KENNNARD: Note to DEQ: It’s just three little chickens

I’ve been on the hunt for one Barnevelder, one Orpington and one Wyandotte, although I’d settle for a Columbian Wyandotte or even a Silver Laced Wyandotte. I have to admit though, the Golden Laced Wyandottes are very pretty chickens as well.

Admittedly, a few years ago, I didn’t know a Cuckoo Marans from a Silver Penciled Plymouth Rock. Don’t worry, unless you grew up in 4-H, you probably couldn’t tell a Rhode Island Red from a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

That was before my doctor ordered me onto a high protein diet.

We started with six Red Sex link chicks — which coincidently were bred from male Rhode Island Reds and female White Leghorns. They’re a common hybrid that you’ll find in a lot of backyard chicken runs. They pump out eggs like a machine.

My flock was up to 21 chickens of all shapes and sizes before my wife took away my chicken catalog. It was probably wise, we were getting about 10 dozen eggs a week. My kids begged us to buy cereal and stop forcing them to eat eggs every morning — and afternoon and evening.

All my girls, I mean chickens, were very entertaining, but like any amateur chicken farmer will tell you, there are some drawbacks.

For instance, chickens eat everything.

My days of tomato farming came to a crashing halt when my chickens found my tomato garden. Then they got into the grape arbor. We had chickens in the flower garden and even chickens in my pear trees.

Eating everything though, has a bonus. They’d eat the wasps in the grass that came to gorge on fallen fruit from my six fruit trees, then they’d eat the fruit. They ate dinner scraps, including vegetables my children rejected. They even ate their own eggs if they were broken or cracked — disturbing but true.

Chickens also stink.

You backyard chicken farmers out there know what I’m talking about. They can work up a mighty stnch if you don’t keep the coop clean. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like hog stink, but it’ll make your nose-hairs curl.

That’s one reason why most cities limit backyard chicken farmers like myself to just a few birds. The acidic stench of chicken poop is not something you want wafting over your neighbor’s backyard grill party.

Country folks aren’t so lucky, and that’s where the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Air Quality steps in.

Big poultry operations are required to follow strict rules related to air quality. If you live downwind of any of the local major chicken plants you understand what I’m talking about.

DEQ regulations apply to other ag operations as well, such as the North Carolina Renewable Power plant that burns “wood, poultry cake, and poultry litter in two boilers to generate steam that is used to generate electricity, according to information from DEQ officials.

The local power plant wants to modify a boiler maintenance project and meet the requirements of a 2017 Special Order by Consent (SOC).

“The draft permit reclassifies the facility as a PSD major source to reflect the current emissions, operating scenarios, and additional boiler modifications and requires the facility to Best Available Control Technology on its implementers and other emission sources,” according to the NCDEQ.

Now, as an amateur chicken farmer with a handful of chickens, I can only imagine what the smell of burning chicken poop must smell like. Still burning chicken poop to create electricity seems like an extremely creative way to keep that crap from leaching into our streams, rivers and groundwater.

If there is a way to scrub their smoke stacks to comply with air quality standards, it seems like it’s a good idea. You may have other ideas. If you do, there’s a way to voice to your objection.

A remote public hearing on the draft permit for Lumberton facility has been extended until Feb. 24. You can participate in the hearing online or by phone. Send email to [email protected] with the subject line [“NCRP.17C”]. You may also leave a voicemail comment at 919-707-8714. Comments will be accepted until 5 pm on Feb. 24.

If you want to take place in the live event at 6 pm on Feb. 21, you can go online to, using the event password: NCDAQ.

As a hobby chicken farmer, the last thing I want is to be a bad neighbor. If you live near the North Carolina Renewable Power facility in Lumberton, you can help them be a good neighbor as well.

In the meantime, I’m serious, I’ve not been able to find the elusive Barnevelder anywhere so let me know if you’ve got a line on one. Just one! (my wife wrote that last part).

David Kennard, who hates kechup on is scrambled eggs, is the executive editor of The Robesonian. Contact him at [email protected]

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