Posted Aug 29, 2005 06:35 am CDT
OK, let’s get this out of the way: Yes, a chicken crossed the road. But, no, there’s no punch line. In fact, her owners are not at all amused.
Linc and Helena Moore of Johannesburg, Calif., own the wayward bird named Ophelia. In March, an officer of the Kern County Sheriff’s Department ticketed the chicken under a provision of the California Food and Agricultural Code that forbids livestock on the highway.
Linc Moore refused to pay the fine and went to court several times to defend his plea of not guilty. The Moores believe the ticket was linked to their ongoing battle to keep dirt bikes out of their neighborhood.
“[Linc] is on oxygen 24 hours a day,” his wife says. “When the bikers come they kick up dust, noise, smoke and pollution.”
Francis Moore (no relation), a spokesman for the sheriff’s department, denies any connection between Ophelia’s ticket and the dirt bike complaints. “Absolutely not,” he says. “It’s a ridiculous claim.”
He states further that Ophelia’s wanderlust has been a frequent problem, with neighbors complaining about damage to their gardens.
A public defender successfully argued that Ophelia is a domesticated fowl and thus not subject to livestock regulations. The charge was dropped.
Since then, the Moores imply, the sheriff’s department has put them low in the pecking order. Linc says a dog recently tried to attack his wife, so he called to report it. “They told me they don’t do animal control,” he says.
“Do you take this woman to be your …”
“To be what?”
“Do you take this woman …”
That was more or less the scene in April when a Tennessee bride and groom tried to exchange vows during their outdoor wedding ceremony. So why all the shouting? A nearby resident decided right then that his lawn needed mowing.
Unfortunate coincidence or premeditated mischief? It depends on whom you ask.
William Cochran, who claims to be one of a group of neighbors who “oppose public ceremonies, parties, fundraisers where hundreds of people come,” admits he was cutting his grass during the wedding ceremony. But he says that he did not intend to disrupt it.
Richard Demonbreun, a Nashville bed-and-breakfast owner on whose property the wedding took place, sees it differently.
“This gentleman is very spoiled,” he says of Cochran. “He is anything but willing to allow all of Nashville to enjoy historic home events.”
Demonbreun, who has a permit to hold large-scale events on his property but has issues with the zoning commission, sued his noisy neighbor for intentional interference with a business relationship. He is seeking $50,000 in punitive and compensatory damages, and adds that he would like to settle with Cochran, but “people like him need to be taught a lesson.”