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This Tour Isn't For The Birds

MONMOUTH -- When Monmouth and Independence passed ordinances last year allowing residents to keep chickens in their backyards, Domenica Protheroe's dreams took flight.Protheroe, along with cohorts Melinda Bermudez and Sue Barker, formed M-I Chicken Revolution to promote the practice of keeping egg-laying hens in backyard chicken coops.Known in certain circles as "The Chicken Lady," Protheroe worked tirelessly to get the two ordinances passed.That was just the beginning.Coops started popping up across Monmouth and Independence soon after the ordinances passed.The group then began planning for a two-city coop tour to show residents the ease and fun of keeping chickens."There are dozens if not hundreds of coop tours now in the nation," Protheroe said. "Coop tours are a celebration and promotion of sustainability."The inaugural Monmouth-Independence Chicken Coop Tour takes place Sunday and focuses on smaller, backyard coops. Two larger coops will be highlighted, as well.The four-hour, self-guided tour takes participants to eight coops around Monmouth, Independence and Dallas.Tickets run $6 per vehicle and can be picked up at businesses across Polk County, as well as Salem and Keizer. Proceeds will go toward the costs of producing maps for the tour and funding next year's tour.The annual Salem tour is taking a hiatus this year, leaving a gap that Protheroe is hoping to fill."Salem's tour last year sold 200 vehicle tickets. The year prior to that they sold 100," Protheroe said. "It's gonna be really unclear since this is our first year. I don't expect 200, but we are trying to throw the net out really wide."Bermudez Family Farm, owned by Bermudez and situated between Dallas and Monmouth, keeps around 40 chickens, much more than most area residents are allowed; Dallas, Monmouth and Independence ordinances allow residents to keep no more than five birds inside city limits."Because we're out in the country, we're a little bit different than the in-town setups," Bermudez said. "We're going to be showing off the equipment that we use on processing days."Most residents taking part in the coop tour aren't likely to venture into the purely commercial arena like the Bermudez farm, but can gain from the experience of setups like theirs.Marge Jacob's 14-chicken coop is another stop on the tour. Jacob is excited to have interested residents stop by to see how easy chicken keeping can be."We had chickens almost four years ago. The coop was smaller then," Jacob said. "We thought it might help to see that small coops can be built pretty efficiently. Chickens aren't that much trouble." Check It Out What: Monmouth-Independence Chicken Coop Tour. Where: Eight stops across Monmouth, Independence and Dallas. When: Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost: $6 per vehicle. Tickets can be purchased at several area businesses listed on the website below. For more information: www.micooptour.com. Of note: Same day tickets can be purchased at 1945 Riddell Road, Dallas.

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