Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Having your own chicken coop is nothing to balk (or bawk) at!

There is nothing like the taste of a truly farm-fresh” egg, especially when the farm is your own backyard!  Perhaps the trend is to hedge our bets against a bad economy or an effort to know where our food is coming from.  Or maybe it is just because it's fun (which it is) and the bonus is fresh eggs! 
It is not at all unusual to find chickens being kept in town now.  In fact, the City of Spokane has an ordinance allowing up to three chickens per home (sorry, no roosters allowed).  Spokane Valley is still rural enough that a variety of livestock can be found within the city limits so having chickens is not an issue, likewise for the County. 
So how does one go about setting up a chicken operation in town?  It really is pretty simple and fairly inexpensive.  For the person who is handy with tools, there are a multitude of plans for hen houses to be found online and in books in the library and hardware stores.  For those less adept at construction, there are also a number of ads on Craigslist and in the classifieds for chicken coops and chickens for sale.
In the interest of saving some time, my family & I did a hybrid project, building the enclosure and buying the hen house.  The hen house is about five feet long, three feet from front to back and stands about three feet tall.  We put it on three-foot- legs with walls on three sides so we didn’t have to crawl around on the ground to clean and search for eggs.  That also provides an area for the hens to get out of the heat or bad weather.  There are three nest boxes at the far back of the structure and a hinged roof to allow access from the outside.  The interior floor is covered in linoleum for ease of cleaning.  There is a 2x2 door on one end for cleaning access and a screened window with a hinged cover for ventilation on the opposite end.  The hen door to the coop can also be closed to keep the hens inside if necessary.  The enclosure starts at the front of the hen house so we have access without having to go inside.
We started this project for the eggs but the fun of having chickens is worth far more.  The old sayings like mad as a wet hengoing to bed with the chickenscackling like a bunch of old hens…they are all true!  They make us laugh, we love the sound of them “purring” (yes they do), they come when they’re called, and they follow us around like puppies and will sit on our laps and beg for food.  Spoiled?  Of course they are spoiled but what we get from them is worth it!  For more information, contact Jim Armstrong or go online to: www.backyardchickens.com/