- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - In the middle of a quiet, suburban neighborhood live three chickens. Their owner, Danielle Michaels, is able to keep them in her backyard thanks to a relatively new city ordinance and the support of her homeowners’ association.

Michaels has only had her chickens for about a year. Before getting her chickens she took the Bull City Coop Tour. This year her house was one of the stops on the tour.

The fourth annual tour was held recently throughout the city of Durham. About eight homes opened their yards to guests to see what it was like living with and raising chickens.

“It took me a year to get chickens because I didn’t know what to do,” Michaels told a tour-goer.

Michaels said having three chickens is “easy and maintainable” for her and her family.

“My chickens are my pets but also more of a hobby,” she said. Her chickens help take care of the backyard from pecking for bugs to being natural aerators for her soil.

The coop tour is a way for individuals who are interested in seeing what a backyard coop looks like and to learn about some of the ins-and-outs of raising chickens in an urban setting.

Danny Umar is one of those interested individuals. Umar lives a few blocks away from Michaels and had seen her chickens out roaming before she put up a fence.

“I felt like they were running away,” Michaels said of the fence construction.

Umar and his wife, Beth, were walking along the path behind Michaels’ house about a year ago when they saw the chickens.

“I would like a chicken as a pet,” he said. “I’d get some eggs from it but never kill it.”

He said having a fresh supply of eggs is a plus and the chickens would be cool to have around.

Michaels said some of her neighbors have started to get chickens and she’s always willing to help navigate the world of getting chickens.

“It’s all new to me,” she said. “I didn’t really know what I was doing (when I started).”

After she went on her first tour Michaels said she started doing her research to prepare.

“I started reading some books and asking some questions,” she said. “I made the choice of what chickens to get.”

She knew she wanted docile chickens since she already had other pets and a young child. Having a community in Durham that catered to raising chickens helped her learn about the minute of having them around - especially when one of her hens was brooding, and wouldn’t leave the coop.

Since getting her chickens Michaels said she’s been able to cancel her pest control and has started composting more, which has helped save her money.

She’s also seen more HOAs become more welcoming of chickens.

“I have been very lucky,” she said. “I didn’t have any troubles (with the homeowners’ association).”

It also helps that Durham is very supportive of the community.

“Obviously, farming and sustainability is an important issue to Durham,” she said. “It fits in perfectly. I think Durham residents really support it.”

Next year will be the fifth annual Coop Tour, and Michaels said plans for the event have already started. They’re looking to get more houses on the tour and bring in more volunteer and community partnerships with restaurants.

Proceeds from the Coop Tour went to Cribs for Kids Durham, a program through Welcome Baby.

For more information about raising chickens in Durham visit www.bullcitychickens.com.

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Information from: The Herald-Sun, https://www.herald-sun.com


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