For a while we have been thinking of making use of some of our spare garden space by keeping some chickens. We don't eat meat, so it would just be for the eggs. From what I've read four chickens could give us two dozen eggs per week, which is far more than we need, but could supply friends and family.
We finally made up our minds after a visit to Thorne's Poultry Centre, which is only a couple of miles from us. They have lots of breeds, but we don't want anything fancy. We may even go for former battery hens.
The plan is to fence off some rough ground. It seems 6 foot is the normal height. I think we need some strong mesh buried in the ground to stop anything digging its way in. There's a large apple tree there, so I'm deciding whether is should be in the run or not. I need to weigh up the risks of predators using it to get over the fence. For a hen house I'm going to convert an old playhouse that the kids don't use any more. That seems to be plenty big enough and can be fitted out with a perch and next box.
As usual, I am worrying about all the things that can go wrong, but there is plenty of advice to be found on-line. I'm going to have to join one of the forums, such as Backyard Chickens or The Poultry Pages.
I'm open to any hints and tips or suggestions of books etc. I saw that my friend Wulf has chickens and he suggested that we wait until the spring, but the family want them sooner, even if it means a lower egg yield for a while. We need to work out who will look after then when we are away as we don't intend giving up on holidays and going totally over to The Good Life (a classic of my youth). Actually there used to be a large, if dilapidated, hen house here until we knocked it down to make room for our new house. My other half's grandfather grew a lot of his own food here some time ago.
We hope to start preparing the chicken accommodation soon, so you can look forward to some more chicken-related updates here.