I've been a member now since July but haven't taken the time to introduce myself with work, vacation and building my coop all taking front row in my life this summer. I decided to get chickens because for one, I love animals and always have something running underfoot. But Why chickens? I had this incredibly sturdy grape arbor in my backward built to support a very old but healthy grape plant that I had hoped to move. Well the transplant didn't work so I bought more grape plants but none would survive. I didn't know that you can't grow grapes under a Black Walnut tree so I gave up. Now what do I do with a 16 foot long and 5ft wide arbor built with 4x6 posts 8Ft high and buried in concrete 30" deep? Turn it into a chicken coop, that's what. The second reason is that I love eggs, but since I am allergic to soy most commercial feed is lots of soy (even organic eggs) and (GMO) corn. When I eat eggs, I get the same reaction as if I ate something made from soy and in order to get non soy fed eggs I have to drive miles and pay a premium price for them so I just don't eat them. And the last reason is that my 84 year old mother now lives with me and it is giving her something to do that she really enjoys. She lets them out in the yard during the day when I am working and will watch them for hours. Some are starting to follow her when she is working in the garden. The coop itself is small at 4' x 4' 6" with 3 next boxes but I am only allowed to have 5 chickens in the city I live in so the 18 sq ft will be enough and it gives them a larger run that they will be in unless I am out in the yard. I finally built my coop, got my chickens and have already had my first loss. I originally had 1 Delaware (Della), 2 Rhode Island Reds (Rhoda and Rosie), 1 Barred Rock (Roxy) and 1 Ameraucana (Meri). I named then based on their type so I would remember them more easily. My Delaware had something wrong with her backside which was all pasty and gross and she was being picked on terribly so I took her back to the breeder and got a black Ameraucana (Ana) in replacement for her. I know there are several things wrong with the selection process at this time but people learn from their mistakes so please don't chastise me too harshly. All was going great with my new 5 hens until one morning I went into the coop and 1 of the reds (Rhoda) was dead in the nesting box. She was doing fine eating well and appeared happy she was smaller than the other red but I didn't think that was a problem. I don't know why she died but now I have 4. I do think that Meri is an Easter Egger and not an Ameraucana but that's okay, she is the first one to actually eat from my hand. The coop and run is build primarily from left over lumber, windows, shingles, roofing material and siding trim from our construction business so the cost for this was quite minimal. Total about $250 with the 1/2" hardware cloth being the most costly but vital. I have roof vents in the coop as well as bird blocking on the south and north ends for ventilation. I can also open the 2 windows when needed that are covered with the hardware cloth as well. The openings are all locked every night and the run is the hardware cloth from the tom to 16" underground to prevent any critters from getting in. I think the only real threat we have here as far as predators go are raccoons, opossums, rats and the occasional hawk. We have a greenbelt about a mile away and I have seen coyotes down there but never near my house ( too many houses/people for their liking). So here is my story. This site has been a lifesaver for the many questions I have had while building the coop/run and I will get more pictures once it is complete but here is one from a few weeks before I got the hens.