When we moved to the country the first thing we said was, “Let’s get chickens!” (Technically we said, “Let’s get runner ducks!” but that’s a story for another time.) Even though we knew people with backyard chickens, had been told they aren’t that time-consuming or expensive, had seen how much fun they are as pets, and knew how much we loved ultra-fresh eggs, we left it at, “Let’s get chickens someday!” for four years.
Frankly, we were just chicken. (Too much?) Okay, we were nervous about how chickens would fit into our lives. So this winter I checked out a ton of books about raising chickens and building coops. As is often the case, the “Dummies” books really stood out for ease of use and one-stop shopping, but books like Art of the Chicken Coop were invaluable for inspiration. Feeding my imagination with all things poultry did a lot to calm my nerves. We really started to get excited, figuring out the best place in our yard for a coop and run, talking about which breeds would be best for us, and how many birds to keep. Spending a lot of time fleshing out our chicken vision was invaluable.
Before you try this at home, check your local ordinances! Currently, the City of Eau Claire does not allow backyard chickens. If you live in Eau Claire, do not despair! There is an active group working to get a chicken ordinance before the City Council right now. You can get more information about E-Cluck on Facebook.
We just started building our coop last weekend. It’s 4 feet by 4 feet, and we will be putting it against the wall of our woodshed. We plan to remove a small portion of the shed siding so the nest boxes will project into the shed. How about that for 4-star egg-collection accommodations? We’ve chosen to get Easter Egger hens, which are docile, cold-hardy, friendly, and a good “starter-chicken” according to our research. They also lay eggs in hues of blue and green. Bonus! We decided to order one-day-old chicks through the mail, but I’ve been worried out protecting them from our cats. The huge online chicken community came to the rescue. I found a cheap and cheerful cat-proof brooder design on Pinterest, and the plans look very straightforward. I guess I know what I’ll be doing next weekend, too.