Saturday, June 11, 2016

2016 Coop Tour

Jay, Matt, Marisa and I participated in the June 4, 2016 Mad City Coop Tour, a self-guided tour of 11 chicken coops around Madison and surrounding suburbs that (presumably) allow back yard chickens.

The weekend before the tour Jay and I cleaned out the coop, just like you would if you were having guests over for supper. We changed out the bedding, scrubbed down the walls and power washed the exterior to take off a year of dust. I also cleaned out a layer of litter and chicken poop from the run, and discovered that indeed, our decision to fill the run with gravel was a very, very bad idea. (The sand had filtered down to below the gravel, and digging out the run brought lots of gravel with it. Once composted, I will have to sift out the gravel. My long-term goal is to dig out all the gravel (a couple yards of it) and replace with sand which we’d replenish once a year.)

The tour lasted from 9 AM to 1 PM. Jay and I had the first shift from 9 to 11, after which I took my nieces and nephew to the children's opera for a 45-minute version of “The Magic Flute." We set a table with literature that the coop tour organizers provided, a stack of magazines, a few printed maps of the other coops on the tour, and some snacks. We also had a foot washing station for people to step into — a 1:32 solution of bleach to water to help prevent the spread of disease from coop to coop. The 2015 Coop tour was canceled due to an outbreak of bird flu in Wisconsin. Fortunately, that your I did not hear of any backyard flocks affected by the disease, but several large-scale poultry operations had to destroy it many, many birds and the coop to organizers did not want to take that risk.

I really enjoyed putting together a slide show of the coop building and the first year of the bird’s growth, and printed it out for people to page through. I thought you’d enjoy seeing in, and thanks to the Internet and decent bandwidth, you can download a Powerpoint or a PDF of the show to see photos of the coop construction and photos of our birds.

PowerPoint Coop tour slide show (this will start a download, after which you can open in PowerPoint)

PDF Coop tour slide show (this will open as a PDF. For best results, after opening, select the "expand" icon (see example at right) to view in full screen.)

Jay and I prepared a table with sprinkles of rain in the air. The light drizzle passed before the tour started.

I created signs to hang on the coop to highlight some of our favorite features and lessons learned.

The coop tour organizers even provided us with sidewalk chalk -- we marked the road too.

So impressed with the tour organizers, they provided magazines, extra maps and other literature. We added some of our favorite books and the snacks.

All set and ready to tour.