Thelma and Louise Roost in Boise!
Update 7/23/10: Louise turned out to be a Louie and started crowing in the middle of the city so rehomed him along with Thelma - who was too flighty and always wanting to jump the fence. Replaced them with 2 Barred Rocks and I absolutely love these birds. They are so docile, stay pretty much around the coop area (although I'd like them to fertilize more of my yard, but am also happy they are not roosting all over my nice patio furniture and pooping on everything! Considering adding a third to the group, maybe a Barnvelder.
I had a spot in my yard that was wasted - used to have a jacuzzi there so there is a concrete pad. I consider some raised garden beds as I have some in that area, but this spot is under a pine tree so not good for growing herbs/veggies. So, was looking for something green to do with that space. After doing some research, I decided to try my hand at having a couple of chickens. I'm single and currently unemployed so needed to go the super low budget route. My local pet store had several varieties of chicks and I chose a Rhodle Island White and a Brown Legorn. The RI is pretty friendly and the Leghorn runs away; I since learned they are not the friendliest. But, they stick together like glue and if wherever I put the RIW the other soon follows. I started brooding them in my spare bathroom's tub.
When they got bigger, they moved to the garage in an unused dog house (both with heat lamp). I put them in the coop at about 60 days old and covered it at night with an old comforter as it was still getting chilly here in Boise. I got the idea for the coop from the BYC coop photos page (thank you, SassarasSprings! I built to your specs - 4 ft wide and deep and 5 feet tall.) I still cannot get over how fast they grew in such a short time!
I had some scrap wood and bought some cull pieces at the lumber yard so probably spent about $60 or so, most of which was for the hardware. I had leftover tarp so put that on the plywood roof to protect from rain. The coop faces south so they'll have lots of sun when it's winter and shade in summer. When I'm home I open the doors but they prefer to stay in the coop. I had some leftover garden bark chips so put those down first on the foundation so rain water wouldn't build up. Put straw on top. Although I put a nesting box in the top part of the coop, they are making their own nest in the bottom level in the straw. I read in the forum that they are probably just practicing as they are only about 2 months old. I used a large dowel I already had for a roost and secured it with the plastic doohickeys you use to hang a shower rod. I have a lot of trees in my yard and when they do roam they like to stay along the fence perimeter under trees and shrubs so I don't worry too much about hawks and haven't built a tractor yet, I may not if they keep up the same habit. I have 2 dogs that stay pretty close to them as well which helps, I think. (By the way, one of my dogs mothered them just like newborn pups when I got them at about 2 weeks old, so cute!)
I plan to spruce up the coop more as time goes on, maybe adding on a larger run, nice paint and some flower boxes. For now, Thelma and Louise seem quite content! I also have parakeets so put a couple of their toys in the coop and they like to peck and play with them, or at least it seems that way!