While my parents both grew up in a rural area, I most definitively did not. I visited Heifer Ranch in Arkansas as a volunteer a few years ago, and I fell in love with the idea of having chickens. A few years later, we were out for a walk one evening when we saw a new chicken tractor with hens on the property of a local church. (A chicken tractor is a mobile chicken coop that can be moved to a new area of the yard every other day—allowing the chickens access to new insects and plant growth, and allowing a new section of the yard to be fertilized.) I then became obsessed with idea of getting chickens of our own. We were fortunate that, even though we lived in town, it was legal for us to house up to 10 hens on our small property, (no roosters allowed!)
I was hesitant to just go out an purchase chickens. I learned about rent-a-chicken options, (www.rent-a-chicken.net or www.rentthechicken.com) but none were available in our area at that time. We found a local woman who was willing to "rent" us two hens. I built a coop in our backyard, and we started our adventures in chicken ownership. Since moving to acreage a few years ago, I built a new coop for the chicken run near our garden, as well as a smaller coop for our younger hens. We are now up to a flock of 10, and find that gives us more than enough eggs to eat and share with family and friends.
Through a series of upcoming posts I will be going through some highlights of things to consider for chicken ownership, finding the right coop, and caring for chickens. While they require commitment and effort, they are not an extreme time commitment from day-to-day, and are a wonderful way to bring the farm to wherever you happen to live.
A great pair of booklets by R.J. Ruppenthal make for quick reads on this subject: Backyard Chickens for Beginners and Best Chicken Breeds. Another great resource if you are considering chickens is Robert and Hannah Litt’s A Chicken in Every Yard.