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home : columns : rahn larson
August 14, 2020

7/1/2020 3:30:00 PM
Future residents: Chickens?
Could chickens, ducks and geese soon become welcome additions to the Windom city limits?
It is a possibility that Councilman Rod Byam says he wants to explore. Byam shared the idea with the city council toward the end of a recent meeting.
"People want to look at being more independent," Byam told the council. "I look at it as a teaching moment for kids. With a one-time permit, the city would know who and what is out there."
Like others who heard Byam's comments, I raised an eyebrow. OK, I cringed a little, too.
I've seen these poultry proposals floated before, not personally, but through newspaper accounts in other cities. It feels like at least once a year, I see it come up. The reaction is always interesting.
Let's just say, not everyone in every town loves chickens  - unless we're talking breasts, wings, or drumsticks. And, based on newspaper accounts, the councils' chicken discussions drew good crowds and spirited debates.
I confess, Byam's comments conjured up images of chickens wandering aimlessly through my neighborhood, pausing to "fertilize" my neighbor's precious flower bed. It also brought back memories of staying overnight at Grandpa Charlie's and being awakened by roosters at the crack of dawn.
"Keep an open mind," I told myself. "Hear him out."
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Rest easy, Byam said during a phone conversation last week. He stressed he would support three caged chickens per household.
And roosters?
"I would say they are out," Byam said. "That's because they create a nuisance, noisewise.
"But, if someone wants to raise quail, or pheasants - three, four, five, or six of them - I wouldn't have a problem."
Byam, a beekeeper from 2012 to 2018, also favors allowing bees in town.
"Since they pollinate 80% of what we eat, I think they (bees) are a necessity," Byam said. "I quit raising them because I am allergic to bee stings. Every time I got stung, I went to the doctor.
"Right now, I'm 71 and if I'm going to live to be 81, I will need to slow down on some things. That is one of them."
Byam hopes to write the ordinance himself, with the help of Building Inspector Andy Spielman. The next step is to submit it to the city planning and zoning board. He said it could be a few months before the council would consider a new ordinance.
Byam said he brought the plan forward at the urging of others. I have no crystal ball, but I have a hunch this could get interesting.

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