I thought about having chickens often and never thought it was possible. I kept telling myself: "I live in the city. I have neighbors on either side of me. I have such a limited amount of space. I don't have time."
Well, one day we went to a BBQ at a friend's house who has a yard even smaller than mine, and fenced off in the corner of her backyard were four, fat, happy Buff Orpington hens. And I was in love!
So a few hours on the internet researching possibilities and voila, we now have chickens. Be sure to research the local laws and ordinances for your area. Turns out, we're allowed to have up to 6 hens w/ out a permit provided we house them 25' from our neighbor's house. And because we're on a corner lot, with large side yards, that was pretty easy to accommodate. (You can house them closer than 25' provided you have written permission from the neighbors.)
My other concern was about time. Chickens are vulnerable to predators and need to be locked up at night and let out at first light. My crazy schedule would make that a challenge. So I thought, what if I built a predator proof run and just put their house in the middle of that. Then I could check in on them at my convenience and not have to worry about getting up early to let them out or home in time to lock them up at night. Put in an over sized waterer and feeder and now I'm on to something that just might work.
Not being handy at all, I had to find someone to build out a predator proof run and house for my hens. This actually proved to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. I called handymen, wood workers and fencing companies and once they heard the word chicken, they hung up. And in this economy too!
But with a little persistence, I found a GREAT fencing company to build out my run and cover it with heavy duty welded wire. I opted to buy a ready made hen house and had it shipped to my driveway. I took care of burying welded wire around the perimeter of the run to keep the digging critters out. And after that was all in place, had a general contractor who was eager for work, come back and build out a frame above the run to cover it with corrugated sheets to keep the hens shaded and dry.
The one thing you'll notice that is very different about my setup is that the sides are all solid panels. Our house is one side and the other three are solid fence boards. Their only window to the outside world is the wire gate and above the run. I'm not sure that's the most ideal situation, but it works for us and I don't think they really care. They have no idea that a much bigger, crazy world exists outside their four walls.
|Here are the fence guys building out their run. You can see on the far left how the fence will come right down the property line. On the right is the wall of the garage. And that's their house just sitting in the middle of the run.|
|Basically the same shot as above only a few hours later as they are installing the fence boards.|
|Here you can see where I've pulled away dirt from the exterior fence line and stapled welded wire down and out away from the fence to keep digging critters out. I also used 8" metal spikes to secure the wire into the ground.|
|And the Spice Girl's house. Which we refer to as the Spice Cabinet. I've since changed the icicle lights to chili pepper lights. These hand crafted hen houses are amazingly well built and I simply adore this style.|
|They use the compost bin as their stage. I frequently find one of them up there just cackling her head off.|
Apple on a metal stick is always a crowd pleaser and gives the girls something to peck at.
|And this is what I come back to at the end of the day.|
|And their Life is Good treat bowl. Because life IS good for my girls.|
I hope you enjoyed my tour.
If you have questions about anything I've done, feel free to post comments and I will answer.