The Hightower Report: Wild About Chickens
Bastrop citizens fight for their right to chicken
Some people complain that their town has gone to the dogs, but Bastrop, Texas, has gone to the chickens – and Bastropians are proud of it.
Well, most Bastropians.
While other cities might boast of their historic sites or cultural offerings, the good folks of this easygoing, free-spirited community have chosen to highlight a flock of feral chickens that has lived for years on (appropriately enough) Farm Street. No one owns these roosters, hens, and chicks – they take care of themselves, eating bugs, clucking contentedly from yard to yard, and yes, crossing the road for no apparent reason.
It's a quirky phenomenon that fits right in with this town of delightfully quirky folks. Three years ago, some of them got the city council to enshrine the quirkiness by designating their area "The Farm Street Historical Chicken Sanctuary" – a proclamation that provides protected status for the flock. Everyone smiled, the chickens clucked, and all was well.
Until this spring, when Beverly Hoskins raised a ruckus in the hen house, figuratively speaking. As owner of several rental houses along Farm Street, she wants the council to consider repealing the proclamation, complaining that "a lot of chicken waste" was being spread by the daily promenade.
The denizens of Farm Street, however, flocked to defend the fowls, asserting that wild chickens are an integral part of "Bastrop culture." One lady who rents one of Hoskins' houses said of the chickens that roost in a tree in her yard: "I welcome them." Another neighbor pointed out: "Hey, the chickens were here first. ... And it is 'Farm Street'!"
The fate of the flock is still up in the air, but the council recently hinted at its sentiments by authorizing some banners on Farm Street telling motorists to slow down, for they're driving through a chicken sanctuary.
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