When Scott and Allison Allen come out to greet them each morning, the chickens chirp with delight and scurry for the mealworm treat they know is coming.
The Allens always wanted land, but now they have a little piece of farm life right in their backyard with their coop of exotic chickens.
The desire to raise chickens came from seeing friends who owned the creatures in New Orleans.
“I didn’t know that people have chickens in the city,” Scott says.
So with the help of Dan Magee, who had chicks that were hatching, Scott went to work on building his chickens a home.
As the owner of A Plus Signs and Creative Inc., Scott put his artistic skills to work and drew up a retro, ’50s-inspired coop design. Within three weeks, he had a beige-and red-colored cedar coop with a metal roof. A bright, vintage sign that reads “Silkie Motel” sits overhead.
Scott and Allison own three types of chickens: a handful of dark silkies, a white Cochin and Phyllis, the Polish chicken. Phyllis, who is a few months older than the rest of the chicks, has become the adoptive mother of the group, wrapping the chicks under her wings at night.
The Allens won’t know the sex of the other chicks until they are 6 months old. Because roosters are not allowed in the city, Magee will help the Allens find a home for any males that emerge. After that, the number of chickens they have will be below seven, the maximum number Magee recommends for a backyard.
At this point, the couple has named all of the chickens. Scott says that kids who would come over named the chicks.
Magee says that chickens can also recognize faces. “I try to handle them a little every day,” Allison says. She hopes that she can train them to come to her.
The Allens say they love the routine of taking care of the chickens each day. “It’s something to keep up with, and it’s fun to watch them grow,” Scott says. “I love sitting out here with a cup of coffee and watching them in the morning.”
They are also looking forward to getting fresh eggs.
Magee says that raising backyard chickens is rewarding and fun, but it’s also a commitment. He stresses the importance of security. Even in the city, plenty of predators exist, so it’s important to build a protective coop.
Scott says they are learning as they go.
“You need to do your homework, but there are way more pros than cons to having chickens,” he advises.