Seventy-five feet? Thirty feet? Attached to the house? Underneath the porch?
The title of this post gives the impression that I'm about to write an article on relationships, doesn't it? But, no. These are all minimum distances and locations I have read about for building chicken coops and hen houses. This conflicting information has left me a bit stymied as to how to proceed on my own hen house and coop.
To build a hen house 75' from our house seems awfully far away. Perhaps this is for the larger chicken-rearing operations where smell would be a bigger factor? I'm planning to start with just ten or twelve hens and "keep a clean house" - if that's possible in the chicken world.
Since I won't be attaching it to the house, and under the porch isn't even remotely an option, the 30' distance is sounding pretty reasonable right now.
Unfortunately, we are very delayed in building our hen housing. Here it is, almost March (chick time), and we've yet to even start. In our defense, we did only just move in one month ago. Still, the first chicks are being delivered to my local farm and feed store on March 6th. That's a week and a half from now! I'm not sure I'm going to be able to make this date, but I sure as hell am going to try.
The pictures below show where I've decided I want to put my hen house and run. This first photo is looking south. You can barely see our house on the left and, if you enlarge the photo, you can see my barn up the hill, also to the left, in the distance:
The three logs in the photo above (I rolled these UP the hill in frustration when I realized how much help I'm going to need building this coop) indicate where the ground starts to become level. There are five logs there now (the frustration just wouldn't dampen) and I was really sore the next day.
The photo below is looking north. You'll need to use your imagination to envision a cute little home for chickens, because I know this land here doesn't look like much now. The building on the right of this picture is our detached garage.
This area is one of three fenced fields behind our house. And they aren't really fields...they're more...fenced off areas for horses. This is what this property was before - a home for 2 horses. Nothing, really, is growing here that can be called sustenance for anybody other than, maybe, a few goats. Oh, and chickens. There are definitely a lot of bugs out there. But I digress.
My hen house. The location I have chosen is the only flat spot in any of the fields. We really have some hilly pastures! It's also close enough to the house, that if (when) predators show up, I'm going to hear about it and be able to see, relatively quickly, what's going on.
There are two potential problems - or concerns- to situating the hens here, though.
Issue #1: The proximity to the house. Hence the title of this post. To all you experienced chicken keepers out there, is this too close? The climate here is very wet...we average 36.3" of rain a year, so the humidity and mold-factor is quite high. My chosen site is approximately 57 feet, diagonally, from the downstairs door of the house. I was surprised when we measured - it actually looked much closer, but my son and I measured, and double-measured, this morning. Perhaps I am worrying about this for nothing, and the distance is sufficient.
Issue #2: There is no gate or entrance to the field from where I want to build. This is a hard one. It is DARK out here at night. The current gate is a good distance from the house, so I'm imagining myself walking out there at night, in the dark, opening the gate, and then walking back the same way I just came, but on the other side of the fence, to get to the chickens. Moving wheelbarrows, carrying feed, lugging water in winter, etc. will be a frustration very quickly.
So, here's the gate currently (if you click on the photo to enlarge, the arrow may show up better):
Here's where it needs to be:
Because the fencing is electrified, this makes any alteration complicated. And expensive. It's going to cost about $600 just to put in a small, new gate, sink new posts, rewire, recap, and reground the fencing.
Yet, amid all the complexities of getting my project going and mulling it all over in my head, a very bright spot happened today: my friend and fellow blogger, Ms. In-Between, (a.k.a. Mindi) came for a visit. She was in town on business and wanted to see our new place. Mindi and I used to work together, but I haven't seen her in probably two years. Having her over was like having a ray of sunshine in my house! She is so upbeat and supportive and there is constantly a smile on her beautiful face. She, my son, Aidan, and I talked chickens, coops, compost, gardening, etc. for at least a couple hours and it was heaven!
Here are Aidan and Mindi giving a lot of thought to coop placement (it's so sunny you can hardly see all those damn logs I rolled up the hill):
Before Mindi left to drive back home to Central Oregon, she left us some of her yummy-smelling, homemade soaps. Mmmmmmm.....
At least we'll all smell good while we're building our first chicken house!