The scoop on coops

CORVALLIS — Just as movie stars were starting to walk the red carpet in Los Angeles on Sunday night, some Corvallis residents were winding down after hours of being displayed, photographed and admired.

Fortunately, they had some nice coops to rest up in.

The second "Cooped up in Corvallis" tour took place Sunday afternoon. The event, presented by the Edible Corvallis Initiative and the Corvallis Environmental Center, sent participants on a self-guided tour of eight of the area's backyard chicken and/or duck coops.

The event was held for the first time last year. Leslie Van Allen, Starker Arts Garden for Education garden manager, said organizers were pleased with the large turnout in 2009 and kept the same basic formula this time around.

"It's just giving people ideas," Van Allen said.

Organizers tried to make sure a variety of sizes, styles and price ranges were represented.

A large-scale example was found at the residence of the Lewis family.

The two-story structure, chicken coop on bottom and play fort on top, drew envious comments from children and adults alike.

"This is in large part a result of (the tour)," said Todd Lewis.

The coop took about three months to build but is worth it.

"The eggs are outstanding," Lewis said.

Patrick and Ellen Koebel, of Corvallis, and their children Anna, 6, and Ryan, 4, also have a penchant for fresh eggs.

"A commercially made egg and a fresh egg are not even the same thing," Patrick Koebel said. "A fresh egg is so much better."

The Koebels already have a coop, but "we wanted to see other peoples' chicken coop designs," Patrick Koebel said.

They think the experience of taking care of animals and chores is a good experience for the kids, too.

Sean and Barb White were chicken-less when they went on the tour last year.

"Basically we just asked a lot of questions about what are the laws in town, how does that work, how much egg production can you expect," Sean White said.

This year, they were one of the stops.

"It's nice to be able to host. We certainly enjoyed the tour last year," Sean said.

The couple is enjoying their feathered friends.

"We love it," Sean White said of the birds. "They're great."

He held one chicken, Nia, for visitors to stroke and admire.

"She is the sweetest, and she's also the leader of the group because she's the biggest," he said.

"She's our best," Barb White agreed. "She's the top of the pecking order. Literally, she is."

One of Nia's most adoring fans was 3-year-old Noah Binder-Vitti, who took the tour with his grandmother, Susan Binder.

"I just thought it would be fun for us to do," said Binder, a Philomath resident.

Chickens can live for more than 10 years, but their egg production slows or stops after about three years.

The Whites haven't decided what they'll do with the birds when they stop laying, but there's not a chance Nia or the others will become dinner.

"Frankly," Barb White said as she looked over the brood, "these are spoiled birds."

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