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Coop deluxe

Callene Glabau's feathered friends are living in style in their spiffy Lake Oswego Old Town neighborhood chicken coop
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Callene Glabau no longer needs to watch television.

The tube cannot compete with the show right in the backyard of her home in Lake Oswego, featuring entertainers named Molly, Polly, Large Marge, Olive, Minerva, Priscilla, Roxanne and Scarlet.

It is an all-chicken real life review, and Glabau keeps a couple chairs in front of their pen so she can watch them at any time.

'They are such little characters!' said Glabau.

It is thanks to Glabau herself that her eight chickens live in such great style. After 22 years of living in her Old Town home, she was seized with the inspiration to build a chicken coop, and it is a thing of beauty: A large, richly varnished shed with sort of stained glass windows on the front. The roof is covered with pleasing vegetation. There are automatic doors of which the chickens let themselves in every night at 8:30 so they can go to bed. There is even a tiny chair inside the pen for the birds to sit on.

'It took a lot to get it perfect,' Glabau said. 'It must have cost me about $500, plus fencing. It went really slow. I worked two months on it, designing it as I went along. I got to have fun with my artistic side.'

It certainly seems that the chickens know how good they have it as they strut around their little yard.

The only jarring note in their rainbow-like lives is Sox the cat ('He's such a character'), but his visits to their pen are not due to hunger. In fact, his motives are similar to those of Glabau -entertainment and curiosity.

'It's so funny just to watch them,' Glabau said. 'To watch them set their pecking order, climb the steps, preen their feathers and take dust baths. It's really comical to watch them chase each other around. They think they're dinosaurs.

'I wonder what is being said and what's really happening.'

Glaubau often has company.

'My teen kids like them,' she said, 'and my husband talks to them.'

The enviable eight love their home so much that when one accidentally gets out, the others get upset while it desperately tries to get back in.

Glabau sometimes goes into a pen to grab one of her pets, but chickens have an odd way of moving just fast enough to stay out of your grasp.

Except for some light clucking, the chickens hardly make any noise.

'Their whole goal is to forage and eat,' Glabau said.

Her chicken farming experiment began at the Urban Farm Store in Portland, which provided lots of boxes, equipment, her 'chicken bible,' and, of course, the chickens.

'I started out with three,' Glabau said. 'Then I said, 'I want more!' The number grew to nine.' (The odd chicken out was a rooster which had to go when it started to crow.)

Certainly, the beautiful birds are entertaining and educational. But they have to start earning their keep because Glabau has to recoup her investment. They won't be expected to lay golden eggs. Just blue-green ones.

'I got them in March, so they'll probably start laying them at any time,' Glabau said. 'I wanted the chickens to lay fresh eggs. I'm sure the eggs will really add up. I'm sure they'll start laying in August. They'll be 4½ months old by then.'

What won't Glabau do to make her chickens happy? She does have some limits.

'I won't have a symphony out here playing for them,' she said.

Yet Glabau's chicken ambitions are great, not just for herself but for the whole town.

Her motto is: 'A chicken in every yard.'