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OT - AITAH (am I the Ahole?) Chicken edition

ESMOD's picture

Ok.. I will prefact this by saying.. I probably am being a little bit of an ahole.. but I feel pretty well justified given the situation.

We recently moved back down to my husband's home town.  He stopped working offshore and to save money, the plan was for us to move back here to live in his grandparent's home next to his parents and sell our home in town.  This is an old 1920's home that is next to his parent's home.. we pay a nominal amount of "rent".. and have been paying it for years... even when we weren't living here full time because we wanted to make sure that paying taxes etc... on this place didn't become a burden to his parents. 

It has been historically been the intent that he would inherit this home someday.. and his brother would inherit the nicer home that his parents live in currently.  His brother currently lives in the semi-detached "inlaw" apartment directly behind his parent's home.. a small one bedroom cottage type affair.  He is paying the "same" rent that we do.. but at the insistance of his mother.. not by his choice.. he resents it and has on several occasions refused to help his parents in any way because "they are renters"... we, on the other hand do a lot for his parents and one of the reasons we are here is that they need more help now that they are in their upper 70's.  We also pay for repairs and upkeep to the place we stay.. his brother expects his parents to pay for anything to do with the place he and his wife have been living in now for years. (sidebar that he and his wife are here because he lost his job and they are basically just waiting for them to die.. when they moved in my inlaws thought it was a "soft landing" until they could get a real place of their own.. but the wife summarily started purging the home of family mementos of my MIL's own mother.. just throwing special pictures and things like that in the trash.. my MIL was literally crying at her actions.  They have now been there years.. clear they do not intend to move ever).


So... the current problem is that this past spring they decided to buy chickens and ducklings from the local feed store.  They knew little to nothing about caring for these birds and several of the ducks ended up crippled or partially crippled due to a deficient diet. They kept them in their bathtub and then in the shop that adjoins my inlaws living room.. often letting the stench of ammonia get so strong it stung your eyes.

Then they decided that the perfect place to situate their coop was on "our" lot.  We had maintained with them that if they ended up with roosters.. we wouldn't be happy because of the constant noise... and they put them on "our" side.. not by them... (which would have been where my MIL hangs her clothes)... 

So when the roosters started to crow because you know they had TWO of them.. my DH said it was time to rehome them.. that it wasn't fair to us to have to listen to their racket.. I work from home.  The response from his brother was that he would be home to fight him.. nice....

Then they started letting the chickens and ducks free range.. and you know they were all around OUR vehicles and things because they are on our lot.  I warned them that we were not happy with having these birds crapping all over where we had to walk and that the birds were going to cause problems.. we were ignored.. we asked MIL to intervene.. she just pursed her lip and walked away.

Then I had about 100 plants that I grew from seeds.. lots of time.. lots of money.. guess where his chickens and ducks decided to go?  they ate and trampled all of them.. killed the whole lot.. and when I called my MIL and angrilly told her I was done having the birds roaming free.. I am the one that is being treated like the Ahole.

We know that roaming birds are a problem.. this is not a farm.. it's a neighborhood.. we pay "rent" just like them and it's inconsiderate for them to be able to do something that affects us and we have zero say.

At this point, I don't know wha tthe answer is.. ultimately I think it will probably end up with us not being here as long as we would like.  My DH took a big cut in earnings to be home.. and this home was supposed to be part of that plan.. but I don't think I can live where my interests are so dismissed.  Unfortunately, I don't have good options.. we need to sell our other place.. we can't afford it without the income from him working out of town.  I am just livid that we are the ones who are the victims yet we are being treated like it is all our fault.

I mean.. AM I the Ahole?  I may not leave this up for long.. it's mostly venting... but if anyone has any ideas about how to discourage chickens and ducks from being in a certain area.. would love to hear.



tog redux's picture

NTA - but it seems to me this family's dysfunction is pretty loud and clear - MIL enables her son and weeps over how they treat her but does nothing to boot them out - and then defends them when you want to set reasonable limits.

Are chickens and ducks even allowed in that neighborhood by law? If not, a quick anonymous call to the town should do the trick.

ESMOD's picture

You are correct on the dysfunction.. his brother and his family have always had to take priority.. family celebrations always have to be arranged to be convenient to them and his kids even if it means that we or my SD's have to be absent.  He is one of those guys that is always "butt hurt" over things that are never his fault.  They both are alcoholics and drinking is their hobby outside of their work.. she is a part time waitress in a seasonal restaurant.. and with Covid has been working little to no hours.. I am suspecting she may also be using drugs.. her behavior is totally erratic at times.  But of course MIL is so afraid to take a stand and hurt their feelings or get them mad at her.  Things are never their fault though.. shoot, I have helped them break leases in the past.. we have helped them move multiple times.. treated my BIL to festivals and fishing trips.  We even provided the venue for his older daughter to get married when we were running a cruise boat operation.. all he had to pay for was the food... we gave them a 3 hour excursion on a 100 foot boat!  

This isn't the first thing that has come up this year though.. we own some property on the water down here.. (well.. making payments haha).. and we built a dock on it last year with my husband's season bonus.. well.. of course we haven't used the dock because my husband was out of town all last year.. so he let his brother put crab pots down on our dock since we were not using it.  We came back to find that instead of getting out to open the gate.. he decided to drive throughthe ditch all year putting ruts around our gate.. and when  we told him that we were planning to put our own crab pots on our own dock this year.. and he would need to find a new place to do it?.. he got pretty huffy about it.  So.. again.. we were Aholes for wanting to use our own land...???

Unfortunately, I believe that the birds would likely be allowed.. this is a rural county... so I'm fairly certain zoning isn't going to help us there.  Then there is the fact that they have put the birds on "our" lot.. so technically the people who would be fined could end up being US... or my inlaws since the property is theirs..  

I'm trying to convince myself that this is a long game.. and that eventually we will probably end up having to build on our land.. even though that is not a cost we wanted to take on right now.. so I may need to let things rest a bit.. but it still burns my craw.

ESMOD's picture

This is my husband's home town.. it is a beautiful place on the Chesapeak Bay... I honestly don't care to live next door to his brother and the wife long term.. ie forever.. but normally we just keep to ourselves.. do our own thing.  We usually just ignore his brother... we don't hang out.. don't have to normally deal with him or her much at all.  He has long ago done enough things that we are happy to keep them at arm's length.. (same uncle that passed pictures of my YSD and her friend in a Bikini around at his work.. same employer where SHE works.. thankfully she has been promoted to a different section now).

It's just that now.. Their thing has spilled over on us and it sucks because our options are limited for a little bit.  We also really don't want to put his parents in a bad situation financially by not paying them the money we have been every month.. they do rely on it.. but we certainly can't go build a new home to live somewhere else and still pay them in our current employment situation.  One of the reasons why he is home is to help his parents.. because they DO need it.. but they refuse to take any position here because they are afraid of offending them.  It's really a bad situation for them too.. they don't feel they have any options and it's easier to give us the short end because we are better people.

Gimlet's picture

Isn't it great when being a considerate and functional person somehow makes you the a-hole?  His parents DO have options, but those options entail standing up to BIL and being willing to issue consequences.  They are uniquely positioned to do that, but you can't make them see it.

Your BIL sounds like he needs his ass kicked, tbh, and in general I try not to go to violence as a solution.

tog redux's picture

Yes, this. Don't be the martyr for this dysfunctional family. My guess is that "sweet, kind" MIL wields her power quietly, and this will not be the last of the family dysfunction you get caught up in.

halo1998's picture

they are.  I would call the zoning board and find out if the area is zone for farm animals...chances are it is not. Then if they are on your property I would call a rescure or the animal control and have them picked up.  Or catch them yourselves and rehome them. When asked, simply say they were relocated.  

I hate when people get animals have 0 idea how to care for them and worse yet no intention of finding out.

beebeel's picture

I would claim the asshole badge of honor and actually remove the birds myself if they're going to treat you like the bad guy anyhow. "Birds? What birds? Oh I thought I heard coyotess last night. Huh. Oh well!"

And I would be rethinking living so close to loser BIL because that guy's flavor of drama never ends. I have a brother just like him whom I haven't talked to in years.

Gimlet's picture

Absolutely NTA.  I'm sorry your MIL is such an enabler of your nasty BIL.   I agree with Tog on the dysfunction and with beebeel about not wanting to live that close to this loser.

Halo, right?  It's unfair to ESMOD and her DH and to the birds.  Selfish pricks.

justmakingthebest's picture

You are not the A-hole here. I would personally go ahead and make a "free-range" chicken dinner. 

You could also call animal control. There are a lot of areas where you can't have roosters- so maybe they would help. Or you could put up a local post for all of the birds and have someone come get them for free! 

BethAnne's picture

We used to have 3 female ducks and when they got fully grown they would wake us every morning. We dug a small lined pond for them and once a month my husband would empty it out and clean out the poop. It stank so badly, so I can sypathize that fowl are not the easiest neighbors! Our neighborhood allowed people to keep female ducks and chickens (our neighbor had chickens) but not males (probably because of the noise). So you might be able to get them on that if you have similar rules. Even if you don't report it, you could use it as leverage to get them moved back to your in-laws side and for them to get rid of the the roosters. 

Is this house really worth it? You are going to live there for years next to your brother in law who seems to be beyond irritating. I might walk away from inheriting it and find a small apartment to stay in until your incomes will allow something better suited to you. At least then your landlord will have some teeth with  your neighbors. You could even suggest to your in-laws that they sell the house and use the money to enjoy themselves, if they want to leave some money to your husband when they pass they can but let them know it is not needed or expected. You would rather enjoy the time now when they are around than be arguing over chicken poop.

The alternative is to take direct action and start moving the birds back to the other property. If your brother in-law keeps moving them back onto your side then you could look into your legal rights as "tenants" and see if there is room there to send a letter to your parents-in-law letting them know that it is unacceptable that you cannot enjoy the "rental" property in peace and should have full use of the outside space etc. Move the burden of the birds back to your in-laws. If they can't stand up to your brother in law and his wife that is their problem. 

ESMOD's picture

To me, the house is not all that worth it.. the more I see of his brother.. the less I want to be "neighbors".. lol.  But it isn't my inheritance to give up.. it's my husband's.. and there is so much sentimentality with him and this home.. his favorite grandparent etc...  

There is one option that we have and we may have to take it... we own a small home in this area that we actually were trying to sell as the proceeds were going to help us pay off something else.. plus be relieved of THAT payment.  So.. it would cost us more to move there.. probably to the tune of 12-1400 a month difference in cost more  because if we live there.. we won't have the money to pay off the other loan... and even just the pmt and insurance is more than we pay now.

We have owned chickens ourselves for years.. but when we have had them.. no roosters and kept them penned up.. because when we didn't it was a problem.. just like it is with their birds now. we also lived on 65 acres.. so a bit different than the size of the lots we are on now.

ESMOD's picture

Yeah.. I don't know that they intentionally set out to do that.. but I think they are really just stupid and self centered enough to think that they should be able to do whatever they want.. and no one should be allowed to tell them any different.

It's not like we are displacing them in any way really... but my BIL does definitely have a jealous streak when it comes to my husband.. he is his "little brother' in every way.. never accomplished much.. never will have anything unless it is given to him.. not inclined to work hard for anything.  My DH and I work our collective nuts off to have what we have.. and right now it is tough without his larger income.. and covid didn't help our situation at all when it came to that because the job he did get cut hours on top of it all.. so it is a LOT less than we planned on having to make due with.  

So.. our options are probably to just bide our time and make a move when we can.

Evil3's picture

I live in an area that has tons of raccoons. We put that soda wash stuff in water to keep the raccoons out of yards. Some other critters, we use pepper. Is there something you can use that's harmless to chickens and ducks but keeps them out? What about fencing your own yard to keep the critters out of your space? Still that might resolve that one problem, but it sounds like your BIL is impossible and he's like a SK. He'll just find something else that drives you crazy.

ESMOD's picture

Unfortunately fencing isn't a solution since they have put their pen on our lot.. right beside the garage.. we could put a bigger fenced area where they have the chickens.. but that would cost a lot of money.. and it honestly shouldn't have to be that we have to pay to keep their animals up.. they would likely just open any gate up anyway.. and it would make it tough for my FIL to mow.. and he still insists on doing that even though his eyesight and arthritis are bad.

I think we are just going to have to suck it up and just be quietly moving towards an exit plan.

Winterglow's picture

How about fencing in the land around the house? Make it dense enough so the birds can't get through. 

Personally, I'd start by contacting the local veterinary/health services- firstly because these birds are being maltreated. Secondly because the insalubrious circumstances they are being kept in is detrimental to everyone's health, not just theirs.