Urban Chicken Farm

6 Chickens.
We bought them in February (on our 5th anniversary weekend) and like many of the projects we take on, we weren't quite prepared for our new furry friends when we brought them home.
We of course bought food, pine shavings and feeders when we purchased them, but beyond that, we weren't ready. So we figured that if we bought the chickens, we would be forced into building a coop. And we certainly were.  

 The girls loved holding the baby chicks and watching them grow. I loved hearing all the baby 'peep peep peep' sounds they made day and night. The girls were in charge of naming the chickens. All 4 of the Gold Sex-Links looked the same, so they all were named Ming Ming (named after a baby duck on the TV show 'Wonder Pets'). We figured it would be easier that way anyway. :) Our Barred Rock is Coco and our cute little Ameraucana was named Owl, because he looked like an owl.

Pete got to work on building a coop after we spent many hours reading books and looking at different coop plans online. We weren't sure where we should build the coop. I wanted it close enough to the house so it wouldn't be a pain to visit every day, rain or shine. I also didn't want it to be an eye sore in our yard and I was worried about the smell it might generate. We settled on a space on the side of our house, near the shed. I was still a bit worried about the smell and the noise with it being so close to the house, but we had read a bunch of info on how to build a low maintenance/easy-to-clean coop, so we were feeling confident that it would work out okay in the spot we chose.Only time would tell.

We had a pile of wood left over from our shed project, and decided the coop was a perfect place to use it. We did have to buy the roof material and the hardware cloth, but we pretty much had all the other supplies on hand. We put hardware cloth on the bottom, so as to prevent predators from digging under the coop to get their dinner. Pete was in charge of all parts involving wood, and I was in charge of getting all the hardware cloth stapled to the structure as well as painting/staining the whole thing. 

We moved the chickens outside before the coop was finished. They were getting a wee bit cramped in their indoor accommodations, so Pete focused on getting the enclosed part of the coop ready enough that they could be out there while we were still building the rest of it. They were happy to gain more space. We built the coop a bit larger than needed, so that in the future we can have a few more hens in our flock.  
Owl ended up being a dude....and it was super cute when he was figuring out how to crow. Now his super cute crow is a bit annoying at 5am. I feel bad for the neighbor who rents the small above-garage apartment located on the other side of our shed (which is near the coop). Cock-a-doodle-dew!

We let the chickens out of the coop shortly after moving them outside. They were free-ranging all summer and though I was worried about them bothering the neighbors, our neighbors had all told us they didn't mind if the chickens visited their yards. I was getting a bit frustrated with the chickens as they were making a mess of the flowerbeds. And about a week ago, we found out that they had been visiting our neighbors house and using their flower beds for dust baths and were also pooping all over their walkway. We felt awful that our neighbors were dealing with the same frustration I was having with our chickens at home. So, for now, they are all locked in their run. We hope to get some fencing up so they can still frolic around part of our yard, but that's a project we're not ready to take on (and we are not all that motivated to start another project right now). Having happy neighbors is much more important than having happy chickens. So in the coop/run they will stay for now.

Sadly, now that the chickens are kept in, we don't have a need for the rooster. He was the protector for them when they were roaming the land freely, but now he's just an annoyance at 5am (though we only hear him if we sleep with the window open). The next time I drive to Fall City to get more feed, I will be taking our dear Owl back to the farm we got him from and they will get to enjoy some chicken/Owl soup. : Why aren't we just butchering him ourselves? I don't have the heart to do it. I'd rather leave him with someone else and not have to know which night he's going to be their dinner. I'm fine with him becoming dinner, but just not my dinner. He was the chick we handled the most when they were babies. He was so cute! I can eat chicken, but not this one. Not the one I hand raised!!! Guess I'm not a real farm girl yet...