Why hello there, Chicken. May I come in?

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Actually, that’s not what the chickens say. And they don’t really cluck either. I should know, because we put their coop and run right outside our living room window, which we keep open most of the time. They aren’t very loud, but keep on a fairly constant conversational-sort of chuckling.

People have been asking, so here it is: A slideshow of the pics I took while we made the coop and the run. As usual, this is me we’re talking about here, so please realize that the primary factor driving most decisions about materials and arrangements was frugality. We had the phonograph radio cabinet already, and the battered turquoise-painted wood (used for the planter and the frame of the run) was leftover from our landlady’s porch renovation some years ago. We used hardware and screws and stuff like that from our stashes, and only paid for the hardware cloth and the paint.

None of us had done anything like this before, and we are in no way chicken experts! Hell, I’m currently struggling with the forms to enter my chicken in the poultry competition at the local fall fair, because I’m confused by the vocabulary.

Also, I’m confused about why the chickens aren’t laying yet: We were told they’d start around June 15th, aka a month ago.

Also, I’m confused about why the damn birds pile on top of each other in the nesting box at night, instead of sleeping on the roost or even just in the bedding on the floor of the coop.

Yes, I have a lot to learn. Probably should read a book or two, instead of just going by intuition and advice from other chicken enthusiasts.

A note about size: Our coop is pretty small, only 3’x4′ (and 3′ high), but the chickens spent most of their time out in the run anyway. The reason we only have four birds is that we’re limited by our municipality’s bylaw, which only allows for that many “urban hens” per parcel of residentially-zoned land. We’ve tossed around the idea of setting up another coop for our landlady, who lives in the other half of our duplex, but know that it’d be a risk because we’re still the same land parcel. In case you’re curious, the other restrictions are:

  • no roosters, cocks, or cockerels are kept on the property;
  • a minimum enclosed area of 0.4 m2 [4 sq. ft.] is provided per hen or chicken;
  • any structure containing hens or chickens, whether portable or stationary, is always located at least 1.5 metres from any property line;
  • only one structure containing hens or chickens is permitted on a parcel;
  • the ground underneath any structure housing hens or chickens is kept clean and dry and the structure placed on a solid surface during prolonged periods of wet weather;
  • hens or chickens are not permitted to run at large;
  • every structure housing hens and chickens and the grounds surrounding it are kept free of vermin;
  • any diseased hen or chicken is killed and the carcass destroyed;
  • no slaughtering of hens or chickens occurs on the property;
  • structures housing hens or chickens are kept clean and free or odours;
  • poultry manure and waste products are composted or disposed of to prevent odours;
  • any structure containing hens or chickens, whether that structure is portable or stationary, must not be located within the front yard setback unless such structure is screened by vegetation of a sufficient height and width to prevent the structure being visible from the street or from any adjacent residence.

We may technically run afoul (afowl! ha ha ha ha!) of that last one, since the coop is pretty much visible from the street and neighbours’ homes, though I don’t think any of them realize what it is. I’m not sure what distance counts as the front yard setback, since our house on a corner lot and a good 10 metres or so from the road. As far as I understand it, though, there shouldn’t be any trouble unless someone complains, and I’m thinking the neighbourhood is way too mind-your-own-business for that. Besides, our landlady likes the chickens, and she knows everybody: As long as we keep her on our side, it should be fine.


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