6 August 2008

Chickens, rainwater and line drying - I'm ranting

I try to maintain a balanced view in my life and on my blog and I generally believe that what others do is their own business and not anything that I should be bothered with, but this is wrong. I want to shout this as loud as I can. Everyone who has some land at the back of their home should be able to keep chickens! Everyone should not only be allowed, but should be encouraged, to collect rainwater from the roof! Everyone should have the right to hang their washing in the sun to dry!

Joanne's comment the other day really surprised me. She said: "Love your new water tank. I've done some checking & found out that it's illegal in Colorado USA to capture water. Can you believe it? I also live with a HOA that doesn't allow clotheslines much less chickens! We're supposed to have all landscaping approved also, but think we can "sneak in" some square foot beds next spring as our land is on a downward slope & we don't have bad neighbors. " I've been thinking about that comment since it was made and I feel I have to say something about it. In doing so, I mean no disrespect.

I don't want to be critical but those regulations are just plain wrong. Is this only happening in the USA or do other countries have similar laws?

There was a time when all those things were so common no one questioned them. All of our great great grandparents would have raised chickens, had vegetable gardens, line dried their clothes and collected rainwater to drink and wash with. Why are you able to carry a gun but not raise chickens for eggs? As far fetched as it may sound, both are linked. From my understanding, guns are still allowed for self protection and hunting. Chickens will help you feed your family just as much as hunting wild game will; raising chickens in the backyard is a form of sustainable protection against hunger and debt. So why are guns allowed but chickens aren't? If they want to regulate, let them regulate the number of chickens allowed, not just ban them outright.

Read this: city residents seek relaxed rules on keeping chickens.

I have no idea why harvesting rainwater would be illegal. Have we removed ourselves so much from the natural world that the things we do to stay clean and hydrated must come from inside the house? We should be asking why these regulations are in place. Here is an interesting article about this very topic. If the argument is that rainwater collection will not allow enough runoff into streams, that's hogwash. Landowners will only collect as much rainwater as their barrels will hold. If they have two 5000 gallon tanks, when they're full, with each fall of rain they will just be topping up. They won't collect 10,000 gallons every time it rains. If they want to put controls in place, regulate the number and capacity of barrels or tanks allowed, but residents should be encouraged to take responsibility for their own water collection is they choose to do it.

Line drying clothes in the sun must be one of those regulations that seemed like a good idea at the time. I doubt there are any valid reasons for not allowing anyone to hang clothes in the sun if they're on their own property. What is wrong with that! Does everything have to be processed by a machine for it to fit within the norms we've set for ourselves?

Regulations like these make residents dependent on their regulators when what is needed in these current times is for all of us who are capable of it to be as self-sufficient and sustainable as we can be. We need to be independent and encouraged to do as much for ourselves as we can.

I don't think it's right to look backwards, and I know that we are far better off now than we were in 1950, 1900 and beyond that, but our ancestors knew how to look after themselves long before our chickens were frozen and delivered to us in plastic bags. We are all here because they kept themselves alive with the things they grew to eat and the water they collected to drink. Why has that right been taken away now?

If I was told I couldn't keep my chooks, harvest rainwater or hang my clothes out to dry in the sun, I'd complain loudly to my politicians, I'd write letters to the editor of my local newspaper and I'd form a group of like minded people to help fight against those controls. I hope I've encouraged those who live with these incredibly stupid regulations to find their own voice and protest. It is your right to do so, it is also your right to keep chickens, save rainwater and hang your clothes in the sun.



  1. Hi Rhonda,
    I agree with you that these little by-laws are completely ridiculous. Here's another example of that stupidity here in NZ - the editor of the very popular NZ Gardener magazine (Lynda Hallinan) has gone almost completely self-sufficient in her inner city backyard and journals about it every week on an online blog and newsletter, and she found out that the Auckland City Council will not allow her to keep chickens, but she is allowed to keep a goat!
    That's just stupid, if you ask me. I don't know much about goats, but it seems to me chickens would be quieter and less destructive! Plus, I also object to the fact that it is an unnecessary restriction on freedom to live the way we choose in a country that boasts freedom.
    Rachel from NZ

  2. Hi Rhonda
    As far as I know we can do whatever we want in our garden here in the UK (although you might push your luck a bit of you started mowing the lawn naked). You would need planning permission for something like solar panels or wind turbines. The council actively encourages recycling and rubbish is slplit in black bin (actual rubbish)green bin (cardboard, paper tins etc) Food waste which is recycled centrally, garden collection which is made into compost, bottle & glass collection. You can also claim a free composter from the council and a discounted water butt from the county council. I cant ever remember feeling good about our local council before but maybe they aren't so bad. I dont think they would get away with a no line drying rule here anyway as its the preferred option of most brits. Tumble dryers tend to be a last resort!
    The odd rant is good for you, it is what changes the world!

  3. Here in Seattle (Washington), chickens are generally allowed by not roosters (for obvious noise issues, I think.) Rain-water collection is technically not allowed/you need a permit but no one enforces that on homeowners with rain barrels. The problems start when places like a local nursery start building HUGE underground tanks to collect water. It's good for them, but local plants and animals (and people) do rely on groundwater to replenish streams, etc. Where I live, we're allowed to hang clothes out to dry, as long as no one can see it (so put it in the backyard.) HOA rules- I guess they want a tidy appearance. I can see the value in these rules- I don't think personal freedoms should be allowed to seriously encroach on those around us. Just a few thoughts from the Pacific Northwest :)

  4. Sadly in a lot of the newer housing developments, they have tons of rules (covenants enforced by the Homeowners Association). You are supposed to read those and agree to them before purchasing the property. I for one wouldn't live in one that didn't allow line drying or gardens, etc...

  5. As 'i wonder woman' said, I think all of those regulations are for the sake of appearances (& possibly smell issues with the chickens). Personally, I love the look of a rain tank, I think my chook girls look incredibly decorative (& don't smell) and while the clothesline is not high on my list of decorative items, it usefulness justifies its existence (ours is one that can be collapsed against the wall when not in use which I think is better than taking up a huge amount of space in the yard). I don't see that what any person does in their own yard impinges on the personal freedom of anyone else! I don't really like the huge pool taking up all of my neighbour's backyard, but I accept it.

    In the original comment inspiring this post, I'm assuming that the rainwater harvesting is illegal under a state law, but the other two issues are just rules for their housing estate. In which case, they could be changed by getting enough other homeowners to vote together & change the rules.

  6. Back to add: my Council (in NSW)requires a rainwater tank be included in any new house, & I think you have to add one before they will approve major renovations as well. They permit chickens & other poultry, but I think from memory that you need to get approval to have a rooster (we didn't want a rooster, so didn't look to deeply at that one).

    I think BASIX requirements for new houses also mean that new houses all come with tanks now.

  7. Hi Rhonda,
    I agree with you. In this day with higher prices and poorer quality food avalible at the stores, we should be able to be more self sufficient. But there are people out there who don't want to, who don't see the value in it, and it seems like they are able to controle the rules in some places.
    We have to be diligent not to loose our rights to live like we want to.

  8. You go girl. As someone else said, I wouldn't live in a housing neighborhood where they had those stupid rules. Why would you buy and house and land where someone else could tell you how and what to landscape/fence/garden etc?! Anyway, I thought you hit the nail on the head with this one statement, "Regulations like these make residents dependent on their regulators..." That's the key and the noose has been getting tighter and tighter here in the US.

  9. Definitely not only in the USA, Rhonda -- most of the newer developments in Perth W.A. will not allow such things as chickens, and an apartment I lived in there did not allow a balcony clothesline.

    Where I live in the US now, I am not sure we are allowed chickens but I have almost 4 acres and a henhouse mostly constructed, and I don't think anyone is really going to care too much. You are right though, the regulations are crazy.

  10. It might well be a homeowners association rule, it might look "ugly" to have a rainwater collection system. Some HOA's can be ridiculous with the regulations. I'm in NE Oklahoma and it's legal to have a rainwater system. I'm about to put one in myself. Chickens are allowed in some areas, but not actually in most cities.

  11. We are allowed to keep 2 chickens in our yard, and we live in a city of 400,000 people. We are allowed to have a clothesline, however a lot of areas are not allowed to have clothesline in our city. We are allowed water barrels, but we don't have them.

    Gill from Canada

  12. Hear! Hear! Unfortunately, though, the poor lady probably agreed to the terms and conditions before moving in and so would be told that she has no legal recourse. Did you know that even here in sunny Australia most caravan parks and holiday rentals do not allow you to hang washing eg. big, happy beach towels, on railings etc. to dry. In most cases that means they never dry out properly or you have to use the drier daily! Something about aesthetics, I believe.Cherrie

  13. I agree Rhonda, the water rule is totally ridiculous, do they think the water is being stolen!. And if a lot more people stopped using tumbledryers I feel some long term problems could be avoided. Tumble dryers are bad news!and shouldnt be regarded as the norm. Best wishes from France.

  14. I, unfortunately, live where we can not keep any farm animals, including chickens either. We just moved. Our last house, we were not allowed clotheslines either, nor a garden. My house backed a field, so I "snuck" a clothesline at the back of the house, where no one could see it.

    I hadn't thought about not being allowed to collect water. I have to go look that up.

    You are right, these laws make me so upset. I should be allowed to garden, keep chickens, collect water and hang my laundry if I want. The US is not as free as we used to be if you want to live like times past. ::sigh::

  15. Hi Rhonda,
    As another poster said, in the US these are the rules in a lot of new home developements. Not everywhere, though. When you buy a home in one of these developements you know that you are agreeing to these rules.
    It wouldn't be my cup of tea, but many, many people purchase in these areas just for these types of rules. They want a certain "look" to their neighborhood and that doesn't include clotheslines and water collection tanks and chickens. I think some folks want rules to keep neighbors in check.
    It's sad, but it's not necessary to live in those communities. There are plenty of places to live where you can enjoy much more freedom.

  16. I agree that it is crazy. I can't speak for other countries but I know here a lot of people because of avian bird flu became afraid of people keeping chickens. I know that a couple I used to know was in a neighborhood where no one was allowed to paint their house unless some neighborhood committee first approved the color. They were not allowed to hang out washing either because it made the community look "to poor" in their opinion.
    I don't get any of that. I agree with your point that it's no different to hunt and kill wild food than raise chickens for eggs. I don't see anything poor about caring about our earth to conserve rain water or to sun dry clothes. I hope some day things like that will change. Perhaps now that the energy crisis is not possibly to deny some of this silliness will change.
    My own opinion is that we cant really call ourselves civilized until we start showing that we are capable and care enough to take care of this wonderful planet with so many resources that God was so kind to put into our hands.
    To me it just comes down to fear. Fear of sickness, fear that they will not have enough if they don't take from someone else. Fear that people will see the emptiness in them so they act superior to try to make themselves feel better. I think it goes way past the simple surface of sun dried clothes and lovely beautiful animals like your chooks.

  17. nothing like a good old fashioned rant to get my blood boiling. We are allowed to have a clothesline (but can you imagine that I even had to ask?!) but it must be in the back of our house: not on the side and not in the front.

    Chickens? I haven't asked but I can't imagine it would be allowed.

    I could probably get away with collecting rainwater as long as no one decided to call it a swimming pool or a pond because those things would require strict permits and fences and such. I could see a pesky neighbor trying to pull something like that.

    I live in a place in which nearly all of my neighbors hire people to "landscape" their tiny (much much much less than an acre) plots of grass and bushes. The noise pollution when those landscaping trucks roll in with their gas-powered trimmers and mowers makes me wonder why I agreed to pay high taxes to live in a "quiet" neighborhood.

    There was a man on the news here recently whose town brought him to court for composting! This is the kind of thing that needs to be done carefully here because our yards touch one another's I can see how if not done correctly there is the potential for odor and rodents but c'mon! Anyway, the judge congratulated him for composting and the man and his town came to some kind of compromise - I believe an enclosed bin.

    That is life in suburbia. Thanks for letting me add to your rant.

  18. Apparently it's perfectly acceptable for a Home Owners' Association to stop you from doing anything sustainable, but if a city council tries to do the right thing it's (gasp) government interference... see the post here!

  19. I've done some checking and found that Colorado state law prohibits "harvesting" of rainwater but in most cases you can direct your rain gutters to an area that requires water. You just can't collect it legally. The law is not new and goes back to the 1850's - something about "prior appropriation". First come, first served sort of thing.

  20. When we first wanted to put in water tanks, about twenty years ago, it was illegal here in Wollongong.

    Times have changed and now not only can you put in water tanks, you attract a rebate for doing so! We put in three eight years ago when we were finally permitted although it was prior to the rebate.

  21. In the UK most gardens, especially in new houses, are so small that it would be impractical to have chickens. I think all 5 of the houses I have lived in forbade the 'keeping of livestock' in the title deeds. It's thought that keeping chickens encourages other vermin (foxes, rats) and since we have more rats than people in the UK, so they say, and urban foxes have become a real pest shredding refuse bags (no wheelie bins here) I can see the point of the rules. Although I do compost everything I can,I am not allowed to have a bonfire to get rid of brambles and seeding weeds because I live too near a row of 'protected' trees - from which local ragamuffins throw apples at our homes every autumn! We have to pay 60p a bag to have weeds and thorns disposed of - straight into landfill.

  22. Hi Rhonda,
    "18 Apr 2008 ... Ontario residents can now hang their clothes and linens out to dry after the premier lifted the ban on outdoor clotheslines on Friday."
    Here in the province of Ontario in Canada it was against the law in many communities to line dry clothes. But with governments encouraging all of us to save energy they were forced to change this law. Hooray!!!

  23. I totally agree with you. Rant as loud as you can! If we live in a society where the local or state government can forcibly buy your property from you if they wish to build a freeway, for example, and make you spend tens of thousands of dollars to make the road if they so choose (tar a gravel road that is) then why are we not given incentives or have it made manditory to install some sort of rainwater tank? Now as each year goes by in our region it's getting dryer and the dams get lower and lower but they seem to be waiting until it gets critical before increasing restrictions.

    Regulations sometimes aren't based on common sense. And over time they change so they won't always stay that way. When we moved to our 1.25 acres you could keep chickens. Then you could only keep four. Now you can only keep four animals total of any description as long as they're not a designated farm animal. And don't get me started on trees. Because they re-zoned the region according to landslip risk we're now not even allowed to cut down a dead one! (Even though we've planted seven trees this year, and this is a high bushfire area!)

    Regards, Marilyn

  24. Some of those laws exist in Australia as well. Not the line drying but the rainwater tanks and chickens. It's up to individual councils. I agree that it just doesn't make any sense. :(

  25. We bought an acre lot and it has rules about no chickens, horse are ok, but no chickens. I'm bummed because that was part of the reason for having so muchland. But I do understand a little about roosters making noise. Our neighbors have a basset hound that never stops howling, yet that dog is allowed.

  26. Good on you Rhonda!!!! That's what I like about you, you speak your mind. I couldn't imagine a yard with no line,chooks or water tank.Since I have been reading your blog my eyes have been opened to so many things. Thanks for the rant.

  27. Back when we were young and foolish (or about five years ago) we were hip and happening D.I.N.K.s (double income no kids).
    We bought our cookie cutter house in our cookie cutter neighborhood.
    Now that I am a crunchy mama to five I want nothing more than to tend my little garden, raise a few goats, chickens and cows, and sleep on sun kissed sheets.
    We chose the neighborhood with the homeowners association and all of its rules. Now we are choosing to get out! In the next two years, Lord willing.
    Until then, I learn from my little box garded hidden in the back yard, read as much as I can about homesteading, and glean wisdom from wise people such as yourself. :)

  28. 'No clothes line' rules also exist in some (most??) private flats in UK. A friend who lived in such a flat would put her clothes on a clothes horse (rack) on her patio, but that was also against her lease conditions however since no one complained she got away with it. She now has a house and loves 'pegging out' her wash.

    Council flats sometimes come with shared clothes lines. My elderly great aunt technically had access to the communal clothes lines on the roof of her tower block (high rise), but since she was scared of lifts (elevators) and the lift stopped 2 floors short of the roof she did not use the lines. The roof had very high walls around it so the washing would not blow away and could not be seen from the ground.

    Birmingham UK

  29. My husband and I were just driving home from a date and decided to take a detour through a ritzy subdivision. I was telling him that they are not allowed to have clotheslines, fences, and the like. No living there for us!

  30. I know of some subdivisions in town that have so much control over the houses that I wonder how people can live there. They want perfectly groomed and look alike houses to be seen as people drive by.

  31. Oh, I'm so sorry to have upset you! As someone pointed out - I did know about the chickens & the clothesline when I bought the house. We just purchased this past Feb. & honestly I just wasn't as aware then as I am now. I am taking "baby steps" with the simple living process and will definitely pay more attention with the next house I buy. For now, I am here and can't really sell because the housing market is too bad, but we plan to leave this neighborhood when my daughter finishes school in four years. Until then, I can bake bread, watch my pennies (and dollars), knit, sew and put in a square foot garden. Also, we only have a bit of grass in the front & set an example for our neighbors by buying an old fashioned reel mower!

  32. Hello from Michigan. My hubby and I have had many conversations on these very topics. We have many subdivisions around us with these deed restrictions. A couple go so far that you can't even leave your garage door up if you're not driving in or out of the garage.

    A couple of thoughts: 1st) i love your statement on our gun rights but lack of property rights. I am a pro 2nd amendment U.S. citizen but the land rights here in the U.S. many times are socialistic and not democratic but I'm not getting into politics. 2nd) water rights. In Michigan we fight to keep the other parched states from trying to take our water. The 8 states and 2 Canadian provinces have come to a water compact of water withdrawals. 3rd) chickens-i just checked my local township zoning ordinance and we can't have any farm animals on land under 2 acres. 4th) restrictions on line drying wash? how do governments expect to increase population density and at the same time expect you to reduce your carbon footprint and electricity usage???

    The city of Ann Arbor, the most liberal city in Michigan, has recently been battling the right to backyard chickens and landowner rights http://blog.mlive.com/annarbornews/2008/06/let_us_help_you_hatch_a_plan_t.html.

    I guarantee you that I will be on the phone with my elected township officials this week on my right to keeping backyard chickens.

    As always keep up the good work!

  33. This is amazing in our town we are allowed chooks but not roosters. Yet dogs make more noise than roosters. We walk quite a lot around town and we never hear roosters only barking dogs. I agree totally with what you are saying. If a fair percentage of the population is trying to help themselves by growing vegies using less power harvesting what rainfall we can get etc I really wonder what would happen if we all stopped. Would our society be able to cope with EVERYONE relying on somebody else to provide these services. What next, not being able to bake our own bread because we might put bakers out of business.Anyway I hope everyone has a great day feeding the chickens line drying washing and using some of that rainwater to make a great cup of tea.

  34. Hi Rhonda,

    There are areas here in Ontario Canada where you are not allowed clotheslines, and almost all suburban areas ban farm animals.

    I have never heard anything about gathering rainwater though, that's a new one on me.

  35. Backyard chickens is a hot issue this election cycle. Two of our mayoral candidates have "illegal" chickens (and another, an "illegal" pot-bellied pig). Our chickens (and guineas) are legal since we're on more than an acre in a semi-rural area of large lots.

    However, one of the things that got me riled up enough to run for office is that the incumbent council ok'd 75 four-bedroom houses on less than 4 acres right across the street from us. The houses haven't been built yet, due to the slumping market, but once they do they will have strict rules: no room for on-street parking or driveways - cars must be inside the two-car garage, so if a teen has a 3rd car, it must be stored off-site, one dog less than 20 pounds allowed, no clotheslines or gardens, the three-story houses have a 5' cement yard - just big enough for a little grill and table or a dog run. The front yards are association-maintained landscaping. I'm worried that the people moving into such a development will then complain about our chickens and clothesline ruining "their" neighborhood.

  36. I've just moved into Casey's in inherited house, which is unfortunately in one of those blasted developments. We've got a half of an acre, and when we went in to the city hall, we were told that we were in a "high density zone", and no chickens were allowed. Well, I looked at the city's zoning codes, and "low density" is defined as having between 3 and 6 houses per acre.... you do the math.

    Of course I still need to go into city hall and look at the zoning map (because even in "low density" you can't have any chickens unless you have an acre of land), but I get the feeling that they don't enforce the zone codes for the developers. I'm kind of disinclined to obey them myself.

    What really gets me is that the city less then 5 minutes away lets you keep 3 hens- why can't Lacey do the same?

  37. And that, my friends, is the sound of one more cog breaking in the wheels of socialism!

    Well-written and very refreshing!

  38. You know, the trouble is that 'we' are the ones that make the rules...someone has to like to be in the cookie cutter mold in order for so many of those developments to be around! So it naturally follows that 'we' should be able to get those regulations changed, too.

  39. OMG what is the world coming to??!!! LOOKS - IT'S ALL ABOUT THE LOOKS. I am with you Rhonda, absolutely dumbfounded that society thinks this way. And you made such a GOOD point about keeping a gun but not chooks... Do the politicians or whoever is in charge not see how ludicrous this is? {shaking head still} Tamara

  40. Oh Rhonda Jean, how true how true..I had to share that just the other day A~ was out in the back hanging clothes on our line when she heard a couple of neighbor ladies walking by outside the fence. They started talking having this conversation. "Oh I feel bad for them...I think they're having money troubles..." "Why?" "Didn't you see? She has to hang their clothes up to dry..."
    What ignorant people. I actually had a woman down the street tell me a little while back that she would love to grow some food plants in her yard but her husband feels like growing food plants is "White Trash"!! Now I'm not only poor, I guess I'm poor white trash!
    Good Post Rhonda

  41. In response to Lizzie in the UK (2nd comment), you can mow your lawn naked if you wish. In England and Wales (not too sure about Scotland as Steve Gough seems to be still getting arrested for not wearing clothes up there) you can be naked and do things naked as long as you are not setting out to be offensive.

    The aforementioned Steve Gough walked the length of England naked, we have been to an open garden where the gardeners were gardening naked, so being naked isn't pushing luck at all. :)

    I agree with the rest of what Lizzie says, Rhonda, when I first read about places in the US not allowing line drying I was quite surprised. Even the people across the road from me who are *so* not into conserving resources hang their clothes out! There may well be some kind of guidelines or laws about roosters in urban areas which seems quite sensible to me, but you can do pretty much what you like in your own garden.

  42. Rhonda, I think until recently it was illegal to collect rainwater in Sydney. They were afraid it would have poisonous pollution and people would drink it. Thank goodness they have changed that one.

  43. Hi Mara
    We are from Eastleigh Borough, home of Steve Gough, the naked rambler! I just hope they dont make it compulsary! I dont know many people that don't look consierably better with there clothes on, and that before you start worrying about the insect bites!!!

  44. Wow, I''m amazed by some of these rules! When I look out from my balcony, I see almost everybody has a clothes line. Not everybody uses it for all their washing, but it's there and I'm pretty sure there are no rules forbidding to do so. I looked through the city regulations and found nothing on chickens, but keeping them here is really asking for trouble. The yards are too small and nobody does it, so if you're the first I'm pretty sure a lot of neighbours will complain because of noise or attracting rats and/or pigeons. I do know some HOA have crazy rules though, but that's made up withing their own board and members, not by the government, so they can basically put in whatever they want.

    Christine from the NL

  45. I believe that it wasn't legal to harvest rainwater in Brisbane until the current drought and water restrictions started too? As han_ysic said, I believe it was because of a concern about the water collected being polluted. Thankfully that was changed, and now water tanks are required on all new houses.

  46. Well, I'm breaking regulations by keeping my chickens in the back garden (ours is an ex-Council house where the only animals we are allowed are "cats, dogs and budgerigars"). I wonder about all those pet hamsters, rabbits and so on. No one has complained about our hens - we don't keep a cockerel.

    I have heard of some very new housing where they had regs against line drying but I think those are quite rare in the UK.

    As for collecting rainwater, we're facing a different problem. Too much badly thought out development and gardens being covered with paving of one kind or another, means that the drainage systems can't cope in some areas. We're seeing more and more flooding. If people collected some rainwater it might alleviate the problems.

  47. Rhonda,

    I live in the US(vermont) and have never been told we couldn't have chickens or gardens or collect rainwater. Maybe the person you quoted lived in a housing development where the designers of the development (rather than the government) made rules. I think that's very silly. However, in a housing development sometimes there are chemicals sprayed that would make it dangerous to have gardens or chickens (and also to live there!) Just a thought. =)

    By the way, I love your blog. I don't know if I've commented before, but your blog is my favorite!


  48. Its quite common in the UK to have a caveat in your deeds forbidding you keeping hens in a garden. They can also forbid storage of caravans in a garden as well.

    If you live in a village it is not unknown for neighbours to complain about the nose from poultry and also the ringing of Church bells!!

    I kept chicken in our garden for many years, they were in an ark which we moved every second day to a new par of the garden, that way they got a new area to forage in and amnured the gound for me as they went along.

    We do not have the facility to dry clothes outside here in the apartments, it drives me potty, we are using dryers that use a vast amount of electricity to dry something that would dry very well outside.

    We do not have a problem with water barrels.

    We are not allowed to have chickens on the allotments either, I would have several if we could.

  49. I mentioned before that I was shocked to learn CO residents weren't allowed to collect rainwater. I saw that mentioned in Back Home Magazine, but no explanation as to why was given. It's ridiculous!

    We used to live in a HOA community here in FL. They are the norm now, especially all new developments that are built. People here are very picky and want all the rules and regulations so everything is aesthetically pleasing. Hmph! We stayed there 4 years and I was dreadfully unhappy. No clotheslines allowed, no animals (although that was city regulation), etc. We couldn't even garden safely there as we we had city mandated reclaimed water for our sprinklers and it did not go through a good enough purification process that made it safe to use on anything edible to be grown. I had several professionals (nursery, etc.) warn me about that.

    The majority of folks in my area of FL would not even be able to have chickens (city rules). We thankfully live in an agriculturally zoned area and pretty much anything goes, with the exception of pigs ... I believe we are limited to a total of 7. The town just to our north is also agriculturally zoned, but has far stricter rules (one is they are only allowed one grazing animal for the first acre of land and 1 for every half acre after that). Most homes in that town are only able to have 1 grazing animal as the lots are all in the 1.25 to 1.33 acre range.

  50. Home Owner's Assoc. rules can seem ridiculous and yet they still chose to live there so there must be a benefit. If you really can't have a clothesline then string lines up in your basement to hang cloths on or get a drying rack and put it in your bathroom. We have an underground cistern to collect rainwater, pretty as could be with and small pump at the top surrounded in flowers. Most urban neighborhoods won't allow any type of farm animal so why not barter with someone who does have chickens. I think there is a big trade off for living in a city, maybe you can't have chickens but you can walk or bike everywhere. If you live in a rural area sure you can have chickens but you have to get in a car to go everywhere. Different types of freedom. I have learned there is no sense focusing on what you can't do, that is just an excuse to not move forward. There is always a way to live the life you want! Be more creative! Also, if you find your values to be out of alignment with where you live it may be time to move. The important thing is not to get stuck, keep moving in the direction of your dreams.
    As for the gun laws in the US, it seems to me the laws aren't so much our problem but our culture that is obsessed with violence. A very complicated problem and one that has often made me want to move to Australia.
    Linda from the US

  51. Haven't even finished reading today's post and had to comment...it's called welcome to America, land of the free unless you live in a decent neighborhood. My mom can't hang a clothesline either, and her neighborhood ain't even that great! I'm creating a list of things I'm looking for in a rental house (like ability to plant veggies and hang clotheslines), so that I hopefully will avoid these inconveniences.

  52. I also live in a city which does not allow chickens or other farm animals - although they do allow pot-bellied pigs. I do not understand the logic behind this. A pot-bellied pig is a pig and the last time I checked pigs are farm animals and this breed can weigh up to 300 pounds.

    We also have a home-owner's association, but thankfully they forgot to add clotheslines to the list of things they do not allow. I have only counted two in my neighborhood and one is mine. Once, when I was hanging out my wash, I overheard a lady visiting the neighbor behind me ask her if she was bothered by my clothesline. Thankfully, my neighbor said no. But, to most people around here, a clothes dryer is a sign of affluence and a clothesline is a sign of poverty. This does seem to be changing though. Recently, an op-ed piece was published in the Chicago Tribune written by a woman in one of our suburbs. In it she wrote about her "discovery" that a clothesline saves a lot of money and how hanging out her wash is fun. I think changes will come as the economy gets worse, but the change will be slow.

  53. Unfortunately those rules are pretty common here in the U.S. from what I gather. Where we live, the restrictions come from the HOA rather than the state--my husband bought this house before I moved back to Florida to be with him, and before we realized the direction we would eventually want to take with trying to be more self-sufficient. We have a privacy fence around our back yard, so as long as the neighbors can't see it from the street we can have a garden, a rain barrel, and a clothesline back there. No chickens though--not sure if that rule comes from the HOA or the city, but they're not allowed here. When we move--hopefully in a few years--the goal is not to build a bigger, fancier house, but to find a place where we can have chickens and space for a larger garden. Right now, though, with the housing market the way it is, the best thing to do is stay put, work on paying down this mortgage, and do the best we can with what we have.


  54. I am back - I just remembered another example of the ridiculous rules we have here. A couple of months ago, I saw a rabbit was at our city run animal shelter and available for adoption. I had a rabbit as a kid and my kids have wanted one. Plus, since I can't have chickens, I thought "fertilizer!"

    Anyway, I stopped in to see the rabbit and found out they would not adopt it to me because I would keep it out back in a hutch not in the house! (We have a dog, so keeping it in the house is out of the question.) This rabbit was found loose in a neighborhood. They have no idea whether it was a house rabbit or hutch raised. It had been in the shelter for four months and instead of letting someone adopt it who would care for it, they are keeping it there. Unbelievable!

  55. Everytime I hear someone's dog barking non-stop I think 'How is that legal, but my quiet chickens are illegal in some places?' Thank God they're legal for me. I couldn't give up my basic rights!! How can you be asked to give up your clothesline?? Ridiculous!! Gen--IL Homesteader

  56. Hmmm, I rent, so I'm not sure what my state laws are regarding rain barrels. As for the HOA rules - well, if I ever get the opportunity to purchase a home, you can be sure it won't be one with an HOA that limits what I can do with / on my own property.

  57. As another commentor from Ontario said, our Premier lifted the ban against clotheslines back in the spring. Yeah!

    Also, I see lots of rainbarrels and we have one ourselves (haven't needed it though since we have so much rain this summer). Alas, I can't keep chickens here in my city but maybe the Premier will ban that restriction, too.

  58. Ooooo your blog really touched a nerve yesterday. So many comments.
    We are allowed water butts, chickens and round clothes lines but not long lines. We are also allowed to grow vegtables but not plant anything higher then our back fence ( about 2mts) so not giant veg for me.


  59. Hi Rhonda,

    Where I grew up in Oregon, USA they didn't allow you to have chickens in the city. My parents tried to keep chickens and were fined and forced to get rid of them. We didn't even have roosters just 3 hens - so they didn't bother anyone. The neighbors complained though. We also had to get rid of our rabits. They were only in our yard, which was fenced -- so I don't know how that was anyone else's business. They were pets. Now I live in a small town in Idaho, USA. And they allow you to have chickens in the city limits. My husband and I live on the edge of the city, and we own a little over an acre. When we bought the property we were told that the pasture has been home to a lot of cows, and other animals -- and we've been assured that we can have anything we like on our property. However, my rear neighbors are complaining about our chickens. ( they would complain about anything ) And she is threatening to take action. I don't know what she could do to us for having chickens -- but I thought I would tell you our story. I think our neighbors have no life if they can't leave us be. I try to be a good neighbor and I've always been kind when speaking to them. But its frustrating when you are being cursed at for trying to be self-sustained. She also doesn't like our two dogs - for what reason I don't know. They don't bark, they are sweet girls. And they are fenced in our yard, and never once have crossed the fence to their yard. I guess some people are never happy.

  60. I live in Oregon, USA. We can't have chickens. The biggest city in Oregon allows 2 or 3 I believe but not our little town...only the dogs that poop in our lawns and bark incessantly. I'm the crazy lady around who would love to have a goat and some chickens...but was dumb enough to buy a house with a large, fenced lot..in town. The restrictions on our properties just keep growing..they came in and whacked away at my tree's last week saying they were too close to a power line...that they were no where near and knocked over shrubs while they were at it...and all one can do is watch and comply.

  61. McMancunians are big where I live. They take old farm land and put dozens of large houses on small lots. Then they enforce rules like no chickens, clothes lines or rain barrels. It's all aesthetics, many people want the pristine uniformity that money can buy and they don't want anything that could imply else wise. It's so rampant that even older neighborhoods are trying to implement these rules. It breaks my heart.

  62. Rhonda, that article is from my new (and old) city of Seattle! I was amazed and shocked to learn about this a few weeks ago. With the amount of rain we have, and with most of our drinking water coming from snow melt the mountains (NOT the runoff), I don't understand. It's an antiquated rule, I suppose. Fortunately I've never seen it enforced!

    Our city does, however, allow chickens. And guns, too, but chickens are far less harmful in society!

    Interestingly, according to my lease I am technically not allowed to have window boxes - and certainly no fire escape garden. But I have both, and they improve the look of the building, so so far the management company has been just fine with it! I'm sure that Joanna could show with her garden just how beautiful edible ornamentals can be. It might be a very effective way of changing the rules!

  63. I'd heard that bit as well - re in some parts of America one isnt allowed to collect rainwater. I cant even think why such a daft regulation would be in place (I suppose one could get round that to some extent by "just happening" to have a collection of large portable trugs out every time it rains by sheer coincidence). The linedrying one seems excessive too - as I wouldnt have thought people would have washing hanging out as a permanent feature. To me - the only input from the State (at any level) about what one has in one's garden is if it creates noise disturbance for neighbours (so I gather its okay to keep chickens - but not cockerels) or if it litters the neighbourhood up (I am thinking of a nearby garden which regularly has things like chucked-out household machinery/piles of bricks/etc in it). Provided one doesnt do anything that will disturb the neighbours' peace and quiet or "visual amenity" - then its your own business what you do in your garden.


    (in Britain)

  64. I lived in a flat in the States, and the regulations were so strict that they told you what colour and style curtains you could have, so the building presented a uniform appearance. You also could not park a car on the premises that was older than 10 years. Needless to say, I moved out of there as soon as possible!


    Anna Marie of the bread

  65. In the US, most regulations are all because of the all mighty dollar. Collect water -- then the water company can't charge you. Dry your clothes -- electric and/gas company don't make money off you. No farm animals of any kind in the city limits period. Always been that way here. You have to get out of the city limits, and even then you're not safe because if the city decides it wants more tax money, they keep annexing land into the city limits.

    A bunch of yuppies started buying land closer and closer to the farming community -- high dollar houses being put up. Now the yuppies are in court wanting the farms (which are right outside the city limits) to get rid of their pigs, cows, chickens. Reason? The farm animals semll and make noises and are dragging down the price of the houses of the yuppy puppies.

    I just want to go and slap all of them. Like they didn't know they were building this mcmansions right next door to a working farm. Just another example of how a select few bulldoze their way of life onto everyone else.

    And this one for you Rhonda Jean -- you said guns and chickens were related as in hunting for food -- well, in the U.S. those guns are not meant to hunt food, they're to turn on other people. In my State we are now allowed to own automatic and semi-automatic weapons. Never saw anyone hunting food with weapons of that size.

  66. Hi Rhonda,
    Love your blog! Scrolling through comments I see a theme. Here in the US it's frightening the number of people that live in neighborhoods with such rules. Our goverment regulates water and food and then tells us its illegal to provide these things for ourselves. Hmmm, they have total control over the people's basic needs. Thankfully we live on some acreage that is zoned for agricultural use. We can freely grow food, raising chickens, collect rain, and hang out wash.

  67. Since the drought in the South East Queensland area has been so serious, for so long, not only are we encouraged to have rain water tanks, but the council and state government paid for ours entirely.
    I think the rules behind not allowing rainwater tanks in the past was that the water from the roof probably includes fecal matter from birds (and fruit bats) and as such, may be unfit for human consumption without treatment. We use it exclusively for outdoor needs. The clothesline? That's all about classism and status. I've seen forums where people have said that clotheslines are tacky and disgusting. Go figure. I don't get it.

  68. Hi Rhonda,

    I agree with you completely; my husband and I have had many similar discussions with friends and acquaintances over the years, and I must say I still don't understand the widespread resistance to what I see as just common sense!

    I've only just found your blog and I love it .... hope you don't mind me linking to it from mine. Now I'm off to explore it a little more....

    All the best,

  69. I live in Colorado and have known for a long time 30+ years about some of the neighborhood silly rules. But I have gotten around the rain thing. No I do not have a big rain barrel( my husband doe not want to bail me out of jail). i collect all the water from showers and baths to water plants and when it does rain I put out buckets big ones to catch what I can. My husband has also redirected the rain from the gutters to the garden. all the above seems to meet our needs and thus far has kept my water bill down and even more important my usage down. I can't have chickens in this neighborhood but I am the one with a clothes line. I love being different.

  70. Nope in VA where I live chickens are NOT allowed. I called each surrounding area and was told NO CHICKENS. I asked...what size lot do I need to have in order for chickens to be allowed in my backyard. I figured if I had 2 acres or larger they would be okay. NOPE, never allowed. Now I know some of the farms in the rural areas have chickens.

    They are worried someone might have to listen to the occasional cluck!

  71. This is a beautiful post, Rhonda. I've been very busy in life lately (looking forward to a slow winter of reading and knitting/crafting!), but do read a few groups of your posts every now and then and find much inspiration and many great ideas within them. I am terribly sorry to hear about your dog, especially since I had logged in to ask you a relatively unimportant question, which I will ask here now anyway, assuming in your sage wisom you will have the answer: Can you freeze hummus? Any advice you can give me would be very greatly appreciated.

    One more note on that article: Yes, the U.S. is for some reason growing increasingly more restrictive. I have heard of these "neighborhood associations" that don't even allow you to fly the AMERICAN FLAG, etc. What I can't stand are how many farmlands are destroyed for these ugly upper middle class suburban cookie-cutter developments where all the "home and yard" work is contracted out to specialists and the people are never home; or if they are, they're constantly zoned out in front of electronic devices. very, very sad. it's rare to even see children playing outside anymore. what are we to do but move to what little true "country" there is left? i don't know, but luckily i have a few years of apartment living yet and don't have to worry about that just now. (i worry anyway, though .... ; /

  72. Hi Rhonda,

    I too have had comments on my blog from time to time from US readers unable to keep chooks or dry their clothes outdoors. Part of the problem I think is a perception that these things are for 'poor people'. In some neighbourhoods folks have wide lawns without the high side or back fences that typify Australian suburbia, so laundry etc is on show, which turns some people off.

    Interestingly, the covenant (dating from the 1930s) at our red house in Melbourne banned corrugated iron structures but many are ignoring that and putting water tanks in anyway. We could keep up to 6 chooks but no roosters.

    The property we are now renting in Adelaide has a big water tank and it is now overflowing. Yayyy! Unfortunately we can't have pets but when we buy here we'll get chooks again.


  73. I know this might sound crazy, but I'm wondering how close the day is when these things will be outright human rights violations. Who gets to have permission to say we can't cup our hands and contain rain to drink? Who gets to say we can't grow what we need to feed our family? Who gets to tell us we can't dry our wet clothes on our own property? It's going to get quite interesting when you have to go underground to perform the most basic of human functions without a "special permit" or sheet of regulations determining how to goose-step just so...

    I'm getting stubborner and stubborner about these things the older I get. Hang the rationale that says you can't be a good neighbor and still self-sustain.

  74. There are areas here in Ontario Canada where you are not allowed clotheslines, and almost all suburban areas ban farm animals.

    I have never heard anything about gathering rainwater though, that's a new one on me.thanks.


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