23 displaced Chester chickens settling in at Clover 'White House'

Paul Skinnell of Clover holds one of the 23 barred rock hens he and his wife, Sandy, adopted from Stephen Hunter of Chester.
Paul Skinnell of Clover holds one of the 23 barred rock hens he and his wife, Sandy, adopted from Stephen Hunter of Chester.

CLOVER -- Stephen Hunter's hens have migrated from Chester to Clover.

The Chester City Council upheld its ban on livestock in the city limits last week, leaving Hunter searching for a home for his 23 hens, which he had been keeping in a restored coop on his 2-acre lot four houses down from Chester City Hall.

After The Herald reported the flock's plight last week, several people called the newspaper and Hunter offering to take the birds. But he decided to send the pecking crew to Sandy and Paul Skinnell of Clover.

"I figured that'd be the best way for 'em to go," Hunter said.

The Skinnells live in the country area off U.S. 321 between Clover and Bowling Green. They keep the chickens safe and comfortable in a large, white coop they call "The White House."

"We're just enjoying them so much," Sandy Skinnell said. "They talk to us all the time. We just love to talk to them."

Hunter bought the Barred Rock hens because they were the same type of chicken the original property owner kept in the Chester hen house. But when Chester officials heard about the fowl, they said they had to go, citing a 13-year-old ordinance.

The birds are very tame, Paul Skinnell said. "They sure do talk a whole lot."

The Skinnells had hens before but were down to just two before getting the birds from Hunter.

"We were going to replenish our chickens, and then we heard about this man," Sandy Skinnell said.

It was a perfect match, they say.

Because the couple is retired, they have plenty of time to care for their adopted birds, they said.

"We're a lot like (Hunter)," Sandy Skinnell said. "We're just trying to make them pets."

Because the Skinnells live on a large piece of property outside city limits, there is no danger of the birds being evicted again.

They're also safe from predators because their fenced-in pen has wire over the top to prevent hawks from swooping down.

"Nothing can get into them," Sandy Skinnell said.

The birds aren't the only ones benefiting from the new situation.

When Hunter had the hens, he gave many of the eggs to a children's home in Rock Hill.

The Skinnells want to continue that tradition.

They plan to donate most of the 15 brown eggs they get each day to Lighthouse Ministries, an outreach that provides shelter for needy people in the Clover area.

"We thought we would help out, so it would be carrying on the same mission," Sandy Skinnell said. "I know that will help them out tremendously because that's something they don't get very much."

Although Hunter had hoped to keep his birds, he said he's "very much relieved" that they have a good home and will benefit people in Clover.

"I'm very pleased that that's what they're gonna do," Hunter said. "And I'm very happy that my -- I still consider 'em my chickens -- that my chickens will still go to help other people. That's a good thing as far as I'm concerned."