It wasn't just about the chickens.
So much more was at stake as friends and foes of urban fowl filled the City Council chamber on Tuesday, when an ordinance that would have allowed chickens within the city limits failed with a 6-3 vote.
On one side, residents argued they ought to have domain of their property. With chickens and their eggs they can control at least one small part of their food supply. Live off the land. See their food from infancy to the dinner table. Liberate themselves, at least a little, from the mass-produced bounty of corporate farms.
And who is the government to say that dogs, cats and parrots are OK, but chickens aren't?
"We seem to be in favor of losing our liberty instead of gaining it," said Councilman Chip Henderson. "Every time we pass a law or an ordinance, somebody loses a little bit of their rights."
But opponents made a play at liberty, too.
Those against backyard chicken coops said the City Council was putting their property rights on the line. Livestock next door could tank their home values. And living in town, they have a right not to be subjected to the sights, sounds and smells of farm animals like chickens.
Read more in Wednesday's Chattanooga Times Free Press.