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Chicken dreamers roamed the streets of Salt Lake City on Saturday imagining a day when they, too, would have an industrious chicken living in their backyard.

They inquired and admired as coop owners showed off their fowl houses, each with a little story of its own.

Peck, peck, peck went Josephina before being scooped up in Bhakti Banning's arms. The 67-year-old Salt Lake City resident used to live on a farm in California with 45 dairy goats and 60 chickens. Now her brood is down to three, but she's happy nonetheless.

"Grandma likes the sound of chickens when she sits under the apple tree," Banning said with a smile.

Apparently she is not alone. During Saturday's "Tour de coops," about 100 poultry fans drove, walked and biked between 11 coops across the city.

They paid a small fee to buy a guidebook (T-shirts were for sale, too) and off they flew, clucking praise and questions.

Everyone agreed that chicken coops in Salt Lake City were a hot trend. Some said it was the rising price of food. Others pointed to a spreading interest in locally grown products.

"The more people who can up their production of food and vegetables, the better off we'll be," said Mark Rex, who wants to start building a chicken coop this year.

Then, of course, there's the taste of the eggs.

"They taste a lot better than the ones you get from the grocery store," said Melissa Hardy, as she stood near a coop in Sugar House.

Wasatch Community Gardens, which organized Saturday's tour, estimates more than 300 people in the Salt Lake Valley have chicken coops. Some of those chickens undoubtedly fly under the radar. Only 29 domestic-fowl permits are registered in Salt Lake City.

This past week 80 people - a record number - attended the community garden's urban chicken workshop.

Salt Lake City law says residents can keep up to 25 chickens in a coop at least 50 feet from a home. Permit fees are $5 per bird, not to exceed $40.

The coops on Saturday's tour ranged from an old semi "sleeper" cab to a sturdy hut made of materials collected from people's trash pile.

One was designed by an architect, another started by a chef. Often the coops were only one part of a backyard minifarm with a garden, bees and, at one house, goats.

"Anybody can do it," said John Norborg, as he stood near Laverne's coop.

"It's like growing flowers. Talk to someone who knows."

* For more on chicken coop laws, go to: