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!

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Shaffer calls his chicken coop "Palais du Poulets"

Clay Stapp & Co. Realtor Alan Shaffer and his partner had heard tons of buzz about backyard chicken keeping making a comeback before they decided to take the plunge. Of course, both Shaffer and his partner, Juan Barreto, had grown up with family birds.

“My grandparents, great grandparents, and later our family took over their flock as they got older,” Shaffer said. “Juan also had a flock growing up in Puerto Rico.”

So it was no big leap to build their own coop in their Kessler Plaza backyard.

Shaffer's backyard has a vegetable garden, a goldfish pond, a rain barrel, and, of course, a chicken coop.

“We just wanted to go greener,” Shaffer said. ” We use the droppings in our compost pile, which feeds our garden. We feed the chickens the excess greens and veggies from the garden.”

Shaffer said they found the plans for Palais du Poulet on BackyardChickens.com. The coop and run, which they built and finished themselves, is pretty amazing. Talk about giving the girls a worthy roost: Cedar shingles, plenty of natural light via hand-cut windows, and top it all of with a coat of Martha Stewart “Barn Red!” Shaffer then literally topped it all off with a chicken weathervane! So classy!

With the chicken coop in place, they just kept getting greener and greener!

“We also put in a rain barrel which we use to water the garden,” Shaffer said. “We put in an apple tree, fig trees, raised bed garden plots and a fish pond — that one’s just for pleasure, not eating the fish!”

Right now, Shaffer — aka The Condo Guy — has five Silver Laced Wyandottes. The chickens are a heritage breed, which has been around since the 1870s. They are truly great birds with wonderful personalities. I should know — I used to have a Golden Laced Wyandotte hen named Effa Manley.

Shaffer has five Silver Laced Wyandotte hens.

“Fresh eggs are amazing,” Shaffer said. “They are so much better than the store-bought ones.  The hens are fun to watch and just have around.”

They don’t keep the girls cooped up all the time, Shaffer said. But when they’re out in the yard, Alan and Juan have to keep a close eye on them.

“They can mess up the garden in a hurry, as Juan found out one day when he left them out overnight while I was out of town,” Shaffer mused. “They had full run of the yard for a couple of hours before going to roost.  He had a mess to clean up before I got home!”

I guess some people still think of chicken keeping as a low-brow country exploit. For instance, in the Park Cities, it’s strictly verboten. But as I see it, Shaffer’s gorgeous coop and beautiful birds can be an asset to a neighborhood.

What do you think?