By Michele Stevens Bernard, TSB Lifestyle Editor
Gravel crunches beneath my feet. As I walk the length of Yvonne Evans’ driveway, I peek across the white lattice fence lining her backyard. Standing in the middle of her pristine yard is Yvonne, tall, beautiful, fair skin protected by a wide-brimmed straw hat embellished with a springtime bouquet of pink and white flowers.Around her feet dance and peck the yellow and brownchickens that make upEvans’ backyard bevy collectively known as The House of Ladybirds.
“I’m a nut about birds,” says Evans as we settle in to talk about her unique hobby, her chickens and her beautiful backyard. “Every single room in my house has paintings of birds. I didn’t even realize it either until someone pointed it out to me.”
Evans’ backyard will be featured on Saturday when the McKinney Historic Neighborhood Association presents the 1st Annual Chicken Coop and Victory Garden Tour. Nine homes, as well as mixed poultry at Creative by Nature, and the McKinney Community Garden Association’s E.S. DotyGarden will also be featured.
Evans’ love affair with her chicks began two years ago when she was trying to decide what to do about her backyard.
“I didn’t know what to do with it, it was an eyesore,” says Evans, “Then, a neighbor said she knew what I needed to do because I loved birds. She suggested that I build a really cool chicken coop and raise chickens.”
And so, she did.
At her neighbor’s suggestion, Evans took to the internet and started her research with a trip down the information highway to the city of McKinney’s website.
“There is a section where you can ask questions and search,” said Evans, “I popped in the word chickens and found that in McKinney you can have up to 12 chickens. But, you have to be sensitive to your Home Owner Associations. We’re pretty cool over here [Historic District]. I have tolerant neighbors who encourage me.”
Because of a chicken’s tendency to want to roam, Evans’ yard is delineated from the chicken’s yard by a neatly appointed white post and wired fence. Yellow and black custom signage created by a friend adorns the connecting gate proclaiming the birds’ area as the House of Ladybirds.
“My setup is great,” says Evans as she shows me around. “I have this wonderful artist friend who did silhouettes of my chickens to create these fun pieces.” Pointing to the baby-blue and white-trimmed coop complete with screened in walkway, she draws my attention to the art pieces near the black shingled roof.
“See Martha and George Washington up there? Those are silhouettes of my chickens too.”
In addition to a beautiful coop to call home, the ladies also enjoy a large pomegranate tree for shade from the Texas heat, and for protection from any inquiring hawks flying by. They even have a white-washed arbor, dubbed the Bathing Beauty area, built especially for their “bathing” needs.
“People might not know that chickens need to bathe in dust every day,” says Evans. “It’s a social gathering for them, and, it helps with bug control. My husband, George, put together a special corner area for them. They immediately, jumped in and started taking their dirt baths!”
Evans’ brood including her favorite hen named Cheeks, roam the yard moving from coop to tree to Bathing Beauty area and back as we stand talking in the middle of their domain.
“We have the yellow hens. They lay large brown eggs,” says Evans, “These little guys here are from South America. they lay the tinted Easter egg colored eggs. They just started laying about 10 days ago. They are the most amazing eggs!”
According to Evans, the 1st Annual Chicken Coop and Victory Garden Tour will be a wonderful opportunity for folks to get to know their historic district neighbors, no matter where one lives in the city. The event will also provide an opportunity for people to gather information and ask questions.
“Many of the chicken or garden owners have selected a specific topic to talk about,” says Evans, “I will be talking about what to consider when building a chicken coop and selecting your breed of chickens. There will be vegetable gardeners and backyard chicken owners with between 10 and 20 years experience. [This will be] a real opportunity to learn.”
In addition to chickens, Evans’ yard also sports a small vegetable garden designed and established by her husband and a neighborhood friend.
“This is our first year, so we want to keep it small,” says Evans, “We can always go bigger.”
After walking the yard, we retire to the shaded sitting area built especially for viewing pleasure.
“It’s amazing how amusing chickens are,” says Evans, “I’ve had more fun than I ever anticipated. I really thought the romance would eventually wear off but it hasn’t. I am more thrilled now than when I started two years ago. The only thing I wish is that I had a bigger yard and a bigger coop.”
Saturday’s event begins at 11 a.m. at D&L AgMart (Feed Store) located at 210 W. University. Admission is free and is kid friendly. Morning guests will be able to pick up a map and get a free breakfast to start their day. The Chicken Coop and Victory Garden Tour goes through 4 p.m. For event details go to ItsAllGoodInTheHood.net