This weekend marked the fifth annual Tour de Coop, showcasing Bainbridge Island chicken coops for the chicken curious and experienced, with proceeds going to support Helpline House.
Saturday started cloudy but opened into a sunny and warm day, perfect for preening hens and their preening keepers.
This year’s Tour featured more bikers, more beekeeping, no roosters, fewer cookies, the usual map snafu, and perhaps more seasoned coopsters than usual.
Tracy and Paul Dunn, for instance, have been chicken farmers for some 10 years. They inherited a used coop from a neighbor and have been tweaking it ever since. They utilize the poop from their seven chickens as fertilizer for their garden; hence their coop name Permaculture Hen House. Car-free, the Dunns use bicycles as their main means of transport. Good thing they are on the upside of Arrow Point Drive (Devil’s Dip).
The Sunny Side Up Ludwig coop, built by Kristy Ludwig’s father Bill Davison and Todd Ludwig, is a spacious place with clear, light-friendly roofing. Their kids play next to the coop on Todd’s home-built play structure. Located near a long-time animal path to the Grand Forest, the Ludwigs get regular visits from coyotes and raccoons and recently lost 10 of their 18 hens to predators during the day as the hens roamed in the yard.
Ed Hager (not Hagar) built his Chicken Palace in the spring of 2009, also using clear roofing, a walk-in-height design, and tight fencing to resist even the smallest of rodents. Hager also lost a significant number of hens—5 of 10—to predators while they were free-ranging in his impressive vegetable garden. Now on the alert, Hager is keeping his flock under close watch. For the Tour he displayed a series of photos showing his coop-building process.
Aptly named, the Saltbox Coop is located off of Pleasant Beach Road on Lytle Road with a stunning view overlooking Lytle Beach. Owners Bonny Zuckerman and Berg Danielson (the builder), with spectacular gardens on the property, sell their coops, including a portable “ark.”
The busy purple coops of Paulson Farms (behind the Manzanita Road Christmas tree farm), owned by Carol Rolph and Mike Paulson, are made of wood milled and constructed by Mike. The Farm includes a large hen coop and another separate chick coop. Charming art, mainly of birds, adorns the farm.
Jim Ewing and Ishya Silpikul are the proud owners of Mad Valley Micro Farm, off of Valley Road. Their unique coop is built on wheels so Jim can transport it every few weeks to different areas of their property for hen grazing. The couple has a solar-powered deer fence, as well as plans to raise bees, apples, and a small vineyard on their sunny property. When I was there, the hens were chillin’ in the shady lee of the coop.
Anne and Will Smart added chickens to their Manzanita Bay property last year. Surrounded by flowers, willow trees, and the bay, the Smart garden was featured on the Bainbridge in Bloom 2011 Garden Tour. I got to see it this year for the chickens and admire it all over again. Will built the coop with repurposed antique windows, copper gutters, and a red door. Anne also has added bees to her garden and is considering goats. My last stop on a long day of biking ended pleasantly on the Smart porch with a generous glass of wine and lively conversation.
Here are some hen highlights:
- Chicken Curious or Crazed? Take the 2013 Tour de Coop
- The 2012 Tour de Coop Scoop & Photo Gallery
- The 2011 Tour de Coop Scoop
- Tour de Coop 2011: Chicken Dumpling Photo Gallery
- Bucks for Clucks: Tour de Coop 2011 Earnings
- How I Reluctantly Became a Hen-Struck “Chicken Sucker”
- Keys to Keeping Healthy, Happy, Productive Hens
- Bainbridge Island’s “Happy Chicken Sign” Lady Brings Style to Urban Farming
Photos by Julie Hall.