Sandpoint’s inaugural “Coop Crawl” revealed a significant interest in urban poultry among sophisticated city dwellers. Organized by three chicken aficionados in the south end of town, and arranged as a fundraiser for the healing garden at the hospital, it drew a quite a crowd of chardonnay-sipping backyard coop viewers.
The first stop was at the home of Sandpoint planning director Jeremy Grimm, where several different kinds of cluckers pecked about for bugs in the garden. Poultry fanciers toured the chickens’ coop, which was sandwiched between the back door and the back fence, while Grimm eagerly explained the many advantages of their presence. In case anyone wondered about his role in this undertaking, he wore a helpful name tag that identified him as “Chickens’ Dad.”
Several blocks away, tourists met Bev Kee along with Stella and Buffy, two of four chickens who had been left as baby chicks last year on her desk in the office of Boyle Platte & Kee CPAs. The lone male among them, having demonstrated an urban-inappropriate penchant for crowing at inconvenient hours, had been sent off to a foster home in Boundary County.
The other three, including the late lamented Penny as well as Stella and Buffy, were well known among the neighbors, having wandered the neighborhood freely until they netted themselves a ticket from the city’s animal control office. On the ticket, a checkbox next to “roaming dog” had been checked off, and the word “dog” had been crossed out and replaced with “chickens.” Since then, Stella and Buffy have been spending their days in poultry daycare across the alley and come home to their coop after work. (Penny, sadly, met her end a few weeks ago at the paws of a neighborhood raccoon.)
The last stop was at the home of Charles and Kimberly Manning. Charles was sorry that their coop, which he built to match their house, was not yet painted at the time of the tour. But a touring member of the city’s planning and zoning commission admired how the chickens’ housing met the requirements of recently written code for accessory dwelling units (for people; comparable units for animals are as yet unfettered by design requirements) in mimicking the style of the house to which it was an accessory.
Kee instigated the Coop Crawl after attending a similar event in Moscow, at which a much larger number of coops were up for touring. At this year’s event, several chicken fancying residents wondered when it had become allowable to keep chickens in the city, and they learned that it has, in fact, always been okay, as long as the chickens were of the sort that supplied eggs rather than wake-up calls.
Now that they’re informed, perhaps next year’s Coop Crawl will feature far more coops (and chickens) for urban owners to crow about.