We live in the metrowest suburbs of Boston, very residential, not a lot of elbow room. But last year we moved to the edge of town (not for the chickens, I swear) and have a yard that works better for the zoning regulations.
We started with six chicks (2 RI Reds, 2 Silkies and 2 Barred Rock) which were 90% guaranteed to be hens [insert laughter here].
and a medium-sized kit from Tractor Supply Company, advertised as requiring only one hour and one screwdriver (we needed three of each, me being me).
We painted it, dug a hardware cloth skirt around the perimeter, and changed all the sliding locks to firmer hardware with O-ring screw clips and a combination lock, which we figure even the most brainiac raccoons can't get.
Although the coop was supposed to accommodate up to eight chickens, it felt small to us, and though we let them out in the fenced yard a good bit, there are too many hawks to let them out alone. We built an expanded 8'x6'run with Home Depot lumber and hardware cloth stapled throughout. Then the flowerbox and weathervane, as one does
The two white silkies in the photo turned out to be roosters, and since they aren't allowed in our town, we found them a home at a 4H camp. The very next morning, one of the barred rocks — the friendliest, of course — started crowing. So now we're just three hens, 2 RI Reds and one Barred Rock — Penny, Sunny, and Mia HammAndEggs.
For our first winter we're just 3 hens with extra straw in the roosting box, no supplemental light, and a heater coil in the water bucket (fingers crossed). If all goes well we'll expand the flock next spring for some colored eggs. Dream: bees, after the kids are grown and not terrified of them.
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