I originally became interested in owning chickens in 2005, when we visited a friend near Seaside, Oregon who kept a flock of ducks and free-range hens on his acreage. The hens spent their days in veritable bliss eating bugs and berries and finding refuge under shady plants during particularly stormy days.
The birds supplied our friend with pest free gardens and a seemingly never ending supply of farm fresh eggs in an array of delicate pastel shades.
I was suddenly very inspired!
When Craig offered us a hen, I had to gently refuse--we just didn't have an adequate space to keep her in our backyard. We lacked a proper fence, and more importantly-- a hen house to keep her in. To top things off, I wasn't even sure if keeping a hen within city limits was legal.
In 2007 after some research and preparation, we learned that keeping hens within Multnomah county limits was in fact legal, as long as the number of birds kept didn't number more than three. (You have to purchase a permit from the county if you want to keep more.) We immediately began to design our coop in preparation for our pending flock, and looked to the British ark (or tractor) designs for inspiration.
Thanks to valuable local resources such as Pistils Nursery and Growing Gardens, we did research on chicken breeds and their various attributes, and decided it was important to have docile and winter hardy hens which were also reliable layers. After much dithering, we decided our flock was to consist of an Australorp, a Barred Plymouth Rock, and a Silver-Laced Wyandotte.