posting or two about that adventure.  Thanks for stopping by the museum.  Care to sign the visitors’ book?

Published in: on January 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm  Comments (1)  

Plans and Possibilities for 2011

Well, it’s the first official post of the new year and I have been pondering what it should include.  I have avoided writing about myself, as this is not a diary and that would get boring after a while:  this week I did this, next week this will happen, and so on.  However, I think I can get around that by mixing plans for the coming year with possibilities at the top of Utah.

First, I committed myself to Stradford and the Shakespeare Festival one more time in early August.  I’m wrestling with which way to get there.  I am NOT driving from here.  So that leaves a plane or train.  Both appeal to me and both have drawbacks.  Do I fly into Philly, Detroit, or Buffalo and rent a car from there?  If I fly into Philly, I can see family and friends, but I won’t have time to see everyone, so someone might feel left out.  Therefore, do I fly into one of the other cities near the border and not offend anyone?  The train is slower and more expensive (I’d want a sleeping berth for that long of a trip), but I avoid airport lines and screenings (Do I want the TSA to “touch my junk”?)  Because of the mounting logistics and expenses of getting there, plus tickets, I have come to terms with the prospect that this will be my farewell trip to Stratford.  It’s been a good run of just over 20 years, and I feel fortunate to have enjoyed the town, the friends I made there, and the plays–ah, those plays!

We’ll be putting in another garden this year, so I’ve sent away for a mail order garden catalogue so we can plan and drool in the coldness of February and March.  It’s not safe to put any tender plants out until well after Mother’s Day in May, so we have lots of time to lay out the garden plot.  Less Lemon Boy tomatoes this year and more Brussels sprouts!  We’re still enjoying all the frozen bounty from last year’s garden.  Last night we had some of the frozen Italian tomato sauce.  Sure beats Ragu!

I am busy with things I’ve committed myself to: church (new head of Altar Guild, Artists’ Guild, Member of Building and Grounds Committee, choir), volunteering at the local town museum (will write about that soon), and a once-a-month local women’s lunch for British wives.  A friend of mine from church is British and a member, and though I’m not British nor a wife, they welcomed me into the fold as I qualify based on me being an Anglophile. 

That’s the actual plans, now for the possibilities.  I could get a day job…NO!!!!!   I could start that novel I’ve always wanted to write…maybe.  I could buy a sewing machine and start making my own clothes again…I don’t think so.    But I could sign up for one of Davis County Anult Education classes and enrich my life in new ways.  (I took an 8-week Italian class back east one time, but the language just didn’t stick.)  The brochure recently arrived in the mail and is tempting me with (now keep in mind this is UTAH!) this sampling:

  • Writing and Constructive Critiquing Workshop
  • Belly Dancing
  • Seed Starting
  • Square Foot Gardening
  • Make-up Artistry
  • Human Relationship Skills
  • Eyebrows–the proifessional way
  • Bright Ideas for Cutting Clutter
  • Signing with Babies
  • Yoga
  • Watercolor Painting
  • Telephone Etiquette
  • Balancing Women’s Hormones Naturally
  • Jewelry Making
  • Lawn Sprinklers
  • Hypnosis Power Made Easy
  • Quilting
  • Scrapbooking (three levels: Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Beginning Fly Fishing (then Intermediate and Advanced)
  • Digestive Disorders
  • The Way out of Depression
  • History of the English Language (I could teach this one!)
  • Overcoming Worry
  • Firearms Safety
  • Advanced Concealed Firearms
  • Shot Shell Reloading

There are also the usual offerings like Intro to Computers, Spanish, Guitar, Cooking, Ballroom Dance, and so on.  But I thought the mix of the above courses really offer a look into life in Utah.  A little grooming, a little sex, some outdoor life, practical stuff, and a whole lot of NRA.

Ciao!  (One of the few words I remember from my Italian class.)

Published in: on January 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm  Leave a Comment