Heather and I have talked about raising chickens ever since we moved into our house 8 1/2 years ago. Not only will it be a great way to get fresh organic eggs, but I feel it’s important to be connected with our food and understand where it comes from. And to answer your question, yes, Heather raised chickens and goats when she lived in Michigan. So I’ve got a good teacher. The boys are excited to help too, and as you’ll see below, they helped in the construction of the coop.
The first thing we did was choose the site. Did we want the coop near the garden, next to the fruit trees or near the house. We knew that we weren’t going to have a rooster, so noise wouldn’t be an issue. Even though the chicken house wasn’t going to have a large footprint (4’x4′) , we did want the chickens to have enough space to move around outside. One day I saw Heather walking around our blackberry bushes about 200 feet behind our house. She walked forward a few steps, backed up, made a turn, put a stake in the ground and seemed satisfied with the location.
The next step was coming up with a design and obtaining the materials. For a little over a year, we’ve subscribed to Backyard Poultry Magazine. It gave us great ideas for building a coop, breeds of chickens, food, etc. Ultimately, Heather was inspired by a chicken house adjacent to Bruce’s pre-school last year. Regarding building materials, a friend gave us some old barn lumber plus we used some wood we kept from different outdoor projects. The hinges and shingles came from The Restore for just a few dollars. When you add up the cost for screws, caulk and cement for the posts, it came out to around $20. That’s roughly the same as 4 dozen organic eggs. So we’ll make our money back quickly.
I’ve enjoyed the building and researching process, but there’s still more to do. I’ll put up the wire fence in the spring to keep out predators then we’ll order the chickens (3-4 to start). If you have a suggestion for a hearty breed than can handle Wisconsin winters, let me know.