May 18: A Fowl Day in JerichoBy Phyl Newbeck For The Essex Reporter
They’ve done garden tours, barn tours, historic home tours and even tours of rock walls but this year the Board of Trustees of the Community Center in Jericho is trying something different: a tour of chicken coops. On Saturday May 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., fowl lovers will have the opportunity to visit 16 coops. Most are in Jericho, but some are in Underhill and there is one in Essex and one in West Bolton.
You may think that all chicken coops are alike but the Board of Trustees begs to differ. Tour organizer Kim Cleary said some people on the tour made their coops out of reclaimed materials, others have transformed old trailers into coops and still others have fashioned coops from new materials and include such amenities as slate roofs and siding. One chicken coop even has its own webcam. “It runs the gamut,” she said “and that’s the beautiful thing about the tour. There’s a lot of diversity in what you’ll encounter. You can go deluxe or down home.”
Kevin Campbell, of Underhill, owns the coop with a webcam. When he put the camera up a little over a year ago his plan had been to use it as a weather camera, but he became more interested in what his chickens were doing. Campbell admits he doesn’t watch the webcam very often but does use it to show off his brood of six to others. The webcam is also useful for spotting predators. Campbell recently noticed a raccoon, which had entered the run when the chickens were in for the night. The next morning he was able to find the hole in the fence through which the raccoon had entered. Since Campbell lost his first chickens to predators, he believes the webcam may help him protect this brood.
Two of the coops on the tour are converted children’s playhouses. At the Mercer household, the younger generation outgrew a playhouse they had never really loved. Kim Mercer said they were thrilled to help make it a home for the chickens, repainting it, building the roosts and nesting boxes and constructing the run. Darcie Renzulli’s neighbor no longer needed one for his kids so her father took it down and repurposed it for her 11 chickens last year. The coop resembles its former structure enough that a friend thought it had been rebuilt for Renzulli’s children rather than her fowls.
Laura Oliver used recycled materials to create a movable chicken tractor for her ten birds. The trailer portion was handed down from neighbors but wooden barn siding came from ReSTORE in Burlington and other pieces came from the ReUse Zone at the Richmond Transfer Station. The family moves the trailer around the yard, depending on the season; the sunniest spot in the winter and shade in the summer. In the winter the coop sits in the garden so the chickens will fertilize the plot, cut down on weeds and break down the compost pile.
It’s hard to predict how many people will sign up for the tour but Cleary believes there will be a good turnout. To the best of her knowledge, nobody has ever done a chicken coop tour in Chittenden County before although she has heard of ones in more urban areas. Cleary believes the “back to land” trend has prompted more people to keep chickens. When she moved to Jericho Center 15 years ago there were no chickens but now the village center sports three different backyard chicken coops. “We could be surprised with the amount of people who attend,” she said.
In addition to the tour, a Funky Chicken Market will be held outside on the Green from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vendors will have chicken-themed artwork and wares, baked goods and other food. In case of inclement weather, the event will be moved indoors to the Community Center. Beth Dezon-Gaillard has lined up 16 vendors for the market including Phoenix Books which will bring chicken-themed books, greeting cards created by Jericho Elementary School students, local artists, and crafts — chicken-themed, of course — including pot holders, pottery and garden sculptures. From noon to 2 p.m., the Milo White Band will play chicken-themed songs.
Lastly, the Board will host an egg hunt using eggs “donated” by the chickens of Jericho Settlers’ Farm on the farm property. The farm is part of the chicken coop tour and the eggs will be hidden around the farm’s solar panels. The hunt will begin at 2 p.m.
Tickets cost $10 in advance and $12 on the day of the tour. Kids under 12 are free. There is no fee to browse the Funky Chicken Market. Tickets can be purchased at the Jericho Center Community Store and Jeri-Hill Hardware.
Jericho-Underhill open studio tour
When: May 25 and 26 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Emile A. Gruppe Gallery, 22 Barber Farm Rd, Jericho
Details: 14 local artists will open their studios to visitors for sales and demonstrations. The artists include: Harold Aksdal, Russ Fellows, Toby Fulwiler, Bruce Gilbert-Smith, Stuart Hall, Mary Hill, Carla Hochschild, Irene Lederer LaCroix, Ken Morris, Carl Newton, Kristen Richland, Kevin Ruelle, Dianne Shullenberger and Gerald Stoner.
NOTE: Check back in the May 23 issue of The Essex Reporter for a full map of artist locations.