We live on a gentleman's farm in the Mid-Atlantic region, in a large, simple but very beautiful old farmhouse built around 1840. We try to live our lives with the utmost respect for our home, our land, our community and our world, and our new chickens have quickly become a (ridiculously) adored part of it!
We're not perfect by any means, and should probably be far more vigilant, but we are genuinely committed to reducing, reusing and recyling as much as possible, growing as much as we can to eat for ourselves and our neighbors, and buying locally.
Add our young daughter's interest in our local 4-H club because of our involvement with horses, and a recipe for a backyard flock was kind of a natural evolution!
We have a few acres, and elected to fence an acre in with a 6' privacy fence to create a private living space for all of us. The chickens have their "Coop Complex" in that fenced acre. That particular acre also includes the pool, the vegetable garden, the patio, the hammocks and the fire circle, so the girls are definitely part of the family and living in style!
We ordered 25 hens from Murray McMurray, to be delivered around February 10, 2008. Our experience was mostly good and probably better than could be expected. We specifically selected 4-5 of each of a selecction of brown egg layers, and declined the option for the "bonus chick." We got all the breeds we wanted, though not in the numbers we wanted, we lost 2 out of 25 quickly, and apparently did, in fact, get our "bonus chick" as an Easter Egger Rooster that we can't keep and are not sure what to do with.
Our coop is 8x6, with a roof to 8 feet at the peak. It was built new, though we were able to use salvaged windows and door material:
The run is 12 x 24, constructed of 3' preconstructed fence panels with a small access gate at the far end:
We built our coop specifically for our family situation-- we love it and it works very well for us. Your mileage may vary, though, so take anything that works for you, and leave the rest!
Our coop is specifically built to be No-Fuss. We have chickens now as a 4-H project for our elementary school-aged daughter to provide eggs for sale and for us. But because we anticipate always having a small flock that we'll enjoy playing with once our daughter's grown and gone, the coop had to work for both a 4-H flock bursting at the seams, and also ultimately a smaller, laid back flock for what will definitely be some lazy retirees!
Our nesting boxes are 12 x 12 x 12. We have 4, and they are topped by a cabinet which provides for great storage and also prevents them from messing up the boxes. This idea's worked great!
Our roosts are 3', 4' and 5' off the ground, and spaced 12" apart horizontally. We built them from 2" x 3" lumber, broad side up. They seem to work fine, and the girls crowd on the upper two roosts at night, leaving the lower one bare.
Our pop door
Bedding and floor
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