The trend of raising backyard chickens has been derided as urban hipness by some, but Kellie Dodson is part of the movement for a simple reason.
"The eggs," the Colorado Springs woman says. "The eggs are phenomenal."
Dodson, who lives east of downtown, got into backyard farming several years ago.
"It started out with health issues with my daughter and my husband," she says. "I started researching food and discovered that there was a lot of crap in the food that we were buying. I started out with a couple of raised beds, and now I have eight raised beds, an herb garden, chickens, ducks, bees."
Colorado Springs restricts backyard flocks to 10 chickens and no roosters. But that's still enough egg-laying power that Dodson sells eggs. She also has ducks and thus duck egg customers. She's had several rounds of chickens, because egg laying declines after a couple of years. She finds forever homes for chickens that no longer produce. None of them, she says, will ever be headed for the dinner table.
A few years ago, she took over management of the annual Take a Peak Chicken Coop Tour from founder John Conner. The 2018 tour is this weekend.
"It is a Parade of Homes for chicken coops," Dodson says. "We try to get people inspired to have chickens. All the host sites are there to answer questions and encourage people to have backyard chickens."
Fourteen coops are on the tour, though not all will take part both days. Several new ones are included this year, Dodson says. Her coop will be among the repeats.
"It is a lot of fun," Dodson says. "We have families that come down from Woodland Park or up from Pueblo. They bring the whole family and make a day of it."
People can spend as little - or as much - as they want on coops. "Some people just grab existing material and create awesome coops," Dodson says. Others buy their coops. "There are some really cool ones out there."
With any coop, keep security in mind, she advises. Dogs, foxes and raccoons are among predators that can devastate a flock. She also suggests a well-insulated - but not heated - coop to keep chickens comfortable in winter.
"It's just so drastic for them to go from a heated coop to outside when the temperatures are really low," she says. She also recommends getting cold-hardy breeds, such as Wyandottes, Red Island Reds and mixed-breed Easter Eggers.
Dodson already is looking ahead to the 2019 tour, which will be the 10th year. "We're hoping to make it a really big thing next year," she says.