Sunday, September 19, 2021

Windy City Coop Tour Showcases Backyard Poultry Raising Operations

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

If ever you've wondered why folks keep chickens in their backyard in the city, here's a good chance to find out.

The Windy City Coop Tour is back for its 11th year--showcasing backyard poultry, eco-yards and urban livestock across the city and suburbs.

During this self-guided tour, hosts open their yards to visitors and share their experience of keeping backyard livestock in an urban setting.

The Windy City Coop Tour provides access to local examples of the broader nation-wide movement toward sustainable urban back yards.

Admission is free to each site. No dogs allowed.

Tour hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, September 25 and Sunday, September 26--although hours may vary from site to site.

Most of the sites are wheelchair accessible, and a number of the hosts are multi-lingual.

To ensure the safety of hosts and guests, masks are required when entering any property. Host sites are private property. Hosts reserve the right to deny entry to any guest for any reason. All sites have agreed to follow pandemic protocols. Some sites will have masks and sanitizer available for guests if needed.
 
The Windy City Coop Tour is organized by Chicagoland Chicken Enthusiasts, a network of local urban agriculturists and supported by Advocates for Urban Agriculture. The Coop Tour is sponsored by Home To Roost, LLC.

There are several sites in the area that are on the tour.

One is the Talaga home, 5720 S. Merrimac. It will be open for tours from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, September 25-26.

"We started keeping chickens in 2020, when the pandemic hit," said Anna Talaga. "So we're kind of new at it, but we enjoy it quite a bit."
Anna Talaga and her hens.


Born on a farm in the Polish Highlands, Anna wanted chickens as perhaps a modest reminder of her family heritage. Her husband, Boguslaw, originally from the big city of Krak√≥w, initially wanted no part of the project--but has come to enjoy the family's hens. At the moment, they have three: Beaker, Lacey and Blondie--which she describes as "lap chickens" because they are so friendly around people.

The "girls," as they are called, lay an average of two eggs a day. They are free-range birds. Anna says the eggs they lay taste significantly better than store-bought eggs.

The coop the Talaga family built has been expanded with a chicken run. The backyard also features a vegetable garden, a koi pond and more.

In response to a question, Anna said the smell and noise her chickens generate is typically less than an average dog does in a backyard. "Now if we had a rooster, it might be different," she laughed. "But we have no plans for that."

She added that the tour "is an excellent way for us to spread the word about how even with just a small amount of land, people can raise their own chickens, grow their own food and think about making the world a better place" through conservation and sustainable agriculture.

Also on the tour is The Feed Store, 5408 South Harlem, Summit, a wonderful reminder of the area's semi-rural past.

They will be open for tours from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, September 25 and 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Sunday, September 26. 

The Feed Store has been at that location for nearly 75 years. Their staffers are very knowledgeable in backyard chicken keeping, and all animal feeding. Currently, they have about 15 different breeds of chicken, a red golden pheasant and regular golden pheasant in their parking lot coop. They have Cemani chickens and peacocks in the store. They also have a black Spanish Turkey and a rabbit. They compost their own chicken manure.

The Windy City Coop Tour also includes west-southwest suburban sites in Berwyn, Oak Park, Darien and Naperville. City sites nearby are in the Brighton Park, Back of the Yards and Beverly neighborhoods.

A detailed map of the tour's sites, as well as more information, are available at chicagochickens.org.


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