I guess the only thing I can say about having chickens in my backyard is WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS TWENTY YEARS AGO??
Finally, I gave into the urge and here's what happened.
We live in a small house on an acre of land. We're land rich and house poor. Two kids off at college, one still at home. Two rescue dogs. Best husband in the world. Might be the time to start looking at travel brochures. Me, I started researching chickens.
We had this marginally lovely planted area around a Russian Elm tree in our backyard. Looked like a good place to start. On a whim, I ordered the chickens. I know, all the old timers say that's the wrong order - coop building should be first. But hey, there's nothing like a bit of "not backing out now" to get the building process started. We decided wrapping the coop and run around the tree would be the right thing to do.
Run construction came first.
We started on the coop.
Realized it was too small, and then added on. Dog was confused.
About midway through...and we're happy.
We ordered nine chicks from mypetchickens.com. We got ten, and they all arrived in great shape. After about a month, the run was ready and they got their first taste of the great outdoors.
Coop is finished! Painted it red. The roosting area is along the wall you see. The ladies (at least the ones highest on the pecking order) can look out the window in the evening. I have a poop board under the roosts. Easy to clean every morning. Nesting boxes are under the poop board. Both coop and run have a sand floor, which I love. Easy cleanup year round, and since we live in snow country the sand is easy to shovel in the winter when the snow flies. We've had snow on the ground for three weeks and that sand has been great.
Ladies started laying at almost exactly four months. I currently get between six and nine eggs per day. I try and keep the coop temp above 10 degrees. Yes, I turn the heat lamp on during the coldest of evenings. Not so much for them, but for me. I worry about them at about 2am, and I can get back to sleep faster if I know the coop's in double digit temps. I also have a regular light in the coop that stays on until about 7pm because that's the only light out there and it, again, makes me feel better.
Love my chicks. Aretha, Thelma, Louise, Hermione, Scarlett, Sarah, Cleopatra, Maude, Cindy Lou and Scout make every day just a bit better.