New City Farmer- Any advice?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by OldMacDonald, Apr 2, 2011.

  1. OldMacDonald

    OldMacDonald Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 2, 2011
    This weekend I took the plunge and became a new city small scale farmer. When I say "city" I mean small village, and when I say "farmer" I mean rabbits and chickens. And when i say "small scale" I mean five hens and four breeding rabbits.

    I'm looking for some words of wisdom, sage advice and whatever else some of the more experienced little "farmers" here can offer.

    Meanwhile, I have five three day old pullets comfortably sleeping under the heat lamp in the garage while I'm outside building my farm. I live on a bit under a quarter acre on a corner lot in a residential area. I have a fenced back yard, but my wife insisted on the farm being confined to a 15'X16' section between the shed and garage. It's on a cement slab, so and advice on a cement bottomed chicken run would be appreciated.

    The "farm" will include three rabbit hutches, a chicken coop with run beneath, a tiny little blacksmith shop and some storage hutches. All are being constructed to look like little row houses. I'll post photos when they're done.

    Other info you may need to advise me... I live in Michigan so weather is always an issue. My village council has an ordinance against chickens, but I am protected under the Michigan Right to Farm Act. However, I don't want to deal with any hassles so I want it small and quiet (no roosters).
  2. allcrackedup

    allcrackedup Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2010
  3. Chick_In_The_Burbs

    Chick_In_The_Burbs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 26, 2010
    Western Washington
    [​IMG] from Colorado!

    Best advise I have; try to win over your neighbors as much as possible. An understanding and supportive neighbor is awesome, but small missunderstandings and general dislike for chickens can cause you no end of headaches. My neighbors have been cool, thank goodness but I'll still send a dozen eggs their way ever once in a while. [​IMG]
  4. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    I'd put sand down in the run, to cover the concrete.
  5. OldMacDonald

    OldMacDonald Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 2, 2011
    Would it be better to just not tell my neighbors? The coop is situated so that it is not too close to any of my neighbors and is surrounded by privacy fencing; and since I plan on a small flock of five or less and no roosters, it may be possible to keep it to myself.

    I am weighing the pros and cons of it. For example, a guy four houses down from me has a large coop visible from the road, and he had a rooster that cock-a-doodle-dooed all day long. After several complaints the village told him to get rid of them. He argued with the village attorney using the Michigan law as his basis, and the attorney just stubbornly said "doesn't apply to you." I told him to get rid of the rooster and maybe they would leave him alone, and ultimately they did. But the village never admitted that their ordinance against chickens was not legal.

    The moral is, I have a legal right to have them, but I don't want to deal with a long battle over that right if I don't have to. So perhaps keeping it on the down-low is the best way to go?

    One of my neighbors is less than friendly, and once somebody called the police (autonomously) to complain about my little fire pit in the backyard. So, if I take eggs to my neighbors they may be happy about it. Or one of them may cause trouble.
  6. OldMacDonald

    OldMacDonald Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 2, 2011
    WoodlandWoman- Sand? What about course sawdust? I have a woodworking shop so there's no shortage of that stuff. I think the concrete may be an asset because I can easily sweep up all the mess and replace the litter.
  7. ThinkingChickens

    ThinkingChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 18, 2011
    I'm allowed to have chickens, up to twelves on my residential zoned property in the unincorporated area of the county. However, I still told my neighbors, assured them I wasn't getting a rooster and that their peace was important to me. I told them that I would keep the coop clean so there would be no smell and that the chickens sound much like any other birds. I think provided them with this information just aided in an accepting group of neighbors. Now they all ask when I'll have eggs. Education usually helps. That being said, it sounds like quite a fun project you are undertaking. You might want to build something a little more insulated than a standard rabbit hutch though for those cold winter. That's not a huge about of space to work with so underneath storage would be a great asset too.
  8. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
    Do not give any eggs to neighbors, no matter what your intent is, because they can get back on you for salmonella and diseases. Best to keep them yourself and only give out eggs IF they ask for it on a friendly meeting and you feel comfortable.

    Privacy fence is a good thing and add some bushes behind it as a buffer to keep really prying eyes from figuring out whats behind that fence. Netting on top as well.

    Five hens, you can get by with a 4 x 4 coop but on rainy or snowy days, its a bit crowded. a 4 x 8 shed would be sufficent for them to move around and get some hanging toys for them to play with like a rope with cabbage or lettuce on the end of the rope and they just have to work to peck it off.

    The run you mentioned is very good sized. Rubber mat on concrete is better and won't get caked on when the days you could not go out daily to scoop up poop.

    Good luck on your hens, they are wonderful!
  9. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    We live in the city (for like 2 more days hehehe), and we told the lady about the chickens the day we got them and assured her we would have no roosters. She has no problem with it; I offer her eggs, but she declines them and says she does not cook.

    That being said, though, we do live in a neighborhood where you can hear roosters crowing within a block or two SOMEWHERE at any given time of day if you spend time outside for more than 10 or 15 minutes. Lots of folks around here have chickens, and there is one house up the street that has chickens and a couple of goats. And this is VERY much an urban neighborhood. So it really depends on you and your neighbors.

    The people directly behind us whose house is actually closer to our coop have never complained, and I have also offered them eggs, which they also have declined but have said they think it's cool that we have chickens, which surprised me. I think more and more people are becoming accepting of home/backyard farming and learning to be tolerant if people have a couple of animals that help provide them with food.

    The other thing I can advise you about in regards to doing any kind of backyard farming is to make sure that all the flower beds and/or vegetable plants are cordoned off with some type of fencing or chicken wire, lest the wee farm critters make a lovely snack of anything that even TRIES to grow in the yard!

    You will love that bugs will practically vanish from your yard. Except flies. Those will come, in abundance, and you'll hate them. Cheap vanilla scented car fresheners help--flies don't like that artificial vanilla for some reason. Only thing is, those fresheners only last a couple of days when you hang them outside. So, I get the cheap ones that come in 4-packs from Walmart for like $3.50 or something like that. We put 2 on the patio but decided that this summer, we were going to put up lattice around the patio to keep the chickens out, except our landlords are selling our house and we're moving (which turned out good & tonight will be our first night in the new place which is a whole other thread all together LOL).

    Tell your neighbors kinda in passing about you doing some backyard farming, decided to try to grow some veggies (or whatever other farm happenings you have going on), then just kinda throw in the chickens & rabbits bit, and I believe most people will be understanding. I dunno, maybe I'm naive, but I think people all in all are mostly good.

    Good luck and hope it goes well. Enjoy your li'l animals! I have no doubt that you will. They get your in heart & then you're done for.
  10. OldMacDonald

    OldMacDonald Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 2, 2011
    Ewe- I think you misunderstood. The 15X16' area is for the entire "farm", not just the chicken run. Actually I am looking at a much more compact coop and run. My understanding is that about 3 sq feet of coop and 3 more of run space is sufficient for each chicken. So five hens could be accommodated in a 15 square foot coop with a similar sized run beneath it. My design actually is for a 25 square foot coop and a 25 sq ft run beneath.

    As for the privacy fence, I was planning on some razor wire or electric fencing on top to keep those prying eyes out. Especially little kids...

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