Monday, April 18, 2011

Austin's 3rd Annual Funky Chicken Coop Tour

Chickens in the City: Austin's 3rd Annual Funky Chicken Coop Tour

For families looking for something new and different to do this Easter weekend, we invite everyone to come and join the fun at Austin’s Funky Chicken Coops! On Saturday, April 23, 2011, Austin-area poultry keepers will open their backyards to the public for the third year in a row, to show off their chickens and their urban coops. After such a huge turnout for the 2010 tour, with at least 1500 visitors, we knew we'd be having a great time with this year's tour! Chickens and other backyard livestock are growing in popularity. Besides being easy-to-care-for pets, chickens provide insect control, supply delicious fresh eggs, and help create better yards and gardens. Most chicken owners report that it's just plain fun to have them around.

Visitors to the tour sites will see how recycled materials can be transformed into a low-cost coop or how a fashionable coop can enhance a landscape. Our backyard coops show the many ways that chicken (and other poultry) housing can be incorporated into a city residence without violating city ordinances or creating a nuisance. Many of the homes on the tour have featured various alternative energy sources, such as solar panels, along with other environmentally sound practices such as rainwater harvesting and xeriscaping. A lot of the coops on the tour also have interesting and unusual features; for example, one of our tour hosts on this year's tour keeps dairy goats along with chickens and another has a chandelier inside the coop!

Our organization, Austin Funky Chicken Coop Tour, operates in association with another local organization, The Sustainable Food Center, The tour will be a fundraiser for the first time this year, with all proceeds (after expenses) to be donated to the SFC. The SFC will be raffling off prizes donated by our sponsors throughout the day at our Information Center on the day of the tour, located at Buck Moore Feed and Pet Supply at 5237 North Lamar Blvd. All attendees are eligible to enter a free raffle to win a brand new chicken coop from our sponsor Mobile Chicken Coops! The coop will be donated by Josh Hudgins of Mobile Chicken Coops: The drawing will be held shortly after 4:00 pm, following the end of the tour.

2011 will mark the first time for us to offer a commemorative poster. Artist Joe Wirtheim, of, has created unique artwork for the tour. Wirtheim is an artist advocate who is using his art to promote civic innovation and social progress through better food, better gardens, and better cities. These posters are available through his Etsy Store Our commemorative T-shirts, based on the poster design, are available at the SFC Farmer’s Markets as well as Buck Moore Feed and Pet Supply, while supplies last.

Urban chicken-keeping continues to be a growing trend and The Funky Chicken Coop Tour will include coops all over the Austin area. We're hoping to have more people than ever interested in checking out what Austin poultry people are doing to keep their birds housed and happy. Maps to the coop locations can be downloaded from our website at You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Printed copies of the map will be available in limited quantities at select locations, also listed on the website. So, make some time on Easter weekend to check out this free event. The free, self-guided tour will run from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m, rain or shine.

TIME AND DATE: April 23, 2011

10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Rain or Shine



CONTACT: Christy Sanders


RESOURCES: See our website for chicken coop tours in other cities and other urban poultry resources.

***** The Austin Funky Chicken Coop Tour is held in partnership with Sustainable Food Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your contribution as a sponsor is a tax-deductible donation. Proceeds from the event will benefit Sustainable Food Center Thank You For Supporting The Austin Funky Chicken Coop Tour!!!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service has a rich history of providing educational programs based on community needs in Travis County. In order to make sure that the programs being planned for the future are on target, we invite your participation in an Online Issue Forum to identify critical issues that Texas AgriLife Extension could address through educational programs.

If you would like to know more about our Extension program before taking the survey, check out our overview video.

To participate in the online survey go to:

Electronic Issue Identification Forum

The online survey should take you no more that 10 minutes to complete, and will provide us with valuable insight into the issues facing Travis County residents. Your opinion is highly valued, so we truly hope you will take a few minutes to participate.

The online forum is currently open, and will remain open for input until midnight on May 4th. Should you have any problems with the online system, please contact the Extension office at 512-854-9600.

Thank you for taking a few minutes to help chart the course for your Travis County Extension programs.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sowbugs & Pillbugs

Everyone stop and pause and let's all take a deep, collective breath. Okay, now everyone think thoughts of rain- a nice, steady drenching rain.

So what does rain have to do with the pillbugs? Have you noticed pillbugs crawling seemingly everywhere lately? I'm thinking that- at least in my yard- they are anxious to find a nice, moist environment to hang out. Since there hasn't been any rain (let's all agree there's been rain, but nothing significant) and I haven't been watering regularly, the pillbugs are desperate for moisture.

Pillbugs and sowbugs are a type of crustacean and related to crayfish and shrimp. They have oval bodies with 7 pairs of legs and 2 pair of antennae. Sowbugs have two tail-like appendages that come off the end of the abdomen. Pillbugs do not have the appendages, but pillbugs are capable of rolling up into a ball when disturbed (these are what people often call roly-polies).

These are the only crustacea that have adapted to live their entire lives on land, but they still need a moist habitat to survive. They feed on decaying organic matter, but will occasionally feed on tender, young plants. They really don't do a lot of damage when they feed on plants unless you have very large populations.

If you have sowbugs and/ or pillbugs wandering around your home, I wouldn't be too concerend. If they find their way into the house, you can just scoop or sweep them up and move them back outside. When you have large populations causing plant damage try to reduce moisture in the area and remove areas where they might hide (heavy mulch, stones, logs, etc.).