Lesson 1124 – Smelly Chicken Coop – what a neighbor can do.

I recently got this email from a reader who is having problems with his close neighbor’s smelly chicken coop. Read the letter, my reply, and if you have any suggestions, please let us know.
Problems with backyard poultry smell

I’m hoping you can help me with a desperate quandary I have regarding my neighbors.  They have a coop and it is SO smelly.  The backyards are not big and they do have it as far away as they can, maybe 50 yards away from my backyard (maybe less), but the smell is so atrocious that I can’t use my backyard, screened in porch or even open the windows in the back of the house because it smells so bad.  I spent the evening yesterday cooking in the kitchen with the only window in the kitchen shut because I couldn’t take the smell anymore.  It was barely perceptible last year but this year it seems to be omnipresent especially in the afternoons and evenings.  It is especially rough lacking any central a/c as we need to be able to open our windows.

I really don’t care if they have chickens or not.  I don’t hear them and they don’t seem to have a lot.  I get it might make sense for them and times are rough all over but I’m feeling like I’m under assault in my own home.  Any advice would be so welcome, Thanks!
Responsible chicken care
Chicken noise and smell is a HUGE thing in residential flocks and if complained about enough, it could cause a ban on chickens for those who have close neighbors. While I believe that we have a right to have chickens, I also believe that we have an obligation to respect our neighbors’ peace and property. We have 27 chickens and our coop does not smell, in fact, we have dinner in our backyard every night, the coop in question must have a lot of moisture in it. Here’s my reply.

First, where are you located? Asking this to know if zoning allows for chickens.

That’s a very tough situation. I believe that everyone has the right to have chickens but that everyone also has the right to peace and quiet (which includes smell-free) in their back yard. I believe that reasonable peace in your house and yard trumps your neighbors having chickens.

In our town, we recently had a resident approach the town council about a rooster ban. His neighbor has two roosters that crow night and day. He can no longer use his backyard – that’s a problem. Our town is zoned agricultural and so we can’t have a ban on roosters. That’s not going to help this guy.

I spoke in favor of including roosters in a noise ordinance – roosters are a big problem in residential flocks. If you have the land, then go for roosters, if you have close neighbors, then no – you shouldn’t be allowed to have

roosters. End of story.

If the smell is that bad (recognizing that at some times the smell will be worse than others, particularly when there is the spring muck out), then the first thing to do is talk to your neighbors. I know, I know, no one likes confrontation but brush up on your best negotiation skills.

Approach them by first saying you don’t mind that they have chickens but that the smell is affecting your use of your yard and that it is starting to be a problem. Don’t threaten, don’t say that you’ll call the police, offer to give them time to come up with a solution (1-2 weeks is fair.)

If they are sensible, they will try to do something.

If they are not sensible they will ignore you (and give us chicken owners a bad name.) At that point you can contact the city or town health department  to  do a site visit in order to determine if there are any health code violations. (which, if there is a strong smell, I’m willing to bet that there may be.)

If the health department gets involved, prepare to lose the good graces of your neighbors, but from the sound of it, that may not be such a big loss.

Good luck and let me know what happens. I’ll put this question and answer on my blog to see if anyone else has some suggestions.

So how about it gang, any words of advice? How do you curtail the smell?


Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Coop care, Living Tiny in a Big House, Uncategorized

Lesson 1123 – Quotable Chicks

Friday’s Quotes for the Chicks

Food is for eating, and good food is to be enjoyed… I think food is, actually, very beautiful in itself.

Delia Smith

Last weekend Marc and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary by having our annual lunch at our favorite restaurant: Pickety Place located in Mason NH.  This restaurant is a New Hampshire treasure located way back in the woods off the path of a windy dirt road.

The restaurant’s claim to fame is that a small gardening shack on the property was the inspiration for the drawings used in a copy of Little Red Riding Hood. *I*, however, think that their true claim to fame is the food. Each lunch is a 5 course meal which uses herbs and flowers grown on the property.

Thought I’d give you a little taste of the fall season at Pickety Place.

Lunch was potato/vegetable gratin. (you have a choice of a veggie meal or one with meat)


There are 3 lunch seatings at the the restaurant, and hey encourage you to walk the grounds until the lunch bell rings. (so we did)

All around the property you’ll find ripe pumpkins that have been artfully placed. Continue reading

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Filed under Holidays, Personal, Quotable Chicks, Uncategorized

Lesson 1122 – Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maquire – Book Review

eggspoonAs you might know I recently saw Gregory Maguire at our local Barnes and Noble where he was kicking off his book tour for his newest book: Egg & Spoon.

IMG_20140910_180359008During his presentation he said that this book, which is classified as YA (Young Adult) is really a cross-over book. He told us the story about how he sent the original manuscript to the publishers of his last YA book (What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy) and told them that they could publish the manuscript as a YA or he would be sending it over to his fiction book publishers (who have published among other books, his Wicked series) who would publish it as an adult novel.

In either case, no words were going to be changed.

His YA publishers quickly agreed to publish the book. Continue reading

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Lesson 1121 – Ketogenic Diet as part of Lyme Disease Treatment?

This post follows the one from yesterday because it continues the discussion on Lyme Disease treatment. In the last two weeks I have been following a ketogenic diet to see if it helps with my lingering Lyme disease symptoms.

Photo credit: Paul Downey

Photo credit: Paul Downey

In doing the research for yesterday’s post I re-read my original blog post on how I felt *before* I was officially diagnosed with Lyme disease. To put it simply, I was a hurting puppy. My joints hurt, my memory was affected, I had shooting nerve pains all over the place, I felt much, much older than my age.

When I look at that post, I see how far I’ve come. These days, I’m back to playing occasional tennis, I’ve taken up hot yoga again, and on average I walk 10,000 steps as recorded by my fitbit. This past weekend, I participated in a 5K Lyme awareness walk – something that would have been impossible last year.

Oh yeah, and my memory is better. (Didn’t want to forget that one.)

And still I am bothered by some lingering symptoms. One Achilles tendon is perpetually tight, I have vague structural and joint soreness, and I still have muscle twitching and popping in my legs. Continue reading

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Lesson 1120 – The current state of Lyme disease treatment in New Hampshire



Yesterday I got a call from New Hampshire’s U.S. Senator Shaheen’s office regarding a letter I had written about  Lyme disease symptoms in my family and Lyme disease treatment in New Hampshire. I had a chat with one of her aides and this is the email I sent her this morning.

I will continue to fight the good fight on Lyme disease because so many people are unnecessarily being harmed.

It’s not that hard – Lyme disease (and its co-infections) are bacterial infections. We have the drugs to wipe them out.

The problem is that Lyme disease symptoms are not being recognized, testing is abysmal, and treatment varies from Doctor to Doctor.

When it is standard treatment to treat the tuberculosis bacteria for 9 months with multiple antibiotics (and then to treat a relapse, which often occurs within 12 months of stopping treatment) because in the chronic stage the bacteria can form a bio-film that makes antibiotic penetration difficult, I find it hard to understand why Doctors in New Hampshire (the #1 state for reported Lyme disease cases) will dispense 2 – 6 weeks of antibiotics for a CHRONIC Lyme infection (where the bacteria also forms bio-films) and then sends you off to a specialist or even a psychiatrist if your symptoms come back.

If ever there was a definition of stubborn-insanity, it’s that.

I’m just not going to keep quiet about this one.

This is what I sent the to the Senator (and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.) Continue reading

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Lesson 1119 – Chickens in the winter – how to care for your flock

IMG_20140118_115558127We’re heading into the colder months and new-time chicken owners are already starting to have anxiety attacks. “How, oh how will I be able to keep my babies warm?” they fret as they look into expensive heaters and even sweaters knit for chickens. (Go ahead and ask me how I know. I was once a first time chicken owner too, you know.)

Chickens have always known what to do in cold weather, as the owner you simply need to provide the basics (and nope, no matter how cute, a sweater is not a basic.)

I had one reader contact me to ask about winter preparation, she wanted to use hay on the floor of the outdoor run and she wanted to put tarps up to protect her flock from wind and snow in the run (the birds all had access to a fully enclosed coop from the run area.)

Before you do anything, I told her, just take a deep breath. I live in New Hampshire where we also have very cold winters. Your chickens will be able to figure out how to survive even the coldest winter on their own. Continue reading


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Response from Manna Pro on feeding Goat Treats to dogs (Pippin)

In an earlier post, I wrote about how in an effort not to waste some Goat Treat Samples I was given at the Mother Earth News Fair, I fed some to my dog, Pippin (4 pellets was enough of a treat for him.)  I wrote to Manna Pro to ask if there were any problems in feeding these treats to dogs and this is their reply:


Good morning Ms. Thomas:

I hope you enjoyed the Mother Earth News Fair as much as I did.

I am so glad that your flock loved the treats —thank you for including the photo on your blog.

According to Dr. Rob McCoy Manna Pro Vice President, Nutrition and Quality Assurance, there are no ingredients harmful to dogs in the Goat Treats.  However, Goat Treats do not go through extrusion cooking, as do most dog foods, and the starch could lead to digestive upset in dogs.  Thus, feeding Goat Treats to dogs should be discouraged.

Best to you, your flock and Pippin!


I had to look up exactly what extrusion cooking was and here is an explanation from wisegeek.com Continue reading


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