First, we live in town. We've lived here for 15 years, and for 15 years, I've tried with very minimal luck to grow a garden in my tiny, shaded back yard. Just too much shade. Then I found BYC, started learning about urban chickens, asked some questions, and learned that chickens are in fact allowed where I live! If I can't keep plants alive, maybe I'd have better luck with chickens.... It started with a little pre-fab coop and 3 hens....
Well, then they needed a run....
My amazing sister in law and I built that run in a weekend, and we were so proud of it! The only problem was that it was not attached to the coop. So every day, I herded the girls into it for a few hours, and then bribed them back to their house. That just didn't seem like enough play time. It was something to ponder for a while.
Then chicken math struck. 3 hens became 6. Now we had 2 prefab coops in the backyard. Neither was attached to the run, so chicken herding was a twice daily event, letting each group out in shifts. There has GOT to be a better way to do this.
Sooooo... with no real plans, just a picture in my mind, my parents came to visit, tools in tow, and the Chikn Palace was begun. I insisted on using those 2 prefab coops, after all I'd spent good money on them, and the girls already knew them as 'home', so we worked around them and the confines of this tiny backyard. I have to say, I'm pretty proud of this. Later, we attached one of the rabbit hutches to the end of it, too, all sharing a roof. Now everyone has a dry place to scratch around all day and plenty of options for nesting boxes.
My DH likes to tell people that the chicken palace is more structurally sound than our house! And it probably is.
This year, we're working on the landscaping around it. Now there's a little raised garden in front of it, with herbs and marigolds. We'll see if I can keep that alive. And for Christmas, DH bought me some very nice portable fencing, so in essence, we can fence in the entire backyard for supervised free ranging. These city chickens have it pretty good.
A couple of technical notes: Even though we live in town, I was very concerned about coons, possum, cats, dogs, even squirrels getting into the coop, so the entire thing is contained in half inch hardware cloth. Around the 2 prefab coops, we buried hardware cloth skirting so no one can dig their way in. We did the same for the rabbit hutches, too. Since the rest of the structure is along a fenceline, we put chicken wire underneath the entire run, stapled on the inside, so no one can dig into or out of it! so far, so good! And to keep things tidy, we empty our stove ash from our wood burner into the run. That gives the hens a great dustbath and it really keeps the odor to a minimum. In the winter, we stapled clear plastic to the entire backside of the coop and run to keep the wind and snow out yet let the sun in. We had a week of subzero temps, and they wintered very well in there!
Meet the newest residents of the Palace!