Ok, so I am starting from scratch here. I don't have a coop or any chickens yet, I am trying to gather as much information as I can before I decide what I want/need. Some basic info: I live in a rural subdivision, we have about 1/2 acre, so space is an issue. We just had the septic system replaced, so at the moment we have very little grass in the yard, we are getting an estimate for that tonight. I am trying to figure out where to put the coop so I can keep that in mind when we seed or sod. I will try to post some pictures of my yard. We have an in ground pool at one end of the yard(separately fenced), and then all grass(now dirt) and two trees for the rest of the yard. I want something that is attractive and will allow the chickens to be happy and healthy. We have a six foot privacy fence around the entire back yard. I plan to let the chickens out of the coop/run when I am out there to supervise. As far as predators go, we live in western IL, so we have raccoons,opossums,neighbors cat, possibly neighbors dog.I have never seen anything in our yard though. I do see the road kill on the road behind us. I have two Boxers(very gentle,we had baby bunnies in our yard and they left them alone) and a tiny chihuahua. I also have three indoor cats that are de clawed in the front. One of them goes outside on occasion. As far as the chickens go, they will be our pets. If they lay eggs great, if not, we will just enjoy them. I think I would like to start with two or three hens and go from there. I have looked at many designs, I am just not sure on what would really work for us. My FIL is a skilled carpenter, he can build anything. My husband is barely tolerating this idea, he thinks I am crazy! Cost is an issue, not because I don't want to spend money on this, but like I said my husband is barely tolerating this and we just spent a TON on the septic system. My FIL just built kitchen cabinets for my SIL, so I am hoping that he has some left over wood from that. Any input would be great, let me know what has and has not worked for you. Also this may seem like a silly question, but do the chickens have a bad odor? I am assuming that if you have a well built coop and clean it that the odor would not be bad. Someone told my husband that chickens are the smelliest nastiest creatures..... sigh... I think they are beautiful and my kids and I would enjoy them immensely. I think he will too once we get them.