Chicken Coop Tour 2010

3rd Annual Local Chicken Coop Tour

Has your family ever thought of keeping chickens but you’re just not sure where to begin?  A great place to start is the Pioneer Valley Backyard Chicken Association listserv, started in 2008 by Meg Taylor of Williamsburg, MA.  The listserv is an excellent place to bounce around questions and concerns, or to just lurk and glean information about keeping your own backyard flock.

If you want to get out and see how other families are housing their girls, the Pioneer Valley Backyard Chicken Association will be hosting their 3rd Annual Pioneer Valley Coop Tour on Sunday, April 11th, 2010. Coops of various sizes and designs and the feathered friends that inhabit them will be featured in Amherst, Sunderland, Montague, Whately, Haydenville, and Northampton from 12:30 to 6 pm. See how families in Western MA manage their flocks for fresh eggs, meat, garden compost, and entertainment. This is a FREE tour and a great way to learn about the art and science of keeping a backyard flock. Beginners and children welcome! (No dogs please.)

2010 Coop Tour Schedule:

  • 12:30-1:15 pm in Amherst, MA at Old Friends Farm with Missy Bahret and Casey Steinberg (599 South Pleasant St.). Missy and Casey have been keeping chicken for three years and currently have 200 chickens. Breads include: Barred Rocks, Black Australorps and Auracanas and are incorporated into part of the farms fertility management system. They use a mobile coop on trailer running gear (extended) to manage their flock. 253-9182;
  • 1:45-2:15 pm in Montague, MA at the home of Chris and Greg Pellerin (482 Turners Falls Rd.). Enjoying fresh eggs and fertilzer, Chris and Greg (and their son) have just completed their first year raising 13 chickens in a 4’ x 10’ addition to their barn. Come see their set up and meet their chicken breeds: White Leghorn/Dominique mix, Dominique, Black Australorp, Ameraucana, and Golden Laced Wyandotte.
  • 2:30-3:00pm in Sunderland, MA at the home of Laura and David Grace (47 Howard Hepburn Dr.). Laura and David have five Rhode Island Red and Speckled Sussex’s and they too have just finished their first hear raising a backyard flock. The keep their girls in an Amish style free standing coop- home made with portable fencing, and enjoy the fresh eggs and fun of keeping hens.
  • 3:15-3:45pm in Whately, MA at the home of Cris Coffin and Yo Kinsman (34 Christian Lane). Cris and Yo keep their chickens in a retrofitted wooden playhouse and a run built around a former swing set. They have nine chickens of mixed breeds and have persuaded their daughter that chickens would be more fun and functional than a second dog! 665-9337;
  • 4:00-4:30pm in Whatley, MA at the home of Margaret Christie and Nicholas Jones (175 Chestnut Plain Rd.). Margaret and Nicholas have been keeping chickens for 20 years and have 12 birds they house in a coop/run or chicken tractor. The raise a batch of meat birds every year and will have their slaughter set-up available for people to see. Breeds include Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, and Black Australorps.
  • 4:45-5:15pm in Haydenville, MA at the home of Madge Evers (5 Cider Mill Road). Madge’s flock has been with her for just under a year. She has four hens (Barred Rock & Plymouth Rock) she houses in a 9′ A-frame movable ark for eggs, fertilizer and pure enjoyment. 268-2038;
  • 5:30-6:00pm in Northampton, MA at the home of Elissa Alford (50 Fairview Ave.). Elissa has also been keeping birds for just under a year. She has five chickens, including a Buff Orpington, Barred Rock and a few Easter Eggers
    she houses in a 5 x 4 “playhouse” coop. 587-9954

For more information, contact Meg at

Photo credits: (c) Sienna Wildfield

Chicken Coop Tour 2009


2nd Annual Local Chicken Coop Tour

Going into the hen house

Chicken coop at Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

On Sunday, April 19th, 2009, spend an afternoon in the hilltowns and Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts visiting local coops and the chickens that lay in them. Learn from Pioneer Valley Backyard Chicken Association (PVBCA) hobbyists and farmers how they made their coops and chicken tractors, and how they keep them safe from predators.

General topics will be discussed, including:

  • nest boxes
  • egg production
  • perches
  • light
  • winter concerns
  • outdoor runs
  • breeds

Stops on the tour will include 7 different backyards and farms in Hatfield, Florence, Easthampton, and Chesterfield. Expect lots of useful ideas and even more inspiration. Children welcome. (But no dogs please.) Carpooling appreciated. FREE.

2009 Coop Tour Schedule: 12 pm to 5:30 pm (tour stop addresses can be found below):

  • 12:00-12:30 Pam (Hatfield, MA)
  • 12:45-1:15 Sarah & Tom (Hatfield, MA)
  • 1:30-2:00 Tracey (Florence, MA)
  • 2:15-2:45 Suna & Ben (Florence, MA/Bay State)
  • 3:00-3:30 Adele @ Rocky Hill Co-housing (Florence, MA)
  • 3:45-4:15 Jim @ Park Hill Orchard (Easthampton, MA)
  • 4:45-5:15 Crabapple Farm (Chesterfield, MA)

Sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Backyard Chicken Association.

Chicken Coop Tour 2008

Local Chicken Coop Tour 08

Backyard Chickens - (c) Sienna Wildfield

Backyard Chickens - (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

(Editor note: The 2009 coop tour will be happening April 19th, 2009.  Click HERE for details.)

Has your family been thinking about getting chickens but you’re not sure how to house them? There is a chicken coop tour scheduled on Sunday, July 13th, from 11am-4:30pm to discover how other families in Hatfield, Northampton and Florence are housing their flocks. Organized by the The Pioneer Valley Backyard Chicken Association. [All Ages] (Free)


  1. 11 – 11:30 am
    Sarah & Tom Rossmassler
    100 Main Street, Hatfield
    # of years you have kept chickens: <1
    # of chickens you currently have: 7
    Breeds: Mix (2); Barred Rock (1); Rhode Island Red (4)
    Description of coop/run or chicken tractor: We have a 3′ x 6′ interior coop area which is mostly insulated and has four windows and a mesh floor. Also a fenced in run which is also covered by a roof with a door to exterior. The whole thing lifts like a wheelbarrow and can be moved.
    Why you have a backyard flock: To help us out with an overall goal of being self-sufficient; education for us and our kids; curiosity and interest in farming; and mostly, because it’s fun!
    Favorite chicken resource: Story’s How to Raise Chickens Read the rest of this entry »

Chrysanthemums: In the Garden & On the Dinner Plate

The Queen of the Fall Garden at Smith College

Smith College 2007 Fall Chrysanthemum Show (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Smith College 2007 Fall Chrysanthemum Show (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

On Friday my family stopped by the Fall Chrysanthemum Show at the Botanic Garden of Smith College in Northampton, MA. Cascades of chrysanthemums lined the walls in the Lyman Conservatory, creating an amazing display of “floral pyrotechnics.” Our 5yo daughter went around smelling and counting the different colors that were being displayed, while looking for petals on the ground. She gathered a pretty large collection of fallen petals, storing them in the front pocket of my coat as we strolled around the conservatory. I tried to get her to examine the wide array of petal forms that had been cultivated, but she was more interested in squirreling away the petals found on the ground.

I recommend the show as an community based educational opportunity to supplement a botanical home/school. Explore the rich history of the chrysanthemum and examining the wide array of forms and colors that are cultivated. See if you can get your kids to pick out the different varieties of chrysanthemum forms displayed at the show. Check the show brochure for a list. Click here for printable coloring sheets of different flowering forms.

(c) Hilltown Families - Chrysanthemum Show at Smith College

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

(c) Hilltown Families - Chrysanthemum Show at Smith

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Did you know that chrysanthemum petals are edible? Not that you’d want to eat the petals found on the ground there, like my daughter wanted to do when I told her they were edible. But potted chrysanthemums kept on the kitchen window sill, or petals gathered in the fall from your garden, would be more suitable. The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery by Leona Woodring Smith has a whole chapter on the chrysanthemum with sixteen different recipes that call for chrysanthemum petals.

I found a recipe in Cooking with Flowers: Wherein An Age-Old Art is Revived by Zack Hanle that I’ll share here:


  • 1 dozen fresh lichee nuts (you could probably use the canned ones instead)
  • 2 mangos
  • 2 fresh peaches (and again, probably canned or frozen since peaches might not be around in the fall)
  • 2 large bananas
  • 4 tangerines
  • 1 or 2 large, yellow chrysanthemums
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (maybe more of the whipped cream instead of mayo?)

Peel and slice mangoes, peaches, bananas and place in a salad bowl. Peel lichee nuts (or open the can) and tangerines and remove tangerine segment skins. Add to bowl. Whip cream and fold into mayo (or whip extra cream and skip the mayo). Pour mixture over the fruit. Wash chrysanthemums, drain and remove petals. Scatter over the salad and serve ice cold. Serves 4.

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