Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tacoma Urban Coop Tour, etc.!

We stopped by GardenSphere (3310 N. Proctor) today to get some more chicken feed and were excited to see that they've started to stock Scratch & Peck's feed (starter, layer, and grower).  Scratch & Peck, based out of Bellingham, WA, sources their organic grain locally.

Also, chick season is upon us!  GardenSphere has a beautiful selection of Barred Rocks, New Hampshire Reds, and Partridge Rocks (all hens).

What was most exciting about our visit, however, was our discovery that GardenSphere is sponsoring the first ever Tacoma Urban Coop Tour!  The details:

Date: Saturday, June 25, 2011 
Time: 10 am - 4 pm 
Where: within Tacoma city limits 
More info: Brochure (.pdf); Rules

If you'd like to participate and feature your own coop in the tour, there are a few basic rules (coop must comply with city ordinances, birds must be healthy, etc.).  The application deadline is March 31 (i.e. tomorrow...sorry for posting his so last-minute!), and the application form can either be picked up at GardenSphere or be downloaded here (.pdf file).

We sadly won't be available to have our coop in the tour, but we're looking forward to seeing everyone else's coops!  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chicken Run

Fellow Tacoma chicken enthusiast (and gardener extraordinaire) wildcelticrose posted this lovely video of her recent chicken roundup:

Our girls have been escaping their enclosure a lot lately, too - it must be all of this wonderful sunshine.  Chickens aren't quite bright enough to systematically check a pen for weaknesses, but they're still surprisingly adept at the art of escape, especially when they sense that there's a good supply of worms in the veggie garden.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wendell Berry and Sustainable Cities

Here are a few quotes from the Essay “Out of your car, and off your horse,” by Wendell Berry.  In this essay Berry lays out propositions for making sustainable cities.

“If we want to keep our thoughts and acts from destroying the globe, then we must see to it that we do not ask too much of the globe or any part of it.  To make sure that we do not ask too much, we must learn to live at home, as independently and self-sufficiently as we can.  This is the only way we can keep the land we are using and its ecological limits always in sight.”

“The real work of planet-saving will be small, humble, and humbling, and (insofar as it involves love) pleasing and rewarding.  Its jobs will be too many to count, too many to report, too many to be publicly noticed or rewarded, too small to make anyone rich or famous.”

“To make a sustainable city, one must begin somehow and I think the beginning must be small and economic.  A beginning could be made, for example, by increasing the amount of food bought from farmers in the local country side by consumers in the city.”

I find these quotes to be moving and inspiring for those of us who take on the challenge of urban farming.  Wendell Berry is insightful and visionary in his writing and if you are interested in the culture and politics of agriculture and food, I would encourage you to check out his works. 

Friday, March 18, 2011


My hometown's newspaper (in Billings, Montana) had an article today about a seriously enormous egg laid by a local backyard chicken.  Impressive stuff.  (And, fortunately, the hen survived!)

Billings Gazette: Lockwood chicken lays massive egg

(It dwarfs the egg our girl Petunia laid back in the fall of 2010).  

Monday, March 14, 2011



When we initially decided to start a backyard flock, we were a bit concerned about our neighborhood's cat population. There are lots of cats that consider our backyard to be part of their territory - some are feral, some have homes.

The morning after our hens spent their first night in their outdoor coop, there were multiple cats perched on top of the coop trying to size up the birds. We shooed them away, and they soon lost interest.

We like to let the girls out of their run to stretch their legs and munch on fresh grass (their pen gets awfully muddy during the rainy winter months), so we were especially watchful at first, since there would be no protective barrier of chicken wire between the hens and the cats.

I'm not sure if our experience is typical or not...but we've had absolutely no problems with the cats. Cats still like to come through the yard while the chickens are out, but once those girls fluff up their feathers, the cats are gone in an instant. For the most part, the chickens don't even bat an eye while the cats circulate around them.

I took the above photo this afternoon - a neighbor's new kitten had gotten a bit too close, so Penny stared her down until she ran away. (Note: Penny's molting right now and isn't looking her prettiest).

The biggest danger for our hens is at night, when they're sound asleep and unaware of impending danger. Otherwise, they seem to intimidate the daytime predators.

Have any of our readers encountered any cat problems?

Update: I came upon this lovely photo at South Sound Hounds today. How peaceful!

More reading: