I noticed that you hadn't received any replies in a while, so I thought I would 'wade in' with one. I raise chickens. Raised them when I was a kid, still love the meat and eggs, plus the added benefit of getting rid of a lot of bugs that the chickens gladly dispose for me. There was an article in a mag that outlined a 10 by 4 by 4 (mobile) pen that would allow for your flock to 'free range' with out actually being totally free. You simply put the flock in the pen, place it where you want the chickens to scratch for bugs, and move it as the area depletes of either food or grass (your choice), and you can always move them to the coop to put them up at night if you arrange a method of exchanging them from the pen to the coop with out letting them escape. I like a sliding door on the pen and coop that match in height and width, and simply roll the pen back into the coop and draw the doors to allow the chickens back and forth. The mobile pen has a four foot section at one end that is plywood sheltered for shade so that the hens can move into and out of shade as they choose. This won't work for a large number of hens unless you have more than one pen, but it is efficient for a small flock. I live in central Texas - in Limestone County (just a little north and west of where you say you are staying) and last summer was too hot for words, so I didn't have a flock then (or a garden for that matter), but this year, I am going to attempt to do both again. Hope for the best, expect the worst, and thank God that you are at least in Texas!