Thursday, March 17, 2016

HOW TO: Road Tripping with your Kids

First and foremost, having a background in tourism (okay, okay, so really I took a class or two during my graduate program, but still…) your memory and vacation experience starts being determined the minute you start planning it.  Getting into the car is part of the vacation, and needs to be treated as part of the journey and experience, not just the way to get somewhere. 

As a family of six, we have road-tripped for our vacations for over 15 years.  We have, on occasion, been able to fly to our vacation destinations, but usually due to the generosity of our family (aka, parents….).  Flying our family is an expense we cannot afford.  That does not, however, prevent us from taking at least one major family vacation each year.  We have driven from our home in Michigan on trips to Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Indianapolis, St. Louis, MO, Washington DC, Virginia Beach, the Outer Banks in North Carolina, Hilton Head Island in South Carolina and countless trips to Florida.  So with that, I share my tips on how to road trip with your family!

A traditional photo op at the Florida Welcome Center...a fun way to see the growth of the's just a sampling!

Plan Your Route

It seems so simple, and yet, at this day in age, how many people rely on Mapquest, Siri or a GPS to get them where they need to go?  It is important that you read a map and plan the route that makes sense for you.  In the case of our family, it can be as simple as which bypasses to take around major cities, or if there is a special landmark or family member slightly off the route, that is worth the extra travel time to work into the trip.   For example, we like to drive through downtown Atlanta, you can see the skyscrapers (which is quite a novelty for kids from a relatively small town!),  but you can also see the torch in Centennial Olympic Park (really cool in the dark!). Take a side trip and get off the expressway to explore the park for 20-30 minutes and let the kids run around, or just drive by and point it out. You’ll also see the famous Varsity drive-in, featured on several Food Network specials.  Both the bypass and the downtown routes can be horrendous during rush hour, so that’s where the planning comes in – one well timed meal can mean the difference between cruising right along, or being ready to eat your young in stop-and-go traffic.

Make/have a plan for emergency services, road assistance, and traffic.  Smartphones are helpful if you find yourself stuck in traffic.  You can find out if it's due to construction or an accident, and ask Siri for an alternate route (this is where that actual map can come in handy, too!).  In addition, if you plan on making road tripping a regular part of vacation, I recommend you invest in some type of roadside assistance program, whether it be OnStar or AAA, or something else.  During our road trips we have had flat tires, dead batteries and needed towing.  You can easily call AAA for immediate assistance, or even send a request through a app on your phone.  Issues will arise.  Plan ahead for how you will deal with them.

Thank goodness for activity bags and plenty of chairs in the auto shop waiting room!

Once the route is mapped out, it is important to determine drive times, your timeline for arriving at your destination, and where, and roughly when, you plan to make stops.  Will you be leaving when you are well rested, and therefore can safely drive for 14 – 15 hours until you need to stop to sleep?  Or will you leave after work, and only be able to drive 5 – 6 hours for a first leg of the journey?  Once you know where you may like to stop, plan for where you can get a restful night’s sleep.  THIS MEANS MAKE HOTEL RESERVATIONS, or arrangements with a family member to stay at their house.  Speaking from experience (and yes, it took us more than one trip to learn this lesson) do NOT plan to get just exit the highway and find a hotel room.  We once ended up in a room with a king-size canopy waterbed, with the canopy being held up through the use of a dismantled wire hanger. And who even knew waterbeds existed in hotels any more.  Or that they even should have. Ever.

Kind of a given, we always book hotels that offer a free breakfast (and really, who doesn’t these days?!)   Now, we tend to lean towards those that offer free HOT breakfast.  Being able to have a protein option available buys a bit more drive time in the car before having to stop for another meal, and cuts down on the snacking in the car, too.

Book a hotel with a pool, especially if your children are younger.  Again, the road trip is part of the TRIP. Trip = vacation.  Take the time to enjoy the hotel and amenities.  In our case, it usually meant that we allowed the children to swim in the morning, which makes them much more tolerable in the car, more likely to nap, and burns off some energy early in the day.  

Arrive at the hotel close to your adult bedtime, but keep the schedule of your kid bedtime while still driving.  We found our kids were more likely to fall asleep closer to their bedtime while driving if we treated it like bedtime.  We ate dinner and drove for awhile.  Then we stop at a rest area for some bedtime routines.  They clean up their space in the car, go to the bathroom, brush their teeth, and even change into pajamas, and it becomes quiet time in the car once we’re driving again.  This did most often mean movie time…a quieter, calm one (my personal favorite was WALL-E…).  Drive until it’s your bedtime, then check into the hotel and kids transfer from the car to the hotel room.  If this is the expectation, and they’re already in pajamas and ready for sleep, it will work.  Maybe not the first night, but, again, we’ve done this for years…the kids know this is the routine, and it works!

Pack ONE overnight bag/container for while you are driving.  This bag has toiletries, a fresh set of clothes (also previously held the kids’ pajamas) and just what you need for the night.  Because we frequently vacation in warm destinations, we also have a swim bag that can be toted in for the use of the hotel pool.  While everyone has a suitcase for the duration of the vacation, while we are road tripping, ONE bag is all you want to have to unload and tote into the hotel overnight.

As our kids have aged, we have opted for the “drive straight thru” plan.  When kids are younger, they need you during their waking hours.  They can self-entertain, but not for hours at a time.  They need referees and assistance.  That’s where stopping at hotels and keeping to your usual bedtime routine, as well as theirs, is a necessity.  However, now that the kids are older, we have managed to make trips to Florida in 22-24 hour drives, with no stops for sleeping.  When we arrive at our destination, kids can settle in, self entertain, unpack, relax, even hit a resort food area unassisted, while we sleep for a few hours (not too long, or you’ll throw off your whole sleep schedule).  We’ll typically leave home at 4 – 5pm, getting us to our destination in the late afternoon the next day.  We can check in, unpack and sleep for 3 hours, be ready for a family dinner, and still go to bed at the same time (if not a little earlier!) and be ready for the rest of the vacation.  When kids were little, we’d often spend two nights at hotels while on this same route.  Now, we do it all at once!

Packing what you need, and what they want…

See above – pack that ‘overnight’ bag, and put it somewhere easily accessible in the vehicle.

When we started road tripping ,we had one small infant and borrowed my mom’s Pontiac Bonneville to drive to Florida (cause Lord knows, we didn’t have a vehicle reliable enough to make it that far). Since that time, we’ve used trucks, minivans and suburbans to get us where we want to go, and we’re up to four large kids.  Each offers different amounts and configurations of seating and packing space.  Plan accordingly for the vehicle you have.  We have used trunks and backseats, rooftop carriers (soft and hard side), and a tailgater with rubbermaid bins.  In the early years, we borrowed items, later we could afford the tailgater with bins and our minivan, and finally, now, we can fit everything inside the car with our Yukon XL (and still see completely out the back window!). You can always rent a vehicle, as well.  Most contracts come with unlimited mileage allowances, you’ll be driving a new or nearly new vehicle, and not putting those miles on your own car (especially important for those that may lease).

When traveling with a rooftop carrier, pack it with the items you won’t need until you reach your destination.  Ain't nobody gots time to climb on top of the car at bedtime to get anything.  When we used the tailgater, one Rubbermaid bin contained the overnight bag, so that when we arrived at the hotel, the item(s) we needed were able to be accessed without opening the back hatch of the van.  We bought a bin that had wheels, so that we could take the entire thing into the hotel, and, we didn’t have to worry about any kind of theft.  

Research what you’ll need not only while traveling, but at your destination.  Does the resort/hotel/condo/rental home offer a crib, if you need it?  If you have to stop, do your sleeping spots have that option.  If not, can you go without packing a pack-and-play, or are you going to want that anyway?  What about strollers (and what size?). We’ve had strollers that accommodate our car seat, a double stroller, and finally just a little umbrella stroller.  We've even been known to pack our high chair, but we always broke it down (because it was a no frills model that could do that!).  Some resort and beach locations have beach towels available, others do not…and since they’re bulky to pack, don’t bring ‘em if you don’t need ‘em!

I spy....a portable high chair, stroller, activity bags, cute kids...and yes, Krispy Kreme donuts.

We typically use a ziploc bag method for packing our clothing.  When the kids were little, their underwear and socks were in one ziploc, and then outfits were folded and rolled together (military style) and tucked into bags.  A pair of sandals and maybe other slip on shoes, and one good pair of walking shoes and they're all set.  Use of the ziplocs, with all extra air squeezed out, allowed for kids to share suitcases.  As the kids have gotten older, they pack themselves, and we’ve graduated to the larger 2-gallon bags, but we still use them.  Space is at a premium when you’re traveling in one vehicle together.

Our most typical vacation accommodation is a timeshare condo.  While there are many, many strong arguments against purchasing a time share, our family is a prime example of how the system works (but that’s a whole ‘nother post…).  Staying in a condo or rental house has many advantages, a primary one being a full kitchen, and typically in-unit laundry.  That being said, most places do not provide some very basic items that you don’t want to have to buy in your top-price destination.  In the early years, we established what we call the “Condo Box”.  It has salt and pepper shakers (just cheap  disposable ones, but they last awhile!), sugar for coffee, Saran Wrap and a few glad ware containers, ziploc bags, a small dish soap and a few dishwasher pods, some laundry detergent. You get the idea.  When the kids were little, it had a cheap set of sippy cups and some cute disposable kid silverware and bibs.  This box is re-stocked before we go, and stored with holiday decorations in the basement,  just ready and waiting for our next vacation when we return home.

Riding in the car can be extremely boring.  Hooray for the invention of in-car entertainment, and, now, ‘devices’, as we call them.  But you can’t just watch movies for 24 hours in the car.  Each child is responsible for packing their own “activity bag” that needs to be kept in their area in the car.  This activity bag is designed for self-entertainment both during the car time, but also early morning hours and other ‘downtimes’ during vacation.  Kids pack books, stuffed animals and action figures, coloring books and crayons, magnadoodles and etcha-sketches, sunglasses, devices and chargers...  It is what THEY want to bring and have.  And the novelty of this is was, for many years, that the kids received gift cards for Christmas that we designated for spring break shopping.  They got to go on a little ‘spree’ to buy some new clothes for the warmer weather, and a few small, new toys that could go in the activity bag.  Being able to explore and play with a new toys makes vacation special, and increases that self-entertainment time.

Shopping spree goodies and condo box items!

If it’s one thing that can ruin a vacation, it's if anyone gets HANGRY.  Snacks are a must, but we keep the drinking to a minimum (cause drinking means stopping to pee…and with four kids, that means having to stop at every rest area, and then a 20 hour drive becomes a 30 hour drive….).  We typically make a trip to the grocery store shortly before departure to let the kids pick some snacks for the trip.  My two older girls are always in charge of the snack container, usually stored on the seat between them.  Snacks are portioned out in small ziplocs (can you sense a theme with our lives…totally ziploc dependent, apparently…) and can be easily handed out to the kids and parents.

Pretzels, nuts, goldfish, apples (cores get thrown away in previously used ziplocs until the next stop….) slim jims offer a nice, portable protein option.  Often, we have kids pack a water bottle as the beverage option.  When we stop for meals, they are able to order something different, otherwise, they get a bottle of water (reusable, that can also go with them to the pool/beach, etc).

You want the kids to be comfortable in the car, so typically we have allowed small travel pillows and blankets, and small stuffed animals.  The invention of the “Pillow Pet” combined some of those items for us! Sleeping in the car can sometimes be difficult, particularly for kids who are no longer using car or booster seats that give them something to rest their head on.  This results in nearly trying to fold themselves in half to find a comfortable position, and/or extremely sore necks.  A year or two ago, I whipped up these travel pillows.  They Velcro around the seat belt and provide a body-pillow-type comfort, giving the kids something to lean against, and include pockets for small music players to be safely tucked in.  There are commercial products, and other travel pillows that might afford the same perks, if you're not handy with a sewing machine.

Make the necessary stops fun, not a rush to get back on the road…

You’ll have to stop for gas, food and bathrooms.  Combine stops if you can.  Each stop costs time, BUT, don’t make that the predominant attitude while stopped.  Just do your best to limit stops.

Stretching your legs at rest stops is a must for everyone.  When the kids were little, it meant running races, twirling or a quick game of tag.

A great opportunity for the whole family while stopped is to geocache.  If you aren’t familiar with it, check it out, and read more about it here.  Geocaching is a ‘treasure-hunting’ activity that can be done with your car GPS, or through an app on your smartphone.  We have a family account and have geocached in many states, on many road trips.  Practice in your hometown before vacation, so everyone in the family learns what to look for.  Buy some small items from the dollar store to trade when you find larger caches.  Nearly every rest area or truck stop we have stopped at has had at least one geocache.  Really.  There are millions across the United States, so take advantage of this cool family activity.

Do not eat every meal in the car.  That gets old…fast.  If you are staying at a hotel during your trip, breakfast in the hotel helps for one sit-down meal.  If you are driving straight thru, try to do one meal as a sit-down.  Timing plays a role in this.  We’ve had sit down breakfast, or sit-down dinners, but typically do drive-thru for lunch.

Eat your meals at restaurants that you don’t have at home.  Vacation means new experiences, and that includes food.  Because we live in a northern state, some of our vacation favorites include Steak & Shake, Sonic, Chik fil A, and Waffle House (yeah, yeah, but those hash browns!) There’s some great apps that tell you what restaurants are coming up at the next exit, we love using those.

If you’re really a foodie, there’s an app that tells you what restaurants on your route have been featured on the Food Network or Travel Channel, etc.   Our family watches a lot of these shows, and have even focused some of our road trips on trying to eat at least one meal a day in one of those restaurants (this is particularly handy when we aren’t on an action-packed Orlando vacation).   It’s fun to check out places we’ve seen on tv, and we have never been disappointed in our meals!

That pretty much sums up my thoughts on what's necessary for road tripping as a family, but I would be remiss if I didn't ask for some input from the 2/3 of my family that join us on these trips….the kids! 

So, here you have it!

From the Kids…

I asked the kids, currently ranging in ages from 16 to 9, what they thought needed to be packed and included as tips and advice for road trips…these are their thoughts:

Things to Pack

Pillows and blankets
Map and GPS
Other activities
Comfortable clothes
Slip off shoes
Barf bags

And their tips and advice – 

If you stop at a rest area,  go even if you don’t have to because you may not get another opportunity for a long time
Be careful about eating gas station food
Try to sleep in the car (child #1) Sleep as much as possible (child #2)
Run around at rest areas
If you feel like you’re going to throw up, tell someone “stop”, because if you do it in the car, it will stink for weeks.
Don’t just eat McDonalds 
Find ways to enjoy the ride, not just the destination
Know where rest places are

And last but not least, 

But most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Much of this is golden….far too many based on actual experience *cough, cough* barf bags *cough, cough*…. But hey, vacations are about making memories…all types of memories!

Don't be afraid of the car – travel near and far – but, most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

KQOTD - Christmas vacation

there's nothing quite like a week or two home with the kidlets.   and Christmas time always brings out the best of our family.

they are giving.

they embrace the spirit of Christmas wholeheartedly.

and they get punchy.  

so, some KQOTD from our Christmas vacation ....

#1 - while opening gifts.  maya gets up to distribute a gift...
maya - "lilly gave me her gift from her, so I'll give her the gift from me...but it's going to be really anti-climactic."
lilly - "wait...does that mean that mine *was* climactic?" 
maya - "yes"
lilly - "sweet...."

#2 - we opened gifts on New Year's it was a long day.
molly - "what time is it?"
me - "9:57pm"
molly - "so, 10 then?"
lilly - "No, Molly, you can't round up on New Year's Eve."

#3 - the kids were gifted an XBox from grandpa.  after getting it set up in the basement, molly and porter were enjoying many hours of rousing games/playing of minecraft.  during one particular episode, while bundled in pajamas and a blanket on the couch, in true big sister style - 
lilly - "their enjoyment is annoying me."

#4 - and finally, though i'm not quite remembering the circumstances, i think it revolved around cooking or cleaning or having to do something...and perhaps, me being a bit whiny about it....
lilly - "mom, we can't have six kids I this house.  you have to be the adult."

grand re-opening

i'm going to start blogging again.

i think.

lots of people ask me for advice and ideas.  cause there's things i do that they like or appreciate.  and i share those ideas and advice tidbits.  

and then i got to thinking.  maybe i could do that in my blog, too.  for more people to read.

so I'm gonna do it.

and don't worry, i'm sure there will still be some posts about chickens.

and some good ol' fashioned Kid Quotes of the Day.

and vacation tales.

Cara's Creations is re-opening.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

to the editor....again

is every blog post about chickens?  well, maybe...

here's my most reason letter to the editor...well, sort of.  the paper has a 250 word limit (um, who can keep to THAT?) so since they won't publish the entirety of my thoughts and arguments, i'll do it myself.

If you walk into a local farm and garden supply store today, you’ll likely discover displays of small chicken coops and dozens of little fluffy animals waiting for their new homes.  Coops designed for just a few laying hens, and taking up less space than a typical dog kennel.

The benefits of backyard chickens include a providing a healthy, sustainable source of fresh eggs, nitrogen-rich fertilizer, and non-pesticide bug control in your backyard. It also provides opportunities for families to teach their children about sustainability, healthy food sources, and the care and keeping of pets (this includes being able to join organizations like 4-H).
In August and September, 2011, the City of Midland Planning Commission proposed the following Zoning Text Amendment No. 153 that would:
- Allow up to 6 laying hens or ducks, in single-family districts
- Require issuance of a permit by the City of Midland
- Prohibit the sale or advertisement of fresh eggs
- Regulate the construction materials of enclosures
- Prohibit the slaughtering of animals on site
- Prohibit roosters

Zoning Text Amendment No. 153 was put before the City Council of Midland, Michigan in October, 2011. Despite the recommendation of its approval by the Planning Commission, and significant resident support, the Council voted down this amendment.

In the time since this vote, I have exchanged letters back and forth with the City.  I started an online petition that garnered over 150 signatures.  I was interviewed by the Midland Daily News about my efforts.  I started the Backyard Chicken Keepers of Michigan Facebook page, which now has over 800 ‘likes’, with new folks joining every day.  And I started a GoFundMe account that has solicited nearly $100 in donations in just a few days, to help defer some of the costs associated with re-submitting the Petition for Zoning Amendment fees.

The continuing movement in the region, state and nation, is to live a greener lifestyle, and continues to support and promote the keeping of backyard chickens.

Backyard chicken keeping can enhance our community. The concern of ‘bad apples’ can be addressed with the following two quotes:

Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police.
— Albert Einstein

This world of ours... must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

I have petitioned the Planning Commission to re-consider the Zoning Amendment.  And I’m requesting that Midland residents write letters, call the Planning Commission, and show up at Public Hearings.  It will take a landslide of support to sway them.  But I think the time has come. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

the fight continues...

if you're reading this it may be because you read an article today in my local paper...

i hope you're here because you support the chicken cause...and are not being biased by myths and misconceptions...

thank you for taking the time to read...and please help our cause...our fight....our rights...

sign the petition to the City of Midland City Council here!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

shenanigans and friendships

saturday was my birthday.

we've had a crazy weekend traversing the state for all sorts of adventures...

in the middle of it all, I got some text messages from a friend back at home...

first came the message "mission possible!...." followed by a voice text of a 'uniquely' sung version of the mission impossible theme....and this picture.....

and then came the message "don't call the police......"  followed by this picture....

(are you wondering "what the heck??" like I was?????)

and then another message "what r we up to!!?"  and this picture....

oh these sneaky girls!!  by the time i get THIS picture message and a voice text of another unique version of  "happy birthday", Jason figures out that these lovely ladies ARE IN OUR BACKYARD!!!

but I won't be home for another day!!  And she posts the same pictures on Facebook to see who has a guess of their shenanigans.....

well, we returned home today to the most amazing surprises!!

Hanging in our screen room is this handmade cover-up (with my name!) and a priceless card....and....

we recently installed an above-ground pool...a few weeks ago I sent a picture from pinterest to my friend to see if we could build this (vs buying it for $200 from an etsy seller...) 

she said "sure!" and I asked "this week??" and I was met with some resistance in both time and cost (apparently I have no idea how much PVC costs!) so the project was put on hold....


*this* handmade, just for me, new PVC towel pool accessory will be well broken in in this week's 90+ degree temperatures!

amazing friends??!?!  I think so.....

Monday, June 17, 2013


you'll find below, a support document for my petition on related to passing a zoning ordinance change...

I encourage you to read it - whether you are for or against backyard chickens - and if you are a resident of the City of Midland, take some time to sign the petition if you support the change...and pass it along to every other resident you know!  thank you!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

viva la chicken - the fight continues

so start here ...

then read this ...


a year has passed.  in that time i have followed several chicken ordinance-related cases in other cities throughout the state. i decided it was time to write another letter (and to be honest, i'm not sure why, as it didn't really go well the first time!)

here was the letter i sent last week - this time, to the City Attorney, Mayor, and Director of Planning and Community Development -

Dear Sirs and Madam,

Let me first thank you for your prompt response to my letter dated May 21, 2012, regarding raising chickens and planting a garden at my residence in the City of Midland.

While I understand that your letter represents the position of the City, I find it wholly inadequate that you might fail to recognize and counsel the City Council that such opinions are in direct contrast to stated law, and court precedence. 

While just over a year has passed since I last wrote, several developments have arisen that compelled me to write again, and further address this issue.

First and foremost, I would like to cite a court case, decided in late 2012, that further supports commercial farming in all areas, regardless of zoning.  Several points you made in your letter are directly addressed in this court case, one which required much time and many resources, including financial, that became the responsibility of the township.  The decision in Buchler v. Forsyth Township, from the Circuit Court for the County of Marquette, Michigan, filed by the Hon. Thomas Solka on December 18, 2012, specifically addresses issues related to GAAMPS for Site Selection and residential zoning.

The Solka opinion states:
  • Despite the Buchler property being zoned Lake Residential, with no allowance for commercial farming or livestock production in zoning regulations, their commercial farming operation is protected under the MRTFA.
  • “The Right to Farm Act at MCL 286.474(6) clearly and unambiguously expresses a legislative intent that the state law preempts “any local ordinance” and bars enforcement of local ordinances against any farm that complies with the Right to Farm Act.  The GAAMPS, themselves, are not administrative rules adopted pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act with force of law.  The GAAMPS are described in the statute as “policy”. MCL 286.473(1).”
  • Hon. Solka’s decision also cites several other court decisions, including Charter Township of Shelby v. Papesh – concluding that “…the RTFA no longer allows township zoning ordinances to preclude farming activity that would otherwise be protected by the RTFA.  Rather, any township ordinance, including a zoning ordinance, is unenforceable to the extent that it would prohibit conduct protected by the RTFA.”

An article about this case is enclosed.  A copy of this decision can be found at -

In addition, the more local Lincoln Township Planning Commission recently approved a request for chicken keeping on a residential lot, at their March 19, 2013, and indicated that future requests would also be granted.  J******* L******, a resident of Lincoln Township, addressed her Planning Commission in much the same manner that I did the City of Midland.  The Planning Commission consulted their attorney, who provided a response (see attached), indicating that the Lowe’s chicken keeping is protected by the MRTFA. 

Once again, I believe it to be indisputable that the Michigan Right to Farm Act allows me to establish a farm in a residentially-zoned area.

Secondly, I would like to recommend that the Planning Commission and City Council revisit an ordinance change in Midland, to allow for ‘backyard chicken keeping’ in a manner that does not have to meet requirements for the Michigan Right to Farm Act (specifically referring to the commercial nature).  Planning Commission meeting minutes dated January, 2011, indicated significant interest by residents, which was then further supported by the efforts of community members speaking on-behalf of an ordinance change when the proposal was addressed in the case of Mr. Joseph Fiordaliso.  I have heard that city staff state that the public opinion was against this ordinance change.  However, I strongly believe this is NOT the case.  No one spoke in opposition of the change at the August 23, 2011 Planning Commission meeting, with eight households showing support.  At the September 13, 2011 Planning Commission meeting, written opinions were one in support, and one in opposition, with three households speaking in favor of change, and only one in opposition.  Again, it is clear; the voice of the people was speaking in favor of an ordinance change.

I believe this is why, after much due diligence and research of other ordinances in the state, that the Planning Commission recommended an ordinance change at that time.  The City Council vote on October 24, 2011 was not representative of the residents those members represent.  Once again, multiple households spoke in favor of the change, while no one spoke in opposition.  Written opposition was received from three households at this time, per a Staff Memorandum pertaining to the ordinance change, but again, articles supporting backyard chicken keeping were also provided.

I am sure that the council is concerned with issues related to non-traditional animals on residential property, including food storage, sizes of coops and building requirements, odors, pests and predators, noise, and disease.  However, all of these issues can also apply to household pets, such as cats and dogs. There are 11,000 – 12,000 single-family homes in the City of Midland.  With nearly 20,000 registered dogs in the city, only approximately 60 complaints are noted annually.  I am certain that a fewer percentage of residents will opt to raise backyard chickens, making the likelihood of complaints even lower.  This makes backyard chicken keeping in the city a non-issue.

I also believe that there is much interest in responsible backyard chicken keeping in the Midland area.
There is a growing, renewed trend of the people to be closer to their food and to know where it came from.  It is evidenced every week, a couple of times as week, at our very own Farmer’s Market, where vendors fill every available space, and parking is at a premium.

In summary, I firmly believe in my right to raise chickens for eggs on my own plot of land, regardless of its location and zoning designation.  This is supported in multiple court decisions in the state, including the most recent decision in Buchler-v-Forsyth Twp.  I plan to establish a small backyard flock, under the protection of the Michigan Right to Farm Act.  Secondly, I urge the Planning Commission to bring their recommendation for an ordinance change back to the City Council for approval.  This will provide Midland residents guidelines for establishing a small flock within the City, even if they are not commercial in nature, and do not intend to research and/or adhere to GAAMPS.

I thank you for your attention to this matter, and hope that once again, this proactive attempt to avoid any zoning violations and/or nuisance complaints is appreciated.

Best regards,

Enclosed                Victory in Michigan! Shady Grove Farm Protected by Right to Farm Act

Letter to Kevin Wray, Lincoln Township Supervisor, from Peter Poznak, Attorney representing Lincoln Township, Michigan

in the over 18 months since i've started this venture, i've met many people in support of backyard chicken keeping.  one of them lives just outside the city of midland, in a nearby township.  she wrote a letter to their planning commission, much like i did, and they forwarded it on to their lawyer, much like the city of midland did.  HOWEVER, their lawyer (in my opinion) actually DID HIS JOB - and this is the letter that i reference, and included, in my second correspondence.  his letter was lengthy and thorough, and includes the following points :

  • The current state of judicial interpretations of the RTFA supports their position, generally, with a caveat.  Those judicial interpretations are Charter Township of Shelby v Papesh... and Papadelis v City of Troy...
  • The foregoing confirms the generality of the ******'s underlying claim of conflict between the Zoning Ordinance and RTFA.
  • Currently, if a property owner such as the *******s seeks the benefits of the RTFA it is incumbent upon them to do so with the intent to produce a profit.  If they do so, they will have the protection of the RTFA without amending the Zoning Ordinance. he referenced the same court cases i did....and acknowledges that there is a conflict between the ordinance and the RTFA....and says that if their farm is commercial it is protected (he specifically states to make a profit - here's where i disagree...there is no court precedence that the farm has to be profitable, just commercial....)  so...they get to keep their chickens...because the township's lawyer did his job.

and me.  guess i'll keep fighting.

on to the next step...