Deerfield man shows neighbors right way to raise chickens
Deerfield resident Ahmed Hawari sits with three of his chickens he keeps in his backyard. | Courtesy of Ahmed Hawari
Updated: March 13, 2013 11:58AM
DEERFIELD — Five homeowners in the Village of Deerfield are now permitted to begin keeping chickens, and resident Ahmed Hawari is one of them.
Keeping chickens is a hobby that Hawari said he’s had for about 10 years now, though he and his neighbors only recently built the larger, more stylish coop that his chicken enjoy today. His coop has generated positive feedback from many of his neighbors and their children, whom he allows to pet and feed them in the summer.
On March 1, Hawari became one of the few residents officially allowed to keep chickens on their property. The village’s pilot program, approved on Feb. 19, allows for a maximum of five residents to raise as many as four chickens on their property. If it goes well, Deerfield officials may allow for the keeping of chickens in the long-run.
Q: How long have you lived in Deerfield?
A: I’ve lived in Deerfield for 20 years with my wife and two kids—daughter and a son. My daughter is working in Italy now, though. She graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign and her passion was to work in Italy. She got a job at Max Mara, packed up and left! She sends us emails every other day about how she’s doing and the great food. I’m so jealous…we are going to visit her in June and spend two or three weeks there. My son goes to Deerfield High School, and will be going to Louis University
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in Chicago. I’m of Lebanese descent, but I’ve lived in this area for about 40 years. Prior to Deerfield I lived in Highland Park. I lived in Los Angeles before that for a little bit.
Q: Where did you go to college?
A: I went to DePaul University to get my master’s in computer and business science
Q: Where do you work?
A: I am the vice president of a publishing company in Arlington Heights.
Q: How did you become interested in caring for chickens?
A: When I was a child, we would go to the farm in the summer and learn how to care for certain animals. In our family, everyone had a responsibility in the farm. So I learned how to care for chickens, which are really maintenance-free if you provide them with a clean environment, good food. But I started up again about 10 years ago when I met someone a nearby suburb who really neglected a six-week-old chicken. She could not walk because she was paralyzed from being in a box in his daughter’s room, and that hurt me so much to see that. He told me if I didn’t take it, he would butcher it, so I told him I would take it. So I cared for it, took on others, and eventually kids came with their families to see the chickens. It teaches them how to care for animals instead of just seeing them at the petting zoo. That’s the beauty of it. So when I was building the chicken coop, I had three neighbors helping me with the design of the windmill and the cedar roof. It looks like a little gingerbread house now.
Q: What’s the difference between a chicken that’s raised in a caring, well-kept environment and one that’s raised in a less ideal situation?
A: You can see the difference in the color of their feathers and crown; they have not been picked on. Usually, when you have chickens of a different breed introduced into a coop, they get picked on. You cannot introduce a new chicken to the coop during the day, either—you have to put her in the coop at night, and everyone will be fine when they wake up in the morning. My chickens are happy; I call them and they run to me, follow me, never run into the neighbor’s yard.
Q: Besides chickens, do you have any other pets?
A: We have a fish, cat and dog—he comes with me to the office every day. He thinks he’s a German Shepherd, but he’s a little fuzz ball. He has his own bed and his own couch in my office and listens to my meetings. We used to have a parrot that talked and spoke Italian and Spanish. I did not teach him that.
Q: How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t at work?
A: I have been involved in a number of charities over the years. My son and I designed a flyer a little while back to encourage people to donate sleeping bags to Fraternite Notre Dame in Chicago, who provides resources for the homeless, and we collected about 150 bags for them. We’ve collected food and delivered it to them almost every year.