Tour one-of-a-kind Vt. chicken coops - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Tour one-of-a-kind Vt. chicken coops

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ESSEX, Vt. -

Photographer John Churchman's favorite subjects are ones with attitude. One-hundred chickens are his models. No, really. He takes their photos for high-end chicken catalogs.

Reporter Gina Bullard: What is it like working with models? Are they high maintenance?

John Churchman: No, they're easy. You just basically have to feed them and take care of them.

Around 25 lay eggs and the rest are roosters. They live in four coops he built from the ground up.

"This one's divided into two sections. The roosters are on that side as you saw and on this side is where the layers are," Churchman said.

These hen houses, along with 15 others, will be on display for the 2013 Chicken Coop Tour in Underhill, Jericho and Essex. Money raised will go toward the Community Center in Jericho.

Gina Bullard: Are you proud of your chicken coops?

John Churchman: Oh, I love my chicken coops.

"They really run the gamut. There's some interesting and amazing setups out there," said Kim Cleary of the Community Center in Jericho.

Along with Churchman's collection of 40 different heritage breeds, his draining compost floors are unique.

"You just keep building it up with shaving to keep it fairly hygienic, so there's not the phenomenal smell," Churchman explained.

At Donna Martin's home in Underhill, her houses are often referred to as the Taj Mahal of coops.

Donna Martin: It's not very lavish inside.

Gina Bullard: It looks lavish from the outside.

Donna Martin: Nah! No!

Gina Bullard: Why did you want to have a pretty chicken coop?

Donna Martin: Why not? It probably didn't cost a whole lot more to put up a very nice coop.

Martin and her husband used reclaimed doors and windows, a slate roof and insulated the chicken and duck coop so water doesn't freeze in the winter.

"Most people don't believe it's a coop, they think it's a studio!" Martin said.

"People really take pride in their coops," Cleary said. "They want them to be creative and have some spunk and each one has great little details that are unique to the person that made them."

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