See more of the story

Caitlin Percy loved feeding the chickens when she visited her grandparents’ farm in Ogilvie, Minn.

So this past spring, Percy and her fiancé, Peter Troyer, decided to build a chicken coop and raise their own flock in their Minneapolis backyard.

“We have vegetable gardens, and brew our own beer and make cider,” she said. “Raising chickens is the next step to more sustainable living.”

Percy and Troyer designed and constructed a 16-square-foot insulated coop with a nesting box and run for their hens Surly, Irish Red, Guinness and Stout, for just under $400.

You can check out the result at the free Twin Cities Chicken Coop Tour on Sept. 16. “I want to show off Peter’s work and swap ideas with other chicken-keepers,” said Percy.

It’s the 12th year of the self-guided event, and this year’s lineup features a hen house that resembles a log cabin, one that was repurposed from an armoire and another converted from a kids’ playhouse.

“People are really creative with their coops,” said Audrey Matson, owner of Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply in St. Paul, which organizes the event. “Some are fancy and even match the house.”

The number of coops on the tour has grown along with Egg|Plant’s chicken-keeping-related business.

Sales of chicks, egg cartons, lamps, feed, bedding and other supplies have doubled since Egg|Plant opened seven years ago, said Matson. Their backyard chicken classes always fill up, too.

The hobby is part of the burgeoning backyard homesteading movement, with more cities and suburbs allowing backyard coops, she said. “It doesn’t seem so strange to raise your own chickens anymore.”

Percy is expecting eggs from her hens within a month, but for her, the fowl offer so much more.

“Watching the birds is fascinating — they have their own personalities,” she said. “Plus they’re good pest control.”

TWIN CITIES COOP TOUR

What: Free self-guided tour of more than 20 chicken coops, plus a chance to talk to chicken-keepers. No need to sign up; just visit coops listed on the map, which is available online at eggplantsupply.com and at Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply, 1771 Selby Av., St. Paul.

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16.

Where: Twin Cities metro area.

Backyard Chicken Basics class

Taught by Audrey Matson and Bob Lies, co-owners of Egg|Plant, who raise chickens in their St. Paul backyard. Topics include flock management in an urban setting, getting permits, raising chicks, coop and run requirements, feed and nutrition, health issues, predators, cold-climate care and composting chicken waste. Students can ask questions and have hands-on time with chickens. The class runs 1 to 3 p.m. Sept. 30 at Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply, 1771 Selby Av., St. Paul. Cost is $20 ($10 for kids with a paying adult). Register at eggplantsupply.com.