The chic of chicken coops and other updates

Chico isn’t “Chic-o” or “Chick-o” when it comes to chickens

Chicken coops, Part 1
What is up with Chico and chickens? Why is a seemingly progressive town like ours so behind the times when it comes to keeping chickens? Other cities—bigger and thus more urban than ours—actually celebrate the increasingly popular practice of raising chickens with events such as the 2010 Tour de Coops on July 24, up in Portland, Ore., a self-guided tour featuring 25 backyard chicken coops.

Farther up the way, the city of Seattle hosted its City Chicken Coop Tour 2010 on July 10, at which tour-takers got to see the gamut of coops, from basic to two-storied to chicken “castles” and cottages to Craftsman-style coops. (Coop-building has become an art in many communities.)

Cities around the country—such as Austin, Texas; Atlanta; and Alameda, Calif., which hosted the Alameda Backyard Chicken Coop Bicycling Tour on May 16—are now hosting annual chicken-coop tours.

Face it: Chickens are quieter than many dogs, they make sweet pets, they’re great for garden insect control and fertilizer production, and they lay eggs (the freshest, most healthful egg you’ll ever eat).

Time to get chicken-chic, Chico.

Pretty plant pictures
I recently got an e-mail from local botanist Rod Lacey, who is on the Friends of the Chico State Herbarium board of directors, telling me the results of the Students’ Plant Photo Contest held at the herbarium’s second annual Open House back in mid-May.

“Over 30 entries were received this year, an increase over last year’s total entries,” said Lacey of the grades six-12 contest. “Participating schools included Red Bluff High School, Hamilton High School, Chico High School, Los Molinos High School, Pleasant Valley High School, Paradise High School, and Bidwell Junior High School.”

Julianne Biffaretti, who attends Los Molinos High School, took first place with “Sweet California,” a lovely close-up photograph of a bee visiting a California poppy. Second prize went to Hamilton High’s Karlene Shippelhoute for her delightful “Cucumber Swirls” (pictured), and Katie Beal of Paradise High took third for her evocative “Trillium Flower.” Biffaretti, for her part, won $100 plus free admission to a CSU Herbarium workshop.

“We sponsor this event to encourage students to consider the natural world and the natural sciences prior to making a career decision after high school graduation,” Lacey wrote. “Fields of study including botany have experienced an expansion of professional opportunities over the last several years while college enrollment in traditional natural sciences has sharply declined. We need our younger generation to know that working with water, plants, animals, wildlands, soils, etc., is a rewarding career path with ample opportunities in our beautiful region, and we would encourage them to join us in studying, valuing, and promoting our natural wealth!”


A taste of Tyson
My favorite cowboy-farmer, Tyson Heusser, who runs the Green Beginnings CSA in Gridley, recently announced the availability of CSA boxes without buying a season-long subscription. For $23, “[i]t’s a great way to sample our CSA boxes, and we’ve got several different summer crops that will be in upcoming boxes,” writes Heusser. “Give us a week’s notice and we’d love to have one ready for you!” Contact him at <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,103,114,101,101,110,98,101,103,105,110,110,105,110,103,115,64,108,105,118,101,46,99,111,109,34,62,103,114,101,101,110,98,101,103,105,110,110,105,110,103,115,64,108,105,118,101,46,99,111,109,60,47,97,62)) } </script> or (208) 851-8049, or visit him at the new Chico Certified Farmers Market at the North Valley Plaza Mall on Saturdays from 7 a.m.-noon.

Help for Habitat
Darlene Giampaoli, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Butte County, informed me that the agency is looking for community volunteers (aged 16 or older) interested in helping construct the three new homes in its eco-friendly Habitat Greens subdivision on East 16th Street in the Chapman neighborhood. No prior experience necessary. Contact Giampaoli at 343-7423 for more info.