Hipster farming: more interesting than a cabinet shuffle

Tease the day: Animal shelters wonder about a coming influx of neglected chickens

(AP Photo/The Record-Eagle, Jan-Michael Stump)

This could be a time to talk about cabinet shuffle speculation, and if that’s your thing, you’ll find many among the Ottawa press corps who will speculate as long as you’re willing to read, watch, and listen. My view is that the only speculation that matters, and it’s a week old, is Aaron Wherry’s. He understands the folly in all of this.

Let’s not talk about cabinet shuffles. Let’s talk about something much more dire, much more harmful to the nation, and much closer to home than any ornate swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall. Let’s talk about hipster farmers who neglect their backyard chickens, and who will soon unleash an army of sad roosters on an animal shelter near you.

That’s not me casually tossing around the word hipster, by the way. That’s the National Post, which declared a preemptive strike on Canadian backyard do-gooders by reducing their good deeds to that stinging pejorative. Apparently, the story is this: in the United States, wannabe urban farmers—or “stupid foodies,” according to one source—have dropped off hundreds of their chickens at animal shelters across the land. They don’t realize that chickens aren’t a party, don’t understand how long they live, and don’t take care of them properly. So, they make a trip to an animal shelter.

Now, Canadian cities are passing bylaws that allow urban farming, and animal shelters north of the border are preparing for an onslaught of abandoned chickens. Barbara Cartwright, the CEO of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, told the Post that chickens only lay eggs for a couple of years. The Canadian push for relaxed bylaws picked up in 2009, so when that first wave of urban chickens stops laying eggs, she expects a lot more clucking in shelters.

For now, of course, it’s all speculation.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with the potential death toll of 60 in Lac-Mégantic, Que., after the recent deadly train explosion. The National Post fronts the announcement that downtown Lac-Mégantic is a crime scene. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway convincing the feds that the company could operate its train with a single onboard engineer. The Ottawa Citizen leads with Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk’s unsuccessful attempt to build a casino near his team’s arena in a western suburb. iPolitics fronts the criminal probe in Lac-Mégantic. leads with investigators combing the scene in downtown Lac-Mégantic. CTV News leads with the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway chief’s visit to Lac-Mégantic. National Newswatch showcases a CBC News report that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s upcoming cabinet shuffle is critical to his government’s future.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Struggling soldiers. The cost of living is so high in northern Alberta that many soldiers have been forced to take second jobs just to make ends meet, says Canada’s military ombudsman. 2. Marketing. Furniture giants The Brick and Leon’s were accused of “deceptive marketing” by Canada’s competition commissioner, who said “pay later” deals actually involve upfront fees.
3. Palestine. Israeli officials reportedly urged Canada not to follow through on threats of cutting off Palestinian aid when the fledgling authority sought enhanced status at the United Nations. 4. Bees! Pesticides could be responsible for a decline in Ontario’s bee population, and neonicotinoids are at the heart of a provincial panel’s investigation into the widespread deaths.
5. Tibet. More than 500 people had gathered for a picnic on a sacred mountain in Sichuan to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday when police opened fire, injuring nine Tibetans. 6. Lebanon. A car bomb hit Hezbollah territory in southern Beirut, injuring at least 53 people. The explosion could signal increasing Sunni-Shiite hostilities sparked by Syrian unrest.

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