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June 4, 2011 / Robert Ross

Here a chick, there a chick, everywhere a chick, chick!


This year we opted for a staycation for spring break. To give the kids something to look forward to, we decided to join the newest urban phenomenon sweeping our neighborhood and acquiesce to a request that we raise chickens.

Being a planner at heart, the first step involved looking at the well established and landscaped yard to determine where a coop might fit in. Fortunately there was a good location away from the house and toward the end of a long landscaped bed that would let the coop gently “nest”le into the existing plantings with a minimal of disruption. It is well shaded in the late afternoon to keep them cool in the summer. The neighbors landscaping hides it from their side so there is happiness all around! We also checked the local zoning code and determined that we could have up to 25 chickens in Atlanta. Who knew!

Coop in place

Once the location was decided, we had to research the type of coop that we wanted. Something fairly utilitarian and simple to build, but it had to look good too. Needless to say there is lots and lots of information available on the web! The final design we chose to follow has a raised hen house inside a 6×10 pen. Raising the house allows room for the chickens to run underneath. Set roughly 30″ off the ground it also allows for easy clean out and, most importantly, convenient egg retrieval! After looking at several options, we elected to add a corrugated metal roof over the whole thing to keep them dry in the event of the monsoon type rains we get during the summer. An antique stained glass window was pulled out of storage and adds a little bit of style! Building the coop filled several weekends during the transition from winter to spring. Enlisting the kids help was an easy way to get them outside – away from the computer and TV!

Tool Time!

Initial Layout

Building Inspector!

While we were building the coop, a lot of time was spent online researching what types of chickens to get. After looking at the many varieties available we chose a mixed flock of heavy egg layers. After all we were ultimately doing this for the eggs! We ended up with 2 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Plymouth Barred Rocks, and 2 Rhode Island Reds. We originally planned to mail order them, but found this exact selection

The chicks first day

scheduled for availability at Rucker Horse and Pet. Located in Cumming, Georgia it was just far enough outside the city to make for an interesting morning trip.

While we were there, we made a spur of the moment decision to add one Auracana chick as well because it was just soooooo cute! The chicks sat in their little box between the boys on the way home. Fortunately the more convenient Standard Feed & Seed store is only 2 quick exits from us.

It is absolutely amazing how many other friends and neighbors have also embarked on this adventure! And, once you start noticing, how many coops you drive by on a daily basis. We know of people with super basic coops, elegant playhouse conversions, and even store bought coops (readily available for the tool challenged on craig’s list and amazon).

First visit to their new home.

Green beans, tomatoes and okra!

For the moment, we are letting the girls settle into their new existence. We still have plans for minor improvements and enhancements to the coop.  With the arrival of summer heat we need to get a larger waterer. It would be convenient to store a rake out there for mucking out the pen. I’m anticipating they will even participate in certain seasonal decorative opportunities! Looking ahead, we are also evaluating the yard for a fence to allow them some room to free range, without destroying the rest of the garden. After all we also grow our own veggies! Incorporating food into the garden is easy and fun. Who needs the country to farm!

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5 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. jeff / Jun 4 2011 9:14 am

    very nice job, Robert !

  2. Beth Shorthouse / Jun 6 2011 9:44 am

    I enjoyed this post, Robert!

  3. Paula Ponath / Jun 18 2011 9:24 am

    Loved your post. I too decided much the same way you did that I wanted to start into the adventure of raising a few suburban backyard chickens. My 4 girls (started with 5 but I lost one last summer probably due to heat) seem to be living in very similar quarters. Actually I was getting ready to post on my blog about “My Girls” when a quick check of facebook brought me to your blog and as there’s much more here I want, will be checking back often!

  4. Linda / Jun 21 2011 1:45 pm

    Since the hood is full of hawks, I’ll tell you that one of your neighbors actually came out to their coop one morning because of lots of noise and found a hawk sitting on the coop…It’s a good idea to put a top on their free range so they are protected.
    And for real, I had a hawk dive bomb me one day as I walked to my car…I see them all the time in the trees across the street.

    Linda

    • Robert Ross / Jun 21 2011 1:56 pm

      We’ve got a roof! I frequently see hawks in our yard.

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