Change is coming...and it doesn't look good

Well, the dog killing the chicks thing turned out to bring some bad news this way. My neighbor thinks it's my responsibility to keep my chickens penned (which I do, but the little chicks get out and then the mama hen flies over the fence) because hers is a hunting dog and killing birds is what he's supposed to do. Of course there is a law that dogs aren't supposed to run free, but that didn't phase her reasoning.
Anyway, being that she is related to the original owners of the property, she tried to tell me there is a covenant in this neighborhood and actually I'm not even supposed to have chickens or sheep. We built this house 20 years ago and there was never any mention of a covenant when we bought the land. I assured her that she was totally wrong and quoted her the township's zoning laws which state that we can have ten sheep per acre, so I could have 50 sheep here if I wanted.
Afterward, I called the township to see if they ever had a record of a covenant, of course they did not, BUT I was informed that the township is in the process of changing the zoning laws THIS FALL. They said the number of animals allowed will be decreased, but they didn't tell me any actual numbers per acre. I'd say we're well into the fall already and I deserve to know what they are thinking. I have to watch their website for further information.
That sent me into a depression thinking about who I could part with and re-examining my breeding plans. I have 30 sheep now, but three have been sold (Jake, Darcy and Grace) and I planned to reduce some ram numbers after breeding season - I may eliminate ALL my Shetland rams, so if anyone is interested in a nice ram, let me know before he becomes sausage. I'll be using Bombarde (RRAA poll carrying fawn katmoget) again and Boggart (mioget dual coat) unless he sells too. Eli is being leased out for breeding and so I think I can get down to 23 sheep fairly easily. I won't breed my ewe lambs except for the two Shetland Mules, I HAVE to see what they produce with my colored BFL ram.
But this turn of events has re-awakened the need to move out of here. Like our neighbors who live nextdoor to the dog owners, we may be putting our place on the market again.
If we could sell this place, we could build on our 40 acres or maybe just sell that too and buy an existing place on 20 acres that a friend of mine has for sale. It's only 6 miles away and it's all set up with a barn and pasture and hayfield.
In the meantime, I would think we should be grandfathered in when and if the zoning regulations change. But I can't get any straight answers about that from the township zoning administrator. Depressing! I guess I'm going to have to start attending the township meetings, arghhh.


  1. I'm sorry for the trouble you are having with the neighbor. You may want to investigate the local laws about nuisance dogs. Where I grew up (SE of Foley, MN) nuisance dogs can be shot by a livestock owner if the dog is on your property. Harsh but necessary sometimes. The neighbor should protect her valuable, trained, and much loved mutt by keeping it home.

    Another thought is that most of today's hunting dogs are pointers and retrievers (find it or bring it back), not the killing type of hunter. If hers is one of the less common killing dogs I would think her responsibility/liability just went through the roof.

    Good luck!!!!

  2. that neighbor lady is blowing smoke up your backside Becky! Don't believe its your responsibility. Loose dogs are not to be permitted REGARDLESS of what they do. Attacking livestock is also a legal issue. Then add in that you WERE grandfathered in and if they do re-zone, you are allowed to be grandfathered in. I have a friend that lives right by the expansion of the Rochester MN airport. He is surrounded by housing development and raises beef cattle. No one can complain, he is grandfathered in, but he can't get MORE cattle. Only the amount he had when the zoning went into affect. If that's the case we can all bring our sheep to your farm to help with the maximum numbers jk!

    Keep us posted!

  3. The other comments made are quite right, Becky. I had Clancy read your post (he sits on our town board.) He said the same things Garrett did.

    I'm really sorry you have a neighbor like that. It's hard to believe she could even think she is not responsible. But maybe she thinks if she gets you to worry about the township changes you won't bring up the glaring fact that her dog was wandering and did damage to your property/livestock. Hope things resolve well. And don't get rid of any of the sheep you want to keep until they can legally FORCE you to. Best, Sabrina

  4. Isn't it amazing that, even in the country, we can get bad neighbors. I don't have any neighbors living within almost 3 miles of me, but the people who own the pastures and croplands around us still make things difficult at times by burning when the wind is blowing towards our place or spraying horrid amounts of pesticide on windy days, etc. You should stand your ground, but if you are already contemplating moving anyway, maybe this is a good time to really think about planning for that. It sounds like you maybe already know of a place you'd like to move to (thats a bonus!). I agree with the others though - dogs have to be controlled, even in the country. She could be legally required to pay for your chicks, though it likely isn't worth the headache to press the issue.


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