Hello. I'm new to having chickens and just wanted to introduce myself and let you know what I've got going on. The short of it is instead of an expensive red corvette or a ridiculous endeavor with a [way too young] young lady, I opted for chickens! The entire process has taken me about a year but it's been one of the best things I've ever done.
I built the coop and run myself with no plans and a handsaw and it's turned out better than I'd hoped. The coop is a 6' cube made from redwood with an angled roof and two triangle shaped, removable windows (always screened in with hardware cloth, but the plexiglass window and frame slide out). I used driftwood for the roosting bars (two of them) and there's two nesting boxes inside the coop. I made it so one whole side of the coop can open up for total access and there's a guillotine-styled smaller door on that same side for the chickens.
The coop is in a completely enclosed run. I used driftwood posts for the run which is 10'h x 10'w x 30'l. I used chicken wire to enclose the run top to bottom and dug a 3' trench all around the outside edge and reinforced that with hardware cloth, rocks and driftwood. I live along the coast in northern California and we've got all kinds of predators skulking and soaring around but so far no problems at all.
The soil here is horrible and mostly sand, but I've been somewhat successful at growing a cover crop of pea, alfalfa, rye, vetch, and bean. I plan to just keep tilling that back into the ground until I got some sort of growing medium to sustain itself and allow them to be able to forage and free range a bit out of the run in the future.
2 weeks ago I got four pullets - Barred Rock, Easter Egger, SL Wyandotte, and a White Silkie. I'm scheduled to get four more in about six weeks - two Isbar, a French Black Copper Maran, and a Cream Legbar.
Now each morning I go outside and let them out, fresh feed (starter/growing crumbles from H&B - they wouldn't eat the Modesto Mills for some reason) and water them (I've got both an open waterer and a hanging bucket with nipples), open the coop up and clean it out, then hang out with them while I drink my tea. I leave the coop open most days to let the sunshine in and about mid-day go out and treat them with a bit of cantaloupe or something (they love cantaloupe garnished with a little scratch and dried meal worms - eat that chef!).
I have big, closed barrel where I put the poop to let it age, and that's right next to an existing compost heap. I also have a barley sprouting system set up out back which gives them a tray of greens to peck at all day (I think when they are full grown they will eat more of it, including the tougher root mass).
Anyway, this site has been very helpful along the way and I wanted to join and be part of it. Thanks to all of you who have made this site what it is.