Planning Your Tour

With so many coops and catios to visit today, your best strategy is to pick the ones you want to see most and visit them first. It doesn’t hurt to pick ones that are grouped in similar neighborhoods as it, as well.

Spotlight on Roseville & Falcon Heights

This beautiful neighborhood sports one coop, pictured below plus two neighboring coops already featured on an earlier blog

Hens & Sensibility

Toby’s Catios

The Love Cats Shack is Finished

As my fellow foster volunteers with the Bitty Kitty Brigade would agree, this catio, Love Cats Shack improves daily. I’m confident it will be done by 10 a.m. on Saturday morning! Or at least complete enough for the cats not to escape from it and the visitors to enjoy it.

A work in progress

Project Managers, Ni-Ni (Chenille) and Hyppolite, recently joined our family from The Bitty Kitty Brigade. They were two of a litter of five kittens that were so friendly and fun we wanted to keep them all and ended up persuading friends to adopt the rest. In foster parlance this is called a “foster fail,” however we feel like we won. (Honestly, I would have happily adopted all of the 25+ cats I’ve fostered.)

Harness Walking Insufficient say the Cats

Our two Francophone kids bought them harnesses so they could take the cats for walks. The cats love going outside! No they really love going outside, which is a nice way of saying they try to dash out the door constantly. The harness walking only whetted their appetites for the outdoors, hence the formerly awkward alcove on our deck is now an enclosed catio that will soon have a cat door directly into our dining room.

Ça pas suffit!

Ni-Ni et Hyppolite

The Builders

Built by one of my sons and his father, our catio is safe and sturdy, but will not win any awards at a carpentry show. However the cats cannot escape! The birds in the yard are safe. And we can leave the front door open for more than five seconds without one escaping!

Les chats et le chien francophones

Our cats and dog understand French because it is the only way I can get the kids to speak French. It’s a funny thing being an adult who learned French in college and who will forever sound like an American to hear her children speak French as they do English with the most beautiful accents. That is if she can get them to speak French. I’ve let them mock my accent, I encourage them to ask me how to say the most difficult words I can think (écureuil and feuille) just to hear them laugh and correct me, but nothing works better to them to speak French than teaching our dog French.

Every time Hershey heard the word “walk” or any of its synonym, she would go nuts. So we switched to French thinking we could talk about her without her understanding. I mean, after all, isn’t that the best revenge among siblings with different language skills? It took her about two weeks before she learned the meaning of, “Je promène le chien.”

Tu veux faire une promenade?

The Seward Trifecta: A Coop, a Catio, AND a Builder

The Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis is this tour’s hotbed of cool places to visit! There’s the Seward Spice Girls, the Cat Sanctuary, and our latest addition, Ken the Catio Builder. That’s not his real company name, it’s HomeProud Handyworks. And they recruited one another to the Tour.

The Spice Girls of Seward

The Spice Girls of Seward enjoy a lovely garden to dust bathe, hunt for grubs, frolic happily. Their coop is a repurposed play house amended with used building supplies.

The Cat Sanctuary

Lynn calls her catio, a cat sanctuary because she likes rescue cats! “Nanny (Goat)” was a rescue feral kitten (she has a ruff under her chin, hence the name). “Socks” came from the Feline Rescue whose nick name is “Orca Kitty” because she’s a large tuxedo cat. However, Lynn says she is so sweet that she doesn’t live up the to whale nickname.

Equally impressive to rescuing cats is the fact that Lynn built her catio herself. She’s updating right now, so you may not see the cats in it on Saturday.

Ken the Catio Builder

Ken will be off building Saturday, so he asks that you view his catio from the sidewalk.

The catio is best viewed from the end of the brick wall by the garage along 24th Street, looking east at the back end of the house where the catio is.  If my greyhounds are in the yard they will likely say “howdy” over the brick wall to anyone who stops by to take a look at the catio – they are very friendly! 

Ken, the Catio Builder

Cozy Coop in a Charming South Minneapolis Garden

When Marisa lost her job as a museum exhibit developer due to Covid, she didn’t sit back and watch TV! She built a coop and found a new career in library information sciences. She might want to add “place maker” to her résumé because she created a in oasis and South Minneapolis.

Another stunning example of upcycled building materials, gorgeous gardens, and thoughtful chicken keepers.#BackyardChickens  #UrbanFarming #EggplantFarmSupply #CoopCatioTour

Smart Coop with a Raspberry Pi

When my then six year old asked for a pet we settled for raising Chickens back in 2019. One thing I realized quickly is how creative people are in building their coop and organizing mundane things like feeders and waterers.

When Do We Have Eggs?

At some point in our journey I decided to build a Raspberry Pi based notification system when eggs are laid. It has definitely brought my creative skills to the forefront. My kids are also always fascinated with studying chicken behavior and are engaged year round. We are very grateful to have this opportunity as I know not every city allows it.

TWO Catios and a Gorgeous Garden

Meet Susan and Toby, one of the luckiest cats in Falcon Heights! Toby has a free standing catio, called the Cottage that Susan purchased from Wayfair plus an attached Penthouse catio.

Toby’s Attached Penthouse

Susan’s partner built Toby’s attached penthouse catio which Toby can enter via a special door from Susan’s screened porch vs. being carried for visits to the cottage. Being a very snuggly cat, Toby enjoys being carried to the cottage, but we’re pretty sure he enjoys the independence of choosing when he wants to play outside and chatter with the bees and birds courtesy of Susan’s glorious garden.

Gardens Enchant Toby

The abundant blooms naturally attract bees, butterflies and songbirds which make Toby’s outside time even more enriching.

Next Stop: Next Door!

Toby’s neighbor has a catio, too! So be sure to visit these Falcon Heights gems on the tour.

Check Back Soon for Video of Toby in Action

South Minneapolis Family Builds a Coop: A Bright Spot from Covid

This roomy coop is a bright spot for this South Minneapolis family when suddenly few people could go anywhere. They obviously made good use of the time researching chicken coops and recycling building supplies from a family member’s construction project.

Check back tomorrow for videos introducing the girls: Lizzo, Feather Feet, Onyx, and Honey Babe and the super cool feeding system that Melissa fashioned from a bucket and PVC pipe.

A Simple Coop in St. Paul with Rooftop Herb Garden

Our coop is now 8 years old. And it isn’t quite as pristine as it was in the old photo above. However, it has safely housed about a dozen chickens over the years despite all kinds of Minnesota weather. The green roof was an example of sustainable building design well before that was a common topic. It’s also the only garden the chickens have not completely eaten. (And we know they like Basil and Parsley.)

Our goal in raising backyard chickens (besides having fresh eggs every day) was to teach our children where food really comes from. While none of them wants to become a farmer, we’re pretty sure they understand the work involved in feeding. cleaning up after, and protecting a living food source. (Two points for the family!) The last of our kids is more than ready to pass the feeding duties onto someone else.

Although our St. Paul yard is small, my only regret is that we hadn’t made the coop bigger. It would be lovely not to test our knees every time we cleaned the coop! We’re pretty sure when the catio is complete the chickens will ask to move in, too!

Photo Blogs Before Instagram

If you’re interested in more photos, I spent a year (before Instagram) photographing the girls and the coop daily. I like to think my photography skills improved over the year, regardless, it was a fun project.

How to Make the Most of the Tour

We expect guests and hosts to be on their best behavior and that everyone will have a fantastic time. However, “best behavior” is different for everyone (just ask any parent…) Thus, we’re sharing some tips for guests today.

Come Prepared

  • Keep in mind that these are private residences and the homeowners are graciously sharing their coops and catios with tour guests
  • Bring water, a notebook and pen, camera, sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen.
  • Understand that you may need to park several blocks away. City yards often lack adequate pathways for wheelchairs and strollers.

Ask

  • Ask the host if it is OK to take photos (most will say yes), then be sure to turn off the location setting on your camera or phone.
  • Ask if the host minds if you share your photos on social media (most will say yes, so use the tour hashtag #CoopCatioTour, but again not their address).
  • Ask questions, but understand that your host may not be able to answer all of your questions if there are other people who also need help. Don’t monopolize the host’s time with endless questions!

Say Thank You!

  • Do compliment the host on what you like.
  • Ignore what you don’t care for; you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t love animals, so remember the cats and chickens you meet are very important to their families. And their design choices may not be to your taste.

What Not to Do

  • Don’t bring pets.
  • Don’t bring youngsters unless they’re under your complete control at all times. Ask your host before using a stroller in the garden.
  • Don’t arrive before the tour officially begins, and don’t stay after it ends.
  • Don’t smoke or picnic in someone’s yard.
  • Don’t ask to use the bathroom.