Monday, 10 June 2013

Ignorance and cowardice alive and kicking in The Vale

What a sad, sad turn of events.  I was having a wonderful day up until the mail arrived, among the letters being one addressed to 'The Occupier' at my address. Said letter is from the District Council and is to inform me that an official complaint has been made about my cockerels'  'excessive' crowing. To say I am upset is a gross understatement; not only because the complaint has been made to the council, but for the following reasons:

-the complainer seems not to know my name, or bother to have found it out to pass on to the council

- the complainer obviously knows where I live and has not had the common decency to come round, see my set up and discuss the whole situation leading to an amicable outcome.

Instead, my hackles have been raised, tears of anger and frustration shed and I am now geared up to fight for my right to keep my poultry in as natural conditions as I can.  I have left a message with the Public Health Officer to return my call, and I am going to invite him here to see me in person so I can put my case to him, and he can see my birds etc in situ.

I have lived here for nearly 16 years now, and have kept cockerels for about 10 years, this is the first complaint I have had against me and my birds.  All my cocks up until now have been rescued/rehomed ones. For many years it has been my ambition to rear some of my own, and my interest lied in rare breeds as most of you will know, so I bought some rare breed hatching eggs from e-bay and hatched them in an incubator.  The breed is Scots Dumpy, a breed I 've wanted for many, many years, both for its Scottish associations and the fact that I would be contributing to keeping such a rare breed going.  I also successfully hatched some very rare breed Shetland ducks. Out of the dozen Dumpy eggs I bought, 7 were successfully hatched.  I lost 2 young ones to predators, leaving 5 birds.  The next few weeks proved that I had 3 cockerels and two hens, at this time, hardly crowing due to their young age. One morning, a woman from the small estate to the side of us warned my husband that there was some disquiet about my cockerels crowing in the mornings; she named no names.  That same morning, I lost one of the cockerels, found dead in the run. Down to 2 cocks and two hens. Badger predation led to the loss of one of the wee hens while I was in hospital, so I now have 2 cocks and 1 hen left. The smaller of the cocks, Donald, has been put into a separate house and run with Janet the hen to see if they will rear some chicks from me, to start my own flock of Dumpies. Geordie, the larger of the cocks stays outside with my two remaining other hens left from the badger attacks - a Lemon Brahma and a Dorking.  I will be getting more hens soon to make up numbers to sell eggs again. 
As you know, I have been very ill, with over 9 weeks in hospital; my husband has been feeding and looking after the animals for me at the moment, until I am well enough to take the full responsibilities back.  We have had other family issues to deal with in this time, and he works full-time and long hours. Over this period, the chickens had taken to roosting in a tree, and were left there due to time and energy constraints of my husband. Obviously, the noise from the crowing was probably louder as the cocks were outside. Now I am back and getting back into things, they are being shut away at night again.  The council enclosed a helpful leaflet from the Poultry Club about cockerels, but I do everything within my ability to keep them properly and without nuisance to anyone else.
In all the years I have been here, I have not complained to any neighbour about noise - strimmers, motorbikes, cars, car alarms, barking dogs etc.  My house is one of a pair of semi-detached ones, at the end of the main street. One side is bordered by a small field where the calves and cows are and the bull occasionally; over the back is open fields leading to woods; third side is a high wooden fence between us and next door, road frontage is about 50 ft or so back from the pavement.  A genuine rural, working village, with my house beside a farm. It is ideal for keeping poultry and other animals, etc.
I'm trying not to get too het up about it due to my present illness and resulting blood pressure, but to say I am disappointed, upset, frustrated and angry is the least of it. I will keep you posted.

I wonder if these same people are ones who get annoyed at the loud and mournful bellowing of the mothers of the young calves who have been taken from them, going on at all times of the day or night - probably as they reach for the milk from the fridge..................


Jo said...

I do feel for you. We had a cockerel for a short while and had complaints from the council - also just addressed to "the occupier". He was very quiet and restrained as cockerels go and it was also winter so it was dark until much later in the morning. But he had to go. At that time, we had two people in the neighbourhood who kept dogs outside all the time. These dogs howled and howled all day and most of the night too but nothing was done about them. I was desperately upset about every aspect of the situation so you have my sympathy.

Quilting Cat said...

I hope you win your case, it is usually incomers who complain about cockerels, I could complain about the dogs next door who start up every time my door bangs or a car turns into the drive, cockerels only crow for a short while in the mornings and its gets later on in the year. Soon villages will be as sanitised as the surburbs if no one makes a stand. Good luck.

Badger said...

It makes my blood boil that we are still confronted by the cowardice and ignorance of people who are offended by the smells and sounds of rural life. It would almost be a comedy cliche if it didn't damage peoples lives by dragging in officaldom.

Breathe deep and know that you are loved


Anonymous said...

I once had someone from the council arrive at my door with a similar complaint about my dog barking. I was very upset, particularly as we had been going through some difficult times, too. No one had spoken to me about it and the very nice and sympathetic lady was unable to disclose who had made the complaint as it was "confidential" so I couldn't discuss it with the complainant or even apologise! It came to nothing and the council agreed with me that in order to get close enough to hear my dog barking the person concerned would have had to climb over our 6 foot high fence. They were either hearing things or someone else's dog. That did not matter to me. I was upset because they didn't have the decency to approach me first, they just sent someone official round. As I said the council official was very pleasant but that was not the point. I hope everything is sorted out satisfactorily for you and that you feel better very soon. Pam

thriftwizard said...

I had the same knockback a few years back. I'd had a little Pekin cockerel you could hardly hear at the other end of my small garden for several years, but sadly his son & heir proved a little louder. As I'm right in the centre of our little town, I felt I had to rehome him, sadly, although the council official who came round was lovely & said there was no problem; this counts as a rural town & poultrykeeping is allowed as long as you don't have an excessive number of cockerels. I'll never know exactly who complained without coming to discuss the situation with me first, but it was horrible feeling suspicious of my hitherto good friends & neighbours.

Norma said...

I'm glad you are taking a stand on this Sarah, and I hope you win, some people must have very sad lives to interfere with others.. Personally I'd rather have a cock crowing to wake me in the morning then an alarm clock.. or car alarms and strimmers like you say.. These are the type that will have kids play out till all hours and music blasting out of the gardens in the summer, not giving a damn about anyone else's enjoyment of the countryside. I can't believe that the sound of a cockerel crowing would make their lives unbearable, what did they expect living in the country. We have two cockerels the younger one has just found his voice and doesn't yet have the full hang of the crow, but the other is a delight to listen to. Don't make yourself ill Sarah but stand up for your rights.

Regards -x-

Simone said...

Try not to worry. x

nilly said...

So sad to read this. Am I the only person to love the sound of a cock crowing in the morning - or any time in fact? (We have a near neighbour with one.)
Good luck!

Hannah B said...

How horrible and cowardly of that person to make a complaint rather than come and talk to you in person.

I got home the other morning and, as I went to put my key in the lock, my next door neighbour, who doesn't usually speak to me (for whatever reason, but thank goodness!)shouted out to me that he had been out in his garden at 11.30 the evening before chasing my cats away from his borders and that they were a bl**dy nuisance.

I was too taken aback to respond to his rudeness so I didn't respond, I just went inside to get ready to go to work.

I'm very aware that there are many people who don't like cats and I'm not someone who would knowingly want to upset anyone so, when I was showered and changed, I went next door and rang the bell. He answered but I asked to talk to his wife, who appeared moments later. I apologised for any inconvenience and offered to get something to deter the cats from coming in their garden (no idea what yet). She followed me out as I was leaving her hallway and said to try not to take what he says too much to heart as he 'is just like that'.
I'm afraid I can't help but take it to heart when people talk to me in the way he did instead of coming over, or leaving a note, so we could talk about it in a civil manner.

The only reason I am telling you is so you can know that I have some idea of how you are feeling about this 'attack'.

I have seen your garden and I'm sure it will all work out fine. The letter will be a standard one and the person coming to see you will be able to see that the complainant is being ridiculous. Who *wouldn't* expect to hear the sound of animals in such a rural area? What about the dawn chorus? Has s/he complained about that?

((((((hugs)))))) Sarah. This too shall pass and all will be well xx

Hardup Hester said...

We have a neighbour who likes to make malicious complaints, I get letters from the council, they threaten legal action, but refuse to visit us, so we are unable to show them that the complaints are just lies, you have my sympathy

Paula said...

Please don't let unreasonable irrational and self entred people get to you! Easier said than done , I know, but have faith in yourself and what you are doing - know that it is good and that many love you for sharing it!