Phil Gabler opens up an incubator full of eggs waiting to hatch in the garage of his home in Mukilteo on June 8. Gabler recently listed his house for sale and would like to move to a property that allows him space for more chickens.

Home in Mukilteo on the market … for chicken lovers

Must love chickens.

That, and $450,000, will get you this move-in ready four-bedroom Mukilteo house and turn-key chicken coop.

“I will only sell to a buyer that can prove to me your love and desire to care for chickens,” homeowner Phil Gabler wrote in the Craigslist ad. “You must have an exceptional love for chickens.”

What the cluck?

What’s up with that?

I had to check it out.

I practically flew to the house in a subdivision off Harbour Pointe Boulevard on a quiet sidestreet that backs to Big Gulch. The tan split-level with an American flag mounted on the porch looked inviting from the front.

In the back, I found Gabler, 54, an ebullient guy in a striped polo shirt, gold neck chain and salt-and-pepper mustache. He was tending to his flock before heading to his job at Boeing as an aircraft inspector on second shift.

He introduced me to the members of his feathered family: Buffy, Goldie, Big Mama, Starlet, Henry. The little ones he calls “baby” and “sweetheart.”

He not only feeds them, he picks them up and pecks them on the cheek.

“They’re not just throwaway animals,” he said. “See how they light up? They have personalities. They’re like little souls.”

He has too many birds for the town’s limit of four laying hens. That’s one reason Gabler is fleeing his own coop.

“I’m looking at five acres in Tulalip,” he said. “I feel like I am being drawn to a larger space so I can expand my chicken operation.”

He’s also getting divorced, so he has to sell the house. He said his wife of 23 years basically said it was either her or the chickens.

He chose the chickens.

Gabler’s hobby was crab fishing, not chicken farming, until two years ago.

“A lady I worked with lived out on a farm and she brought me in a dozen eggs. I ate them. They were delicious. I said, ‘I want more,’?” he said. “She said I should get a laying hen.”

He got a small coop and four birds. One thing led to another.

“Something snapped,” he said.

The family’s private grassy sanctuary went to the chickens.

“My wife said I destroyed the back yard,” he said.

Maybe so, but if you’re a chicken it’s a poultry paradise.

There’s room to run, shade and shelter. A wooden fence hides the haven from the closest neighbor.

Gabler made a prototype of what he calls a chicken cathedral using his aircraft and building experience. He wants to mass produce and market the cathedrals, which come complete with heating lamp, roosting stalls and stained-plexiglass windows.

“There’s this urban back yard chicken renaissance going on,” he said.

Indeed. I felt like I was standing smack dab in the middle of it.

It can be yours.

He’ll even throw in four hens with the house sale.

Rookie chicken farmers are welcome.

“I will provide consultation for as long as they need,” he said.

Andrea Brown at 425-339-3443; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

A chicken coup constructed by Phil Gabler sits on the edge of a ravine in the back yard of his Mukilteo home on June 8. Gabler plans to leave the buyer of his recently listed home the coup so they can continue to care for chickens.

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