Whidbey’s 4-H coop tour is for the birds

Lincoln, Stuart, Sterling and Hannah Bassett helped build the chicken coop that will be a popular part of the upcoming Whidbey Island Chicken Coop Tour, which takes place Saturday, April 21. - Nathan Whalen/The Record
Lincoln, Stuart, Sterling and Hannah Bassett helped build the chicken coop that will be a popular part of the upcoming Whidbey Island Chicken Coop Tour, which takes place Saturday, April 21.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/The Record

The Bassett family built a nice home for their chickens and they want everybody to see it.

Their light blue chicken coop, complete with a large observation window, will be one of the coops featured in the third annual Whidbey Island Coop Tour, which is sponsored by the Rock’n Doodle 4-H Poultry Club.

Todd Bassett said his family completed the project about a year ago. It’s big enough to be the home of a dozen or so chickens, which they raise for eggs. The coop also has a large observation window that gives the coop a feature many homeowners on Whidbey would envy.

“They have a view of Mount Baker,” Bassett said. The chickens indeed have a view of Mount Baker in addition to overlooking the pasture on five acres of property near Oak Harbor. The window does have a practical aspect too. It allows family members to view the chickens from their home.

The Bassett’s blue coop is one of eight enclosures participating in this year’s tour as 4-H Club members are happy to show their coops to the public.

Marci Ameluxen, co-leader for the Rock’n Doodle club, said that coop tours are popular in Seattle and Portland.

Visitors have found the tour useful because they find ideas on how to better house and care for chickens. Ameluxen noted that more people are raising chickens, even if they have the smallest of backyards, because they want to know where their food comes from.

On Whidbey Island, Coupeville and Oak Harbor recently passed rules outlining the guidelines homeowners need to raise chickens in their backyards.

The Rock’n Doodle 4-H Poultry Club currently has 21 members ranging in age from 5 to 18. While Rock’n Doodle focuses on chickens, the other of the nearly

30 4-H Clubs in Island County emphasize such activities as raising cows and sheep, leadership, video production and sustainable farming.

The tour will feature several unique coops standing on the island. In addition to the one with the view of Mount Baker, another one is inspired by Amish designs and would be ideal for smaller backyards. Other owners used recycled items, antique farm materials and rustic wood siding as materials for their coops.

The highlight of the tour will be the “Chicken Olympics,” which take place on the property of one of the coop owners. Chickens will compete in such feather-raising events as the “wheel of doom,” the “teeter-totter of terror” and the “Peruvian bull.”

“It’s hokey and very fun,” Ameluxen said stressing that the chickens are well treated during the light-hearted competition.

The Bassetts also have a host of other animals at their home including ducks, turkeys and a fainting goat.

The self-guided tour is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 21. Tickets and tour maps cost $10 and are available at Skagit Farmers Supply in Freeland and Oak Harbor, the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce and the Bayview Farm and Garden located at Bayview Corner.

Money raised from the Coop Tour will help pay for improvements to the barn at the Island County Fairgrounds and to keep the popular club functioning in Island County. That means it will help pay for the 4-H Club coordinator that works through WSU County Extension. Funding for the position was reduced two years ago, but money was raised to keep the program going by funding the coordinator at half time. That coordinator is needed to ensure the numerous 4-H events go off without a hitch.

For more information about the club, email

To learn about the various 4-H programs throughout Island County, contact coordinator Jackie Vannice at 360-679-7328 or


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