by Heidi Grieser
With the recent changes in city ordinances making it easier to raise chickens in urban environments, the debut of ‘Chickoopy’ at the downtown Farmer’s Market is making a squawk. The team of three siblings and their spouses behind Chickoopy has put together a package deal that delivers an innovative coop on wheels (made to be moved around your backyard), plus chickens already laying eggs, enough feed for 2-3 months, and a consultation to teach you everything you need to know about chickens.
Chickoopy consultant, Jarod Turner said, “We feel like we’re just ahead of the trend. Next spring it’s really going to take off.” Jarod is an international business attorney by day and began Chickoopy with his family as an extension of his life-long love of animals. “My Grandpa encouraged me to keep birds. I was really into sports so I kept my love of animals a secret,” said Turner.
It’s a good thing Turner is out in the open because his chickens lay amazingly tasty and healthily eggs daily. The chickens are labeled free ranging because you are supposed to move the coop every few days to give them fresh access to grass and insects and to prevent waste buildup. The eggs from grass grazing chickens have been shown to lower the cholesterol and have double the beta carotene.
I go to meet the Maires family and see the six hen set-up they are allowed to keep in their Draper backyard. They have fenced in the coop and keep it stationary, and then put their table scraps and compost in the pen as well,so next year they can plant a garden in that well fertilized spot. In the evenings the Maires even let their chickens roam around their backyard because they are so domesticated.
What really amazes me about the Maires family is how educated the four children are about their food. Not just how to take care of their chickens- even the youngest, 5-year-old Eli, has seen movies like Food Inc. which are critical of the industrial food complex.“We treat our chickens well because we saw how bad it was in the [Food Inc.] movie. It’s just not right,” says 12-year-old Ellie, who initially had objections to her mom’s idea to raise backyard chickens. Ellie explains that she was embarrassed because she read in a book that chickens would tear up their yard. They did not. Instead, “neighbors and friends come over to visit them,” said Ellie.
Everyone in the family enjoys them for different reasons. Ellie likes the “pecking order” although they are “stupid,” some are in charge and boss the others around. The youngest Eli says, “they kind of look like dinosaurs,” and with older brother Gabe, enjoys feeding them grasshoppers. The oldest, Mikhail, thinks “they are cute,” and her mom does a good job cooking their eggs.
Amy Maires tried to get a chicken coop from her husband for Christmas, and finally got one through Chickoopy. “I don’t care how other people eat, I care how we eat,” said Amy, who says she has eaten an egg every day for five years and loves them. She had many chronic health problems until she was finally diagnosed with food allergies (glutin and dairy). “It’s unfortunate when it takes something bad, to get you doing something really good,” said Amy.
Although Chickoopy is a new company and only making sales through their excellent website and at the Farmers Market, people as far as Wyoming and Idaho are contacting them for coops. Jaycee, one of the sisters in the partnership says they have a do-it-yourself kit on the drawing board so they can begin shipping nationally. Chickoopy brother-in-law and Mechanical Engineer, Andy Evans spent two months building the first prototype, so before you drop $2,000 buying tools, materials, and chickens, head down to the Farmers Market and check out Chickoopy.§