Backyard Chickens: Climbing the Evolutionary Ladder

Here's the orchard, pre chicken coop. The nectarine and peach trees can be seen on the right, against the back wall of the garage. The brick wall on the left is a neighboring apartment building.

We’ve wanted chickens for years. Overwhelmed with bees this past spring, and afraid the landlords would say no and break our little gardeners’ hearts, we put off having the discussion. Instead, we spent long hours late at night plotting the best approach, did research, and tried to anticipate landlord concerns, as well as solutions we could propose.

To our great surprise and delight, their response was much more positive than we had anticipated, and we are now in the throes of chicken planning.

That’s right, the bees didn’t provide enough parental stress and drama, so we’re climbing the evolutionary ladder. We will soon be chicken-mamas.

As with the majority of our garden dreams and projects, this one is slated to live in “the orchard,” a little square plot behind the garage. Last year we planted nectarine and peach trees there, and we’re now figuring out how to protect them from the future chickens.

We’re still debating chicken breeds. Australorps have repeatedly come up in our discussions, largely because of their record egg laying and supposedly mellow temperament. Other than choosing a breed, or breeds (we’ll have three birds to start), all we need is a coop/run. We’re shooting for something that will keep our birds safe from predators at night, but which is big enough that they won’t be miserable if they need to live there full time for a while.

Knowing us, we’ll probably finish building the coop some Saturday in June when we have full-grown hens still living in a box in our kitchen. But in the spirit of anti-procrastination, I’m pushing for a trip to the hardware store tomorrow morning.

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