Well... My husband and I are really into the idea of becoming more self sufficient, but this is really my project and my husband is just smiling and nodding for the most part. I have done some research and I originally wanted New Hampshire Reds, but the breeder that I found has none currently and I am very anxious to get moving on this so I decided to go with the common Rhode Island Reds. They are pretty durable birds that can withstand our heat and the mild winters easily. They are also great egg and meat birds. My ultimate plan is to harvest both eggs and meat. I am currently building my coop, which will be large enough to house 5 nesting boxes and I have an 8 x 4 run for them that is roughly 5 feet tall. I actually took advantage of my grape frame. Since the vines grow on top, I was able to chicken wire the sides and the top with the wire, the vines will grow over the top and down the sides to provide not only shade, additional protection, but tasty treats such as bugs and grapes. It will also not take away any yard space. I want two hens and a rooster. My ultimate hope is that one might brood while the other provides me daily eggs. I have been looking into incubation, but I really really want to do this as old fashioned as possible and I am hoping that my brooder will give me a good amount of meat birds as time moves on. This is exciting and scary for me as I have never raised chickens before. I am hoping that I am not too far off base with my wants, it has been a trying task to try and get information that relates to this. Any advice?
I have heard some great things about Rhode Island Reds. We currently have two babies that we are waiting to get big. I just got 6 full size chicks last week, we have previously only had bantams so we are not sure how this will go lol. I would love to see a picture of your coop grape vines sound like an awesome idea. I do not think you are far off, I would just say be patient and you will learn new things constantly. It has been at times a very frustrating process and at other times very rewarding. I am not sure where you are getting chickens from but there are a ton of people and places you can find them in and around jacksonville. I would be more then happy to help just let me know.