Saturday, July 16, 2011

Salem Chicken Coop and Garden Tour

Sorry I am late posting about this, but the garden took over and delayed me.  On Sunday, June 19th, Salem, Oregon had their first Chicken Coop tour.  This was a huge deal for us, since we had to fight so long to make keeping chickens legal.  

Featured at the first stop on the tour was author Gretchen Anderson, who wrote, “The Backyard Chicken Fight - How Keeping Chickens in Your Yard is Ruffing Feathers Across the Nation and A Beginner's Guide to Hen Keeping”.   (This is available from Mill Park Publishing don’t have the book, but understand that she documented part of Salem’s fight for the right to raise chickens in the book.  

The number of coops and gardens was overwhelming – there was no way that I could take 5 hours out of my weekend (my garden needed me), so I chose three coops to visit.

Joy's chicken coop
I decided to take the tour backwards, as most people go in numerical order (no lemming I), so went to one of the last stops, first.  And it was the home of one of my coworkers who retired years ago.  Joy has a lovely coop for hens Aretha, Gertie and Maizie.  I won’t say too much about them because I am going back to do an in-depth blog posting about those who choose to take this path. 

Homey touches everywhere, and plenty of places for these free-range hens to explore
Joy's garden area - the only place the hens are not allowed - and the one place they work at getting into - kind of like kids...
Joy has written a book on chickens called "Egg-Song".  If you are interested, it is only 99 cents to download.  Go to, search for author: Joy Mazeikas, and you will get the link to download the book.  Written as a children's book to introduce children to what having backyard chickens is all about, there is also some great information in there, so the kid in all of us can enjoy.   Joy is also a master gardener; I will be returning to get more information from her and will post that later this summer.   Joy says, “raising hens … is like having a backyard full of comedians”.  

The second stop was at the home of Tim and Becky.  For those who think they don’t have the room to garden, keep hens, etc., check out the pictures of this back yard!

Who would guess by this narrow entrance to the back yard all this family is able to do to be self-sufficient?  Planters on the side are filled with Tomatoes, peas, and other garden goodies.

Although the main place they garden is in a community garden not far from their house, they still have made the effort to grow peas and tomatoes (and probably more) in their small side yard, chickens in the back yard, and keep a bee hive in their other side yard.  Very impressive!  So on a small lot, with a tiny backyard (much smaller than mine), this couple with two growing children supply themselves with veggies, eggs, honey, and fruit from their fruit trees and raspberry bushes.  

Lots of interest on Coop Tour day in the coop Tim built

A closer look at the coop

The "girls" were interested in all the different people visiting

The playhouse that Tim built - even in this small backyard, this family has space for play, growing veggies, raising hens and keeping bees.

The beehive is kept on the far side of the house - under a fruit tree, protected by raspberry bushes gone wild.  Tim and Becky became interested in keeping bees when they noticed that none of the fruit trees on their property were being pollinated.
 I will be returning soon to talk more with them on beekeeping, and their work on being self-sufficient in a urban setting.

My last visit was to the first stop on the tour, the house of Shannon, who is a founding member of the group “Chickens in the City (CITY)”, and who worked really hard to make the first coop tour a success.  Shannon also has a really small backyard; her coop is a converted garden shed behind the garage, home to Matilda, Lucy and Pepper.  Again, I was struck by how little space is needed for someone to start the path to self-sufficiency.

The chicken run

Converted garden shed becomes roosting and egg-laying area for three beautiful girls.

Hens come in all sizes, colors and shapes.  Not sure what kind this one is, but I sure liked those feathers on top.

View from the coop - again, a very small backyard where someone has managed to raise chickens.
I would also like to say for those who are worried about having backyard chickens, that in none of the places I visited did I even notice any smell or a lot of noise - two of the worries that most people worry about when you bring up the subject of keeping chickens in the city.
And for the most part, Salem chicken owners are keeping hens in small back yards - along with doing other activites to be as self-sufficient as possible.  I hope you enjoyed my reporting on the tour.  For more pictures of the coops featured on the tour click on this link:
For more information on CITY, check out their website: 


This is definitely one revolution that is ok to join!

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