I have come to realize in my short three months as an official chicken keeper, that everyone takes something different and special from the experience. A nod must be given to the operators of this site for providing the space, and a standing ovation to the more experienced that take the time to patiently guide each and every one of us through this twisty maze of angst and anxiety. No matter how ignorant we truly are when we start. I have had chickens in the past, the distant past. A few that free ranged. Keeping chickens in a confined space is an entirely different commitment experience. The first mistake I made was not building my coup and run prior to getting the little flock of eight. After all, I would have weeks to construct such a simple thing. Plenty of time. Plenty of time. As everyone past the moving from the brooder stage will agree……a bad idea. No matter how big one thinks the coup should be, double it. No matter how big you think your run should be - triple it. In my opinion the secret to being a good chicken keeper is a happy chicken. Chickens are remarkably forgiving animals. They overlook dirty water, bad food, an improper place to sleep. They will overlook everything…except space. That is all they really want. Yes, I learned here about using a 2x4 for a roost….big side up! I learned about grit, feed, dust bathing, everything. I even was able to use the nite light trick to get them to start coming back in the coup at night when they wanted to be rebels and stay outside at night. I learned so much here. There was one thing that was critical. One poster wrote a fascinating article about the social dynamics of chickens and the reason for space. Hiding places etc. I took it to heart and built a run that they would be happy in. Recently adding an “L” shaped unit with a covered patio as well for rainy days to sit outside. I have had absolutely no problems with the inter personal relationships between the ladies that are often brought up here on the forums. I attribute this space and the thought that i put into the design as the reason. Are we as chicken keepers required to build for “chicken happiness”? No. Personally, I feel that if someone takes on the care of an animal, we do have a responsibility, but that is a personal choice. A backyard chicken setup is a self contained eco system. Trial and error for every situation and location. Well ordered, efficient, and productive - the starry eyed goal we all strive for. Along the way, obstacles are thrown in our path. Predators, disease, and a host of other things. As one poster so aptly wrote, “no matter what you do….a chicken will find a way to kill itself”. Sorry, can’t remember the name, but remember the quote daily. It is for this reason, the secret of being a successful chicken keeper is the collective knowledge and support of this forum. At least in my case. Gardening, animal husbandry, and general sustainability is almost a lost art among the generations coming up. The knowledge here is nothing less than astounding. I certainly don’t know much more than a thimble worth of the art of chicken keeping in a confined space. However, I know more than the couple picking up their box of chicks at the feed store today and will be posting here tomorrow asking what kind of heat bulb to use. And of course the half dozen other questions we all post....over and over and over. It will be my turn someday to help others, and my responsibility to pass on what many of you here have taught me. Yes we are chicken keepers, ….but in the end….they take care of us too. A happy chicken is the key to everything, and in my opinion, the secret to successful back yard chicken keeping.