Nobody here but us chickens

Nobody here but us chickens

Why did the chicken cross into the city limits of Champaign?

Council members could have faced down the crowd that showed up at the Champaign city building Tuesday, but they were chicken.

Sorry, couldn't resist that. But it's not every day that council members in a high-tech university town take the decidedly low-tech path of allowing citizens to raise chickens in their backyards. But when the multitudes appeared — with straw between their teeth and cow dung on their work boots — council members opened the door for a new critter to reside within the city limits.

Only well-known chicken foe Vic McIntosh had the temerity to vote no in the face of the overwhelming clucking of public support.

As soon as the rules on chicken ownership are drafted by city staffers and approved by the council, Champaign will join Urbana in welcoming chickens, although not all chickens. In a sorry embrace of sex discrimination, roosters will remain banned.

Although chickens certainly have their critics, it's hard to see how they will pose any great problem. Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing has yet either to summarily fire a chicken or wring its neck in her city, so we trust the chicken thing is going well there.

Still, it's hard to see the appeal of keeping chickens. A good loyal dog will view his owner with reverence. But what's a hen to think when her eggs continue to disappear? This could be a breeding ground for considerable resentment.

Nonetheless, to each his own — as long as people don't put all their eggs in one basket, what's the harm? If the chickens do create problems, they will come home to roost soon enough.

There's one important thing to note in the chicken debate. Chicken backers organized themselves and educated council members on the issue. Mayor Don Gerard said he received more comments on the chicken issue than on any other municipal issue.

If only the public would join enthusiastically in more important civic endeavors — like voting in city elections. That would really be worth crowing about.

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