Party with the Animals
BE AN URBAN HOMESTEADER. A small, fervent contingent of urban Portlanders have kept chickens—and even ducks and quail—for nearly 15 years. Now, it’s hard to find a block in the inner city without coops. The word’s out: there’s just no substitute for fresh, organic eggs.
TAKE A TOUR. Every summer, Growing Gardens hosts the annual Tour de Coops. There is no better way to connect with fellow chicken keepers and see the wide range of available coop styles and chicken breeds firsthand. It’s also a great way to see how different people integrate chickens into their garden.
BUILD CHIC ARCHITECTURE. Along with the vogue for backyard animals comes the craze for cool custom chicken coops and goat sheds, and pens in styles ranging from funky salvage to whatever matches perfectly with the architectural scheme of your house. Just make sure the coops and runs you build are designed to keep your creatures safe from marauding raptors, coyotes, and raccoons.
. . . OR A TRAVEL TRAILER. Half the joy in keeping a flock lies in knowing they are improving the health and tilth of your garden. But their little scratching feet can wreak havoc on newly planted seedlings. The solution? A portable chicken tractor, to help you control where the chickens forage.
MOW BILLY. Miniature goats have recently made inroads into Portlanders’ hearts, as well as into empty public lots, where they can chew through a forest of weeds in days. They also make fine pets, but to clear those blackberries or trim the lawn, the cautious can rent some through goatrentalnw.com.Expert Tips
Naomi Montacre | Owner, Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply
The chicken thing all started when I was craving some eggs while we were farming west of Portland and surrounded by neighbors’ early-morning rooster calls. Our first five hens are still spunky members of our bigger flock today, six years later. I love watching little tufts of fluff grow into lively, comical characters with unique personalities. Then there’s the thrill of that first orange-yolked egg from the nest box you built, drinking fresh milk from your own little goats in the backyard, gathering mohair fiber, and having sweet pets to walk around the neighborhood.
Goats, hens, and ducks are really easy to care for, more like cats than dogs once you get their housing set up—and their manure provides great fertility for your garden.
Housing: Buy a coop kit at thegardencoop.com or backyardchickens.com.
Feed: For chickens and goats, grow extra greens (kale, chard, collards, bok choy) and fruits (berries, apples, melons). Goats help keep blackberry bushes at bay, and they all love the berries.