For Steve English and his partner Ryan Steinbach, their extended family extends to their backyard in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood.
Four years ago, the couple began the hobby of raising chickens by buying six chicks and a small coop. The hobby quickly took their imaginations—and their hearts—into new territory.
They now boast a flock of 16 hens of varying sizes and colors with a large, elaborate coop. Friends call it the Taj Mahal of chicken coops, complete with green roofs and two wings.
The men, who own The Blossom Boys florist shop nearby, couldn’t imagine their lives any other way.
“People will say to me ‘You get up at 5 o’clock in the morning to feed your chickens and cook for your chickens?’ Absolutely, it’s the most peaceful time of the day,” English said with a smile.
Though Chicago law has always allowed homeowners to keep chickens, including roosters in the city, the hobby has grown in recent years. There’s no official chicken count but some estimates of the number of homes keeping chickens is in the hundreds.
“People are wanting healthy food. They’re wanting their children to have more contact with animals and they’re wanting their children to be able to nurture,” English said.
English and Steinbach have named all of their chickens and keep them as pets—only consuming their eggs for food. Other families in Chicago use chickens for their meat, getting them slaughtered at a business properly licensed to do so.