Having never owned any chickens I knew I would make plenty of mistakes, so I started with free supplies I could find on Craigslist, rusty and/or bent nails from a jar I bought at the flea market, and salvaged items I found here and there. I had no building plan, other than childhood memories of gathering eggs when I spent a few summers on my cousin's actual farm in the mid to late 50's. Yes, I'm older than dirt!
Started with 2 silver-laced and 1 golden-laced Wyandotte pullets, who started laying about 4 or 5 weeks after I got them. I later added 3 Americaunas(biege with reddish markings) that were supposed to start laying within a week or two. (So the seller said...) I think that was my 2nd mistake (the 1st was forging ahead with no building plan,) LOL
But I am learning fast as lightning, because sadly, I lost one of my silver-laced Wyandottes the first time we hit 108 degrees. Curse the unrelenting Texas heat! The others have survived temps of 111 degrees, though I do admit I gave them a "lean-to" for additional shade, and often hose down the area around it and under the pecan tree, and give them an inch of water to stand in during the hottest part of the day. I tried spraying the hens with the hose, but they REALLY hated that! I had a lot of ventilation holes and lifted and screened one side of the roof to let heat out, but it was apparently insufficient. I'm taking no chances with my 5 remaining ladies, and since I want lots of eggs, I've stopped trying to chase them down to spray water on them..... /blush They are virtually free-range, as they are loose to forage the whole back yard and garden, so they should be pretty happy eating grasshoppers and the like.
Before winter, I plan to put insulation and "double wall" the floor, roof and the north wall of their house. Texas winters can be brutal, also. *sigh*
I bought and have begun reading "Storey's" guide, so you can relax now, my clucker ladies are much safer. At least I didn't try to start out with a bunch of baby chicks.... I was afraid I would kill them with my ignorance, and I was right! Maybe by next spring I might try a few fertilized eggs under my golden-laced 'Dot - she likes to sit on the nest all the time... But I know I don't want a rooster, I remember being chased by them when I was a girl. We'll just call it an experiment in matriarchy.... ya, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.