Raising recipes

Texas livestock bill in process to be passed

Priya Gregerson, Co-Editor, Staff Reporter

Around this time last year, conversations about self sustainability sprung on social media. Many families took up gardening during the pandemic, and not just for a hobby. After scrolling through platforms like Instagram and Twitter, my mother and I sparked a discussion about creating a garden for foods like black soy beans (which are high in protein), starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams, green vegetables like squash and cucumbers and even some fruit like apples, figs and asian pears. We made a proposal to my father (who was in full survival mode at the time). He said he liked the concept but hinted that it just wasn’t sustainable enough for three adults and two dogs. That’s when my mind went to chickens. Compared to most other livestock species, chicken are typically quieter and produce a lot less odor and waste. But, I knew with a strict HOA like my neighborhood’s, raising chickens would either never happen or have to happen secretly. 

 

I began to envision a beautiful chicken coop that doubled as a garden shed and work area. White wood with jasmine vines climbing to the roofline, and hens happily clucking and pecking at seed. But it was only a fantasy. I knew there was weeks and weeks of research to be done before I could stand anchored with my proposal. 

 

While browsing the internet and asking around, I came to find some pretty interesting and unexpected information about certain chicken breeds. Breeds like Brahmas, Orpingtons and Wyandottes are known for their docility and quiet nature which is a must have for backyard chickens. I also discovered certain breeds of hens can lay not only white, brown and speckled eggs, but blue green and pink as well. I researched how to make chicken coops animal proof (since this area has a big coyote problem). Pricing, availability, and care of chickens and their environment were also things in the search bar. 

 

After months passed with no sign of allowance from the HOA, I felt discouraged and began moving on to focus on other things. But, recently, the topic was moved back into family conversation. My mother, a lawyer, discovered there was a Bill in motion that if passed, would allow families like mine to raise chickens. 

 

Texas House Bill 1686 and Senate Bill 1062 is related to the regulation of food production on single family residences by a municipality or property owner’s association such as the Steiner Ranch HOA. The Bill pushes the allowance and right to own small livestock such as chickens, rabbits and bees. The House Agricultural and Life Committee approved the bill. The Calendars Committee is responsible for scheduling a vote by the full House. This has not yet happened. On the Senate side, the Bill is still waiting to get a hearing in the Senate Local Government Committee.  Organizations in support of the bill include the Council of San Antonio, Texas Local Food and Farm Coalition, Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Farm and Freedom Alliance, GROW North Texas and Grow Local South Texas. 

 

Having access to chickens, bees or rabbits, and a garden is like having an HEB in your backyard. Grocery store poultry labels will read: ‘cage free’ or ‘hormone free’ but many times, these are deceptions. Not that these companies are lying, but the alternative is not what people like me would imagine, or want for our food. Being self-sustainable reduces your carbon footprint by saving trips to the supermarket and also ensures that your food is sourced from something natural and healthy, rather than chemical filled mistreatment.

During the rollercoaster of this pandemic, we have learned not to take things we have or have access to for granted. But, we also learned just how fragile our mental/physical states can get. I believe being self sustainable has many mental and physical health benefits for growing plants and caring for and raising animals. Even just going outside is proven to decrease depression and anxiety levels. So, going outside to care for your at-home grocery store will add more purpose and more fulfillment to life.  It’s unknown whether or not this bill will pass, but everyone will always have the right to grow plants and spend time in the sunshine. Heaven forbid we never have another mass event like COVID-19, but in case the zombie apocalypse begins, you and I will [hopefully] be [somewhat] prepared to see it to the end.