Chicken Planning

Operation Chickens 2010 is in full planning mode.  

I'm going back and forth between getting our chicks from our local feed store or mail ordering them.  Our local feed store had two or three different breeds last year, but it would be nice to be able to be a bit more choosy.  On the other hand, if we mail order we have to get a minimum of five, and that's really one or two more chickens than I want.

If we do go the mail order route though, these are the breeds I'm considering:


1. Cuckoo Maran, 2. Easter Egger, 3. Blue Laced Wyandotte, 4. Buff Orpington, 5. Astralorp

I'd like to buy the chickens some time around the first of Spring.  They'll live in either our basement or our shed for the first month (in Moe's puppy crate), and then move outside to their coop in May when it's warmer.

As for coops, I've been combing the internet for ideas.  I'm 90% sure we're going to DIY it, and I hope to be able to scavenge/recycle some of the materials--both because it's a good thing to do and for aesthetic reasons.  I'm thinking something along the lines of one of these:

Depending on how much the chickens decide they like to trash the garden, we hope to be able to let them free range for part of the day while we're at work, and then go back to their coop when the dogs are outside in the evenings.  The goal is to work with Moe a bit to see if we can't convince him that "chickens are friends, not food" but I know he's very unlikely to come around to that way of thinking.  Separation of the species will probably be the only way to keep everyone alive--i.e. protecting the chickens from Moe, and protecting Moe from me if he kills a chicken!

Do any other urban chicken keepers out there have words of wisdom or things I'm not thinking of?

EDITED TO ADD:  You can see a (sort-of) step-by-step for the top coop here, and you can buy the bottom coop here.