When Sharron Fobes wanted a new pet, her husband had one request.
"He wanted another pet but wanted a pet that would give back," said Fobes.
That was two years ago and now Fobes backyard in West Mobile is home to a flock of hens each with its own personality and Fobes knows them all by name.
The happy hens call Fobes West Mobile backyard home. Fobes and her husband constructed a chicken coop and later added an addition.
"This dog kennel is also what we call the west wing," said Fobes.
Fobes is not alone. Backyard chicken flocks are spreading their wings throughout urban areas across the country.
Ed Williamson started his flock after retiring and even helped start the Mobile Bay Area Backyard Chicken Club.
"Its been a great community experience, extremely diverse every possible kind of person you can imagine belongs to our club with one common interest; a love of backyard chickens," said Williamson.
St. Elmo Feed and Seed is where most of these folks get started. Tracy McCarter at the store says most of her customers come from within the city limits.
"I think the main thing is just a return to a simpler country way of living without having to move to the country," said McCarter.
These little critters are not just cute; owners like Williamson say the benefits are amazing.
"The good thing about chickens compared to other pets is they don't bark they don't bit, they don't poop in the neighbors yard and they are fun," said Williamson.
There is also the obvious benefit; the eggs.
"The eggs are delicious and nutritious," said Williamson.
Chickens are also great at yard work. They eat weeds, bugs and create rich soil. Owners also say the upkeep is minimal.
"Once they grow past this baby stage they are really not that much to handle," said McCarter.
You have to keep them fed, make sure they have water, keep predators away and clean the coop.
All in all, chicken owners say these feathery friends are a pleasure to share a home with. Even if that home is in the middle of a city.
"It doesn't require a lot of effort but it does require some but I can tell you it's worth it," said Williamson.
There is a lot to learn before starting your own flock. For more information, you can contact the Backyard Chicken club at email@example.com.
St. Elmo Feed and Seed is also a great resource. Just visit it's website or stop by the store in St. Elmo or the new location in West Mobile.
Mobile County Master Gardens is hosting a seminar on how to start your flock. It will be April 20th from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Five Rivers Delta. There will be two special guests including a 'chicken wisperer." The cost is $28 which includes lunch.
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