Saturday, May 2, 2009

When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lemonade!

The Lemons:

Sadly, we are not going to be able to have the chickens that we were so looking forward to. The City of Tacoma allows them, but our Home Owner's Association does not.
Rules are rules.
So as disappointed as we are, the chickens will have to wait.

So let's make some lemonade!

We still have a 4 foot by 4 foot framed house that we're going to have to do something with.

Yes, it was intended for chickens, but that didn't stop the kids from dragging their pillows and blankets out to the driveway to sit in it while dad was working on building it.

Looks to me like they just got themselves the perfect, little playhouse!

Ahhh, this lemonade tastes good!

Because despite the big let down, the kids are happy and have something to look forward to!

You see, kids are resilient. We know this. They can bounce back from bad news in a moment. When we told them yesterday that we were not going to be able to have chickens here, I at least expected one of them to shed a tear. All they asked was "why?" with big eyes and looks of disappointment on their little faces. But all on their own, they came to the conclusion that it was going to be ok because when we move, then we can have our chickens. Along with a dog for our canine-lover, Owen. And the orange and white cat with green eyes for our very specific seven year old, William. They don't get caught up in the disappointment of today. All they see is the promise of tomorrow.

Too bad it's not that easy for us big kids to see things that way!
The circumstances in which we found out about the Home Owner's Rules were...let's just say, less than ideal. The news came in the form of a letter from the Home Owner's Association stating the rules, demanding an end to construction of the project and a written response letter from us within two weeks, along with the threat of fining us $500.00 and a lien against the property.
Harsh, right?
We were blown away.
Someone decided to take this all the way to the top without the slightest mention of it to us. It didn't take much digging to find out exactly what chain of events occurred. I had my suspicions of who the culprits may be and it was confirmed. What saddens me is that these people are our neighbors. Not the friendliest of neighbors, but neighbors none the less. All they had to do was come and let us know their concerns and what the rules are. We are not unfriendly or inaccessible people. We are here most of the time. And if my husband is here it is almost a guarantee that the garage will be open and he will be in there building something for someone. We are approachable and we will gladly chat with passerby's who inquire about what we are building now. Had these neighbors come to us, we would have realized our mistake and it would have been done. No need to alert the authorities!

Last night we asked ourselves, what we are supposed to be learning from this. Here is what we know:

1. When living in a neighborhood with an HOA, make sure to do all of your homework before-hand!
2. The goals we have for our family do not include being governed by an HOA.
3. We want land and animals.
(Re: #2 and #3...I have known this for years. This event solidified the decision for my husband.)
4. We design great chicken coops! This could be lucrative for us.
5. Trust the neighbors we know. Be leery of those we don't.

I do want to add that I know HOA's can be great! They prevent things from occurring that can de-value a neighborhood. And for that, they are needed. It all comes down to what your goals are, and the environment that you want to create for your family. What Will and I know now is that we are too creative to be stifled by an HOA. We love to design and build and make things beautiful with the goal of making our surroundings better than they were when we arrived. We don't want to ask for approval every time that we want to make an improvement to our home or yard. And we don't want to be governed by an antiquated set of rules.

This neighborhood has a lot of the original owners still living in it. As that changes and younger families start moving in, I wouldn't be surprised if some of these rules become worth fighting for by many. Backyard chickens are already becoming more common place. The idea of growing your own food, reducing your footprint to help the environment, and providing for yourself instead of relying on retailers is something that we see everywhere these days. It's in print media, radio, television...everywhere you look. More and more people are catching on and realizing that it just might be as easy as it looks. It wouldn't surprise me if people started challenging the rules set in place by home builders.

For now, we are content in knowing that our coop, which we put so much time and energy into designing and constructing, will be converted into a playhouse and used by the kids. But, I guarantee this, its future still remains as a chicken coop!

We'll just look at it as delayed gratification!

As for our next project, expect to see a playhouse coming soon along with a few very happy kiddos!

Will and I, we're going to follow the kids' lead
and look forward to the promise of tomorrow!

photos courtesy of


amanda said...

HOA's love 'em and hate 'em! We live in a little group of 12 houses and it never ceases to amaze me what happens with the HOA when it's just this small little group.

I'm glad you were able to find something positive out of this... it takes a trooper to make lemonade!

I'm in the Pacific NW too (Washington)... and I think we're just a little ahead of the game on the living off the grid... raising chickens... sort of thing. :)

Best of luck... someday soon you'll have the land and animals HOA free!

Chris said...

Oh so sad isn't it , we do not have HOA's here at all , who runs them , it is like a co-op community or single family homes , so curious.

kathi said...

So sad to hear about your coop being "for the birds" with the HOA.
Such fools they are! It's not like you were going to be slopping pigs or something...
Looking forward to an amazing playhouse for sure! Your kids should sell lemonade on your driveway, if "they" will allow that!?

Mrs. Foot said...

HOAs can be a pain. We can't wait to live in a place that isn't governed by them. And sad about the neighbors...

marty39 said...

What a great idea for the children to get a playhouse. I know they will love it and you will too just watching them. Now that's really good lemonade. Hugs, Marty

AnNicole @ OurSuburbanCottage said...

I am so sorry for the terrible news you received but I love all of your thoughts on this. You have such a great attitude, so this was very many ways.

Thanks so much for sharing with us, and I have no doubt you're going to have those chickens...and dog, and striped cat...someday.

Michelle@Fromhousetohome said...

Is it time to start an enormous compost pile on the property line? Okay, okay, sorry. That's petty and wrong. But I'm so upset for you! I would be sad if my neighbors didn't come to us with a problem. What happened to neighbors looking out for one another? They couldn't just come to you and say hey, you know, the HOA rules don't allow that. I wanted to let you know before you built any further. Why couldn't they say that? I'll never understand grouchy people.

I'm sorry you weren't able to do this. I'm happy the kids took it well though!

~~Deby said...

I know how this can be..yet sometimes those pesky HOA can protect you from living next to someone who doesn't give a hoot about anything...have you considered Kitsap County? Our son and dil live on some land there...much cheaper

Becky said...

You have a good attitude. Sorry that your plans were stopped.
I know of a lady that had a few chickens and she lived in a neighborhood and she kept finding her chickens dead in the at least you don't have a neighbor like what she suspected she had.

McNew Family said...

Cluck, cluck, cluck. Sorry to hear your news :-( We are just down the corridor at exit 50 ish - plenty of great land and houses to shop from here! NO HOA's! Come on down!

Elizabeth (blue clear sky) said...

Sorry to hear about the temporary change in plans, though happy for the kids. Maybe this was the sign that BOTH of you needed for your future home plans. Hopefully one day you can have the room for both the chicken coop and the playhouse.

~Allie~ said...

I have been reading your blog..I found it through someone else's out there in blog land. I love seeing all your ideas and precious children! As a matter of fact I am in the process of redoing my little girl's room just like Ellison's! It is so cute! I haven't painted yet...but I am gathering lots of shabby chic pieces! She already loves it. I also do I am trying to find something simple and shabby chic for her room.. I am thinking a scrolly monogram over her old white iron bed. Who knows! Anyway, thanks for sharing all your great ideas

Sarah @ Thrifty Decor Chick said...

I love them and hate them too! For the most part I'm OK with ours...they keep some in line that need to be kept in line, you know? I highlighted your headboard bench on my blog today, just wanted to let you know!

danahollis said...

Oh I totally understand! I just found out today that I can't have my little flock of 3 chickens I was hoping for either.

I live in a development surrounded by farmland... but alas... I guess a 1/3 acre lot is not considered enough to have farm animals.

I am so disappointed! :(

mimi charmante said...

I am so sorry - your coop is absolutely darling! We are fortunate enough to have a bit of land, and over 20 hens. They are such fun, and I hope that one day you too will enjoy them~

Manuela@Pleasures of Homemaking said...

HOA's!! We live in an old neighborhood without one and most times I'm happy about it but then we have neighbors who can't seem to mow their lawn until it's a foot high!

I'm glad you were able to make something positive out of a situation that started negative.

I've always wanted chickens and ducks and fortunately my town allows them and I have no HOA!