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News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Los Altos chicken enthusiasts cluck about inaugural Tour de Coop


Photo By: ELLIE VAN HOUTE/TOWN CRIER
Photo Ellie Van Houte/Town Crier

Los Altos Hills resident Scott Vanderlip prepares his chicken coop for the inaugural Tour de Coop Oct. 27.

Los Altos’ feathered population is burgeoning, and local owners have devised creative ways to house their cherished chickens.

Between 10 and 20 families plan to showcase their chicken coops 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 27 in the inaugural Silicon Valley Tour de Coop, a cycling tour. Short 2- to 5-mile routes and longer routes of 20 miles will allow cyclists of all skill levels to join backyard chicken owners, or “coopsters,” to examine hen houses, honeybee hives and urban gardens in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Palo Alto.

“Raising chickens is a great way for neighbors to share and connect with a common activity that not only creates fabulous eggs, but also builds community,” said Los Altos Hills resident Scott Vanderlip.

According to Vanderlip, the city of Davis’ successful Tour de Cluck inspired him to organize the Tour de Coop.

In addition to promoting the benefits of chicken ownership, Vanderlip said he hopes the tour will connect coopsters and make them feel they are part of a movement bigger than their own backyards.

Vanderlip estimated that residents of every five to 10 homes in Los Altos Hills own flocks of chickens. The town’s 1-acre zoning allows property owners to maintain chickens, goats, cows, horses and other large animals. The city of Los Altos permits homeowners to raise one hen for every 1,000 square feet of space.

People are attracted to backyard chickens, Vanderlip noted, because they’re inexpensive – $3 or $4 per chick.

“It’s a nice, closed system in our own little yard,” said Vanderlip, touting the advantages of owning chickens. “You can’t get any more local than going out to your backyard to get an egg. … You could live on two eggs a day.”

In addition to environmental benefits, some chicken owners find joy in the relationships they build with their feathered friends.

“When we’re in the garden, they wander around our feet. … They’re right there waiting to get a bug or worm,” Vanderlip said.

He added that his oldest hen, Doodle, has the ability to perceive danger – she has survived two attacks by wild animals and outlived all of her mates in older flocks. Vanderlip said his chickens embody human characteristics.

“They look you in the eye,” he said. “There’s some intelligence there.

Urban homesteading

Los Altos resident Ron Hess pulls three light-brown eggs from nests of hay in a pint-sized coop he constructed for his brood of seven Barred Rock hens.

The coop, painted to match the Hess home, is equipped with a ladder, trap doors, operable windows, rain gutters on a shingled roof and a compact fluorescent light to comfort the chickens at night. Hess and his wife, Terese Tricamo, treat their hens like they would their own children.

Hess and Tricamo acquired their flock in April, inspired in part by Hess’ family roots in Mennonite farming. The couple compare their efforts to urban homesteading – a sustainable-living concept that incorporates farming techniques to increase self-sufficiency.

“If you do the work, it’s a great payoff,” said Hess, who added that he enjoys producing quality food and feeling connected to the ecosystem.

Their chickens provide eggs and garden fertilizer, and the family also maintains a beehive for pollinating the flowers, fruit trees and vegetables in their garden, improvised compost piles and a grain grinder for processing their harvest in the future.

Raising chickens poses challenges – unexpected predators strike the greatest fear in the hens and owners, according to Hess – but for the most part, the payoff outweighs the inconveniences.

“It’s 4 p.m. and I haven’t gone shopping,” Tricamo said. “I can grab some eggs, pick onions and tomatoes from the backyard and make quiche.”

Hess and Tricamo said they look forward to sharing their flock with Tour De Coop participants. They plan to entice visitors with zucchini and pumpkin bread made from this year’s harvest and their hens’ eggs.

For more information, visit tourdecoop.org.

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