Get a Peep at The Coops in Dallas’ Most Unique Home Tour

Little Forest Hills artist Janet Reynolds lets her flock of Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds frolic in her backyard under supervision.

Little Forest Hills artist Janet Reynolds lets her flock of Barred Rocks and Red Stars frolic in her backyard under supervision. (Photo: Jo England)

I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this home tour is the smallest and most unique in Dallas. It’s one of those events that has people saying “Only in East Dallas!” That’s what I love about it, too. If you haven’t already heard, A Peep at The Coops is an annual chicken coop tour that will lead you through nine lovely coops and gardens throughout East Dallas’ most fun and funky neighborhoods.

The Sunday, May 3, coop tour is a fundraiser for Stonewall Jackson Elementary’s garden program. It’s the perfect event for the chicken-curious folks considering their own birds but aren’t quite sold on it yet. And it’s a budget-friendly family outing, too, as you can purchase a map to the coops on tour for just $10. There’s a companion bike-led tour from the kind folks at Transit Bikes where you can pedal to the close-by coops on an easy-to-ride route, plus a raffle for a gorgeous modern coop designed by Mark Domiteaux, AIA.

This modern, mobile chicken coop will be raffled off to benefit Stonewall Gardens.

This modern, mobile chicken coop will be raffled off to benefit Stonewall Gardens.

We got a sneak peep at two coops yesterday. Jump for more!

Donna Chapman 1

Donna and Matt Chapman have a lovely coop and large run in their Casa Linda Estates backyard. (Photo: Jo England)

Just past the large pond with Koi and lotus blossoms is Donna and Matt Chapman’s coop. They made the structure and attached predator-proof run themselves, using a combination of reclaimed and new materials to build it. It’s home to five lovely birds, including a sweet black silkie named Joan Jett that looks like a Muppet.

While the backyard, with its keyhole gardens and shady canopy of trees, is gorgeous, the chicken coop is just wonderful. It truly shows that you don’t have to spend a fortune for a chicken coop to have a great place to keep birds happy.

Matt Chapman cradles his silkie chicken, Joan Jett, just outside their coop in Casa Linda Estates. (Photo: Jo England)

Matt Chapman cradles his silkie chicken, Joan Jett, just outside their coop in Casa Linda Estates. (Photo: Jo England)

“We wanted the structure to last a long time, so we didn’t skimp on materials for the frame,” Donna said. “We rescued some old fence boards from a neighbors front yard and used them on the outside of the coop so that it looks rustic.”

Donna’s favorite part of the coop is the outdoor run. “We went to a great workshop by Jeff Raska from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension at Gecko Hardware where he gave us a tip to use pine bark mulch and soil to cover the ground instead of sand. This helps keep everything clean and less muddy!”

Over in Little Forest Hills you can visit artist Janet Reynolds coop, which is more of a homespun affair that sits outside her studio where she teaches painting. Janet also keeps bees in her backyard, along with her five chickens. She has three Barred Plymouth Rocks and two Red Star hens, one of which is handicapped with a deformed leg.

“She is so resourceful, very smart,” Reynolds said of her sweet little bird with a lame leg. She doesn’t let anything stop her, and she’s a full fledged flock member that is just as sneaky as the rest of them, who took an opportunity to bust out of the run during my visit.

Janet Reynolds, a Little Forest Hills artist and instructor, gives her birds some treats in her backyard. (Photo: Jo England)

Janet Reynolds, a Little Forest Hills artist and instructor, gives her birds some treats in her backyard. (Photo: Jo England)

Reynolds, who calls her chickens “the best show on television,” says that having a flock of her own has taught her a lot about treading lightly on the earth. It’s a natural extension of her lifestyle, she added.

“We love having them with us as we work in the garden,” Reynolds said. “Who else will give you a nutritious and delicious meal from forage, grain, and kitchen scraps? They also beneficently reward us with an enriched fertilizer to add to our raised beds. Talk about generous!”

If you count yourself as “chicken curious” consider supporting Stonewall Gardens and buying your map to this year’s Peep at The Coops today! The self-guided tour runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the bicycle tour starts promptly at noon.

Are you considering a chicken coop of your own?

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