Thanks to everyone who has been posting comments - while I read them all, I am sorry that I am not always able to take time to comment personally. Here are a few replies to answer some recent questions (hope this is helpful):
Q/ when you "freeze dry" your laundry on the line outside in winter, how do you soften the diapers that are stiff and cold when they come indoors?
A/ Yes, we don't have a clothes dryer and hang dry our laundry all year round. We do freeze dry our sheets and towels outdoors in winter, but have a large wooden drying rack that we use indoors to dry our cloth baby diapers. As we have a wood stove going in the next room, we find the diapers dry quickly within a few hours. This indoor rack actually also helps to humidify our house which can get quite dry in winter because of the wood stove. To brighten them up we do hang them out for a few hours, but this is not necessary.
Q/ I am moving to the kw area in the near future and am wondering about the chicken bylaws?
A/ There are a wide range of bylaws on this topic in our area. Kitchener and Waterloo are two separate cities, and as such have different sets of bylaws. The City of Waterloo recently started a pilot project regarding urban chicken keeping. A Waterloo Hen Association was formed, and people had 60 days to register their hens and be part of this study. The discussion will be reopened by city council in 2011. The City of Kitchener bylaws are a little ambiguous on this topic - one part of the bylaw seems to say no (the class of birds chickens belong to are not allowed), while another part seems to be affirmative (they are allowed for "animal husbandry" purposes). City of Cambridge, also part of the kw area, has a grandfathered clause for some of the older properties that had chickens in earlier years. City of Guelph, nearby, does allow hens. As with all bylaws, it's best to be respectful of your neighbours because if they don't approve then bylaw or not, they can still complain and end your hopes of having hens. We suggest checking in with your neighbours before getting hens, keeping the pen clean and tidy, not keeping too many (and no roosters), and giving away some eggs to help build positive hen relations.