Dreaming Of Home: Backyard Chickens And Amazing Chicken Coops

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this a few (hundred) times. But one of the main reasons that Matt and I want to purchase the particular house we’re hoping to buy is because it’s in the city (I’m a city girl…can’t stand the thought of living in the country), and yet it sits on a one-acre lot.


Here’s a view of the lot from Google Maps. Check out how much space is in that back yard!!

House in the city on a one-acre lot

We have big dreams for that massive back yard, including lots of organic gardens, fruit trees, and yes….CHICKENS!!  And of course, I want it to look amazing, like a beautiful park.  🙂

I hadn’t really given it much thought (beyond the fact that I want chickens) until two days ago.  I injured my leg (not to worry…it’s better now), so I tried to stay off of it for a day, which meant not working on my living room makeover.  So Wednesday evening, I thought I’d take some time to catch up on blog reading.

My first stop was Tracy’s blog, Beneath My Heart.  And what did I see?  Her boys’ new baby chicks!

chickens - baby chicks from beneath my heart

As I sat there reading through all of the comments on Tracy’s post, I started getting more and more excited about owning chickens.  And then, of course, I started dreaming about and planning the chicken coop that I’ll eventually be building in our own back yard.

To be honest, I don’t think I had ever even considered the idea of owning chickens in the city until I “met” Linda at Fingers In The Dirt.  It never dawned on me until reading her blog that it was even a possibility.  But she does it!  Here’s where her chickens live in her back yard.

chicken coop for backyard chickens - from fingers in the dirt blog

So ever since meeting Linda about a year ago, I’ve been noticing how this seems to be a growing trend.  I’ve now come across so many others who own city chickens!

But planning and building the chicken coop will be the fun first step in this adventure.

Of course, the mother of all chicken coops belongs to Heather Bullard.  I’m sure you’ve seen it.  Simply put, it’s amazing.

chicken coop for backyard chickens - amazing design from Heather Bullard

In fact, they had so many people interested in their chicken coop that they finally had professional plans drawn up that the now sell at a very reasonable price (in my opinion).  I’ll probably end up purchasing the plans myself when the time comes.

And then I’m sure you’ve seen this modern style chicken coop from Karen at The Art Of Doing Things.

chicken coop for backyard chickens - modern design from the art of doing things

I consider both Heather’s and Karen’s chicken coops as the “gold standard” for chicken coops.  They’re so different, and yet both are so well though out, very well executed, and with amazing results.

That’s what I want!!

One common theme that I found from all three chicken owners mentioned above is that it seems like all three started out with the idea that they wanted their chickens to have free run of the back yard.  But all three eventually ended up fencing off a section just for the chickens, and all had the same reason…poop.  😀  It seems that chickens are quite messy, and will use your entire yard (and everything in it) as their bathroom.  So I’ll definitely be planning on fencing off an area around the coop that’s reserved just for my chickens.

I think my city ordinance requires me to do that anyway, so I may as well plan on it from the beginning.

So what are your thoughts on owning city chickens?  Have you done it?  If so, I’d love to see your chicken coop!!  If you haven’t done it, are you considering it?  Does your city allow it?

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  1. OOoooh congrats on finding a place within the city limits on a full acre!!! That is our dream type of property too! We have a few more years until we can put our plans into motion (as my husband is in the military) But I LOVE the idea of owning backyard chickens! I look forward to following yet another awesome journey for you guys!

  2. My sister has chickens and she made the same decision. After a year with them ruing all of her grass, she fenced off the back part and now the chickens can go down into a ravine to scavenge and frolic, then come back to the coop to roost without ruing her lawn!

    If you want egge, be sure the chickens are happy and not scared! My sister had chicken frightened by dogs who just stopped laying:(


  3. I’m glad you found a place….and that you’ll be joining the ranks of us chicken owners. A hint…chicken eggs taste much better when they are allowed to free range….and I’ve never had a problem with them pooping on anything. But…that being said…they DO poop a LOT….and I’ve never kept them in a back yard, we’ve always lived on a farm…so this may be the way they do in town. Good luck! 😀

  4. Direct Quote from ‘These Glass Walls’ Blog: “Here are some things that potential urban egg farmers should give some thought to before acquiring a few chickens.

    Chickens, like anyone, occasionally get sick. They’re prone to a variety of viruses and other illnesses. Your local urban vet is probably not well versed in them. In fact, she may very well not even see chickens in her practice.
    You will likely get your first chicks from a hatchery. By some estimates, sexing errors occur 25% to 50% of the time. What if you wind up with a rooster or two? Roosters are not legal in the city and there are no plans to allow them, so what will you do with them?
    How will you heat your henhouse in the winter? Do you have the time and inclination to clean it every day, ensuring that the hens have fresh straw and clean water?
    Who will look after your chickens if you go away on holiday?
    How will you protect your chickens from predators? If you’re one of the people who thinks we have a problem with coyotes and raccoons in the city now, wait till you’ve got chickens in your backyard.
    The average lifespan of a chicken is seven to 10 years, though they can certainly live longer. However, hens lay eggs only until they’re two or three. What will you do with your hens when they are no longer “productive”? Will they become someone else’s problem (a shelter, a sanctuary, or simply left somewhere out in the country to fend for themselves), or will we be talking about amateur backyard slaughtering too?”

  5. Oh you should definitely do it! We also moved to more land, in our case it’s five acres in the country. We fenced off just over a quarter acre for our house, though, and just got some chickens! It’s been a fun journey so far. I definitely recommend A Chicken in Every Yard. Very informative. We picked up a laying brown hen, and three pullets (an Americauna, a Rhode Island Red and a Leghorn) and I cannot wait until they start laying. We also built a small coop and run inspired by the crazy expensive Williams Sonoma coop (http://www.killerbdesigns.com/saltbox-chicken-coop-run-and-planter/). Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, check out The Backyard Homestead! It’s an amazing book about how to grow almost all your own food on half an acre, give or take. Its been so inspiring. http://www.ourbackyardhomestead.com/

  6. We have five hens, Dottie, Julliete, Dolly, Miss Chris, and Nellie. We got them as day old chicks and raised them in my sewing room until they were about 6 weeks old, they just turned two a couple of weeks ago. We adore them. : ) they each have a very different personality, don’t tell anyone, but Nellie is my favorite. We have a very cute hen house that was very well thought out. At some point we will do a little remodel and change the nesting boxes so that we can retrieve eggs from the outside of the coop. I’ll try to post a picture.

  7. Wow! Thanks for showing our fabulous new coop! Mr. HenSongs is very proud of his efforts. I am envious of a whole acre. Our lot is just 5,000 sq feet and that includes our house.
    Good points brought up by tia mia about hen health. We have an avian vet right down the street but he’s expensive. We keep our hens healthy by practicing good flock management and cleanliness. Connections to backyardchickens.com gives us good advice for the times you’re dealing with illness, as does our local feed store. Then, there’s the local SPCA for “those times” when it’s the end of the road for a hen.

  8. Jealous!! I told my husband that I’m never leaving our current home, UNLESS we would end up in a place where I could have chickens!! Hope you guys get that house!

  9. Your acre certainly looks very large and that is quite a backyard. Should be plenty of room for a few chickens. I was raised on a farm so chickens in my backyard do not appeal to me but I can understand how fresh eggs and your own chicken meat might be a huge draw to others. I am glad that others have stated that chicken poop (which has a VERY big ammonia smell) is nasty and is everywhere when chickens roam free. Also, your chicken coop must be put together very well with a solid foundation to keep other critters from getting in. Many other animals (raccoons, squirrels, rats etc.) like chickens and their eggs. Good luck Farmer Kristi! : )

  10. I live in the Midwest and it does not matter how large your lot is. If it is in city limits no chickens allowed. Or ducks or other animals except generally dogs and cats and several breeds of dogs are not allowed. Otherwise I would have some. Free range, organically fed chickens egg cost $5.00 a dozen here.

  11. What fun!

    Here’s a link you might want to visit. The actual coop isn’t exactly “fancy nancy” but if you get a few minutes and would like to be entertained, you need to sit a spell and enjoy. If nothing else, you HAVE to read about having to give one of the chickens a bath. Not quite on par with Karen’s (The Art of Doing Things) videos, but highly entertaining nevertheless. http://farmhouse38.wordpress.com/the-farmhouse-coop/

  12. I love to recycle and saw this awesome coop made from a recycled trampoline on Pinterest awhile back 🙂 Super cool idea…I’ll have to see if I can dig it up for you!

  13. Before you get your heart so set on chickens makes sure they are allowed. I live in a city where the ordinances specify chickens can only be kept as pets and not to produce food.

      1. Katy,
        Your chickens can lay eggs, but you can’t have enough chickens to produce enough eggs to sell. Your chickens stop being pets and they become a business.

  14. We’ve got chickens. We started out with 3 and a rooster. Then my husband got the wild idea to see if any eggs would hatch. They did, now we have 7 and a rooster. Poop wasn’t as much a problem for me when they roam as the fact they dig and pull out all the landscaping mulch.


  15. I’ve had chickens for years. In the country and now in the city. We let ours out of the coop to run around during the day, but we watch them so they do not get in the garden area. If they do, they will scratch up all the seeds/seedlings. That is worse to us than the poop! So I would say yes, you will probably want to contain yours, but you have enough room to give them a large area and they will be very happy.

    We gave up putting straw in our coop. They just scratch it out and lay on the wood. And I never smell ammonia…and I don’t clean it every week!

    They will eat anything, too. Leftover hamburger that isn’t good enough for us, salad fixings, I throw the roasted chicken carcass out and they peck it clean…tomatoes…I could go on and on.

    They are great fun. I’ve bought mine from a hatchery and no problem with sexing. They’ve never been ill and when they got too old…I have been fortunate enough to find someone in the country that would take them and let them roam free with their chickens. They didn’t care if they were still laying or not.

    I would post a picture of our simple coop, but I don’t know how to do that on here.

    Do make sure you are allowed chickens in the city. We are allowed up to six and, yes, NO roosters! 🙂

  16. Like others I am envious 🙂 haven’t had chickens since I was a little kid. We always had them when I was growing up, and yes they were always fenced in a run on our quarter acre country town block. These days I live in the city and you absolutely have to have them in an enclosure, as our cities now (in Australia) support very healthy fox populations.

    An inspiring post, thanks Kristi!


  17. Chickens are fun to have. Go to: The Chicken Chick at Egg Carton Labels by ADozenGirlz and check out her page on facebook! She has lot and lots of good information! And beautiful chickens!

  18. Growing up, we always had chickens that ran all over the yard. My memories of those are not so fond. 😉 Poop between your toes is not a good thing (smile). Good luck with your house buying, Kristi. That looks like great lot.

  19. If you want to “rescue” chickens, try calling your local elementary school. I worked at a living history museum and every spring we’d get the calls – “We hatched chicks in class and now we don’t want them/know what to do with them. Can you take them?” Personally I always thought it was a bad lesson to teach kids, but might score you some free chicks and save you from having to either invest in the incubator or have them live shipped to you, which would stress/freak me out.

  20. We own a few chickens. we have them in a chicken tractor. Kind of wish we would have put wheels on it. would make moving it alot easier. Once the chickens eat all the grass we just move it. When the grass grows back its very healthy. They also eat just about anything. So we are always feeding them left overs.

  21. We have 6 ‘ladies’ and have them all named, they are like pets that provide food. Nothing like fresh eggs!! For our coop we modified a large, old ice fishing hut. It works great and we added a couple of runs, but most of the time they are free range around our property. If you get chickens, you will love them!
    Debbie 🙂

  22. We are in the process of getting chickens so we can have our own organic eggs. One thing we’ve learned quickly though is that most HOAs will NOT allow chickens – even HOAs in neighborhoods way out in the country. Check with your community and make sure this one acre you want will even allow them.

  23. Kristi!

    This is hilarious! When I read the title of this post, I was so excited to see what you were going to teach me about chickens! Ha! Then I read where you mentioned our “little adventure.”

    Cy is building the chicken coop by Friday, so our chicks will finally have a home. 🙂

    I’ll let you know how it goes!

  24. I grew up as a city/country girl, living in the city but spending lots of time on my grandmas 160 acre farm. I think it’s funny people think chickens poop a lot! They don’t really-I mean they do, but it turns into a tiny dot of dust after a short period of time, not messy to this country girl unless they ARE confined, that’s when the mess builds up. Try ducks or geese…THEY do. Very messy birds. Chicken poop tends to kind of disintegrate if they are out loose. However, chickens are quite vulnerable to: dogs, cats(when babies), coyotes, hawks, etc. etc. so keeping them in at night at least is very advisable. You will need to clean the chicken coop and yard out, as the poop will accumulate when they are in a small area. If you want ‘guard birds’ guinea fowl will raise an alarm and are pretty independent after when they are tiny. They eat tons of insects (as do chickens). Movable coops can be good if you want to cut down on bugs in your yard, then the chickens will eat some of the green plants and a ton of bugs, while enriching the ground.

  25. I had chickens growing up, and I loved it! We were in the country, so they had plenty of room. We didn’t have to deal with the poop problem. I have fond childhood memories of those chickens. They’re hilarious to watch.

  26. Hi Kristi,

    This is a great blog, my wife has been wanting to get some chickens for us for a long time, there’s nothing better then fresh organic eggs, it reminds me of when i was little.