All I Need To Know In Life I Learned From My Hens
-By Michaele Oleson Thank you for permission to share such a cute poem!

Wake up early, stay busy, rest when you need to, but always stay alert.
Visit your favorite places each day.
Scratch out a living.
Routine is good.
Plump is good.
Don't ponder your purpose in life - your brain is too small.
Accept the pecking order and know your enemies.
Weed your garden.
Protect your children fiercely - sit on them if you need to.
Take them for walks, show them the little things and talk constantly.
Make a nice nest. Share it with friends.
Brag on your accomplishments.
Don't count your chicks before they hatch.
Protect your nest egg.
Test your wings once in awhile.
Squawk when necessary.
As you age, demand respect.
Leave a little something for those who care about you.
Chase butterflies.

and without further ado...
The Beautiful Chicken Tractor!!!
The whole idea of a chicken tractor is pretty simple. Build a lightweight chicken pen without a bottom. Include a place to roost and a couple of nest boxes and you have a moveable chicken pen... AKA: Chicken Tractor. When I first heard the term I pictured a huge chicken strapped to a plow!!! Not!!! They call it a tractor because wherever you place the chickens will eventually be "plowed". After about a week the grass will be eaten, the roots dug up and eaten and the newly upturned earth thoroughly fertilized. Despite what you might think, this is a MUCH more civilized way to keep chickens that the old chicken-coop standby that includes a breeding ground for mites, lice and numerous etcettera. Not only will the chickens be happier, you will too. Keeping chickens in a moveable pen absolutely eliminates that yucky smell, the eggs are almost always clean because they pen is moved before the muck and slime can grow. :-( The nutritional benefits of free-range eggs is as good for the chickens as it is for you. You will not find a need for dusting for mites, worming isn't needed because they never "live" for very long in their own feces, and all in all the chickens are happier... and we all know that a happy chicken makes alot of eggs.

The event that sold me on the idea of keeping a chicken tractor was the birth of our 4th child in March of 2001. I didn't have time to weed my garden! My Dad non-chalantly said, "If you had some chickens they could at least keep the bugs out that are coming because of the weeds." Enough to get even this post-partum fuzzy brain whirling! What if?????? I built a chicken tractor to accomodate my garden which is laid out in wide-bed, year round mulched, no-till format (ala Ruth Stout). My chicken tractor can be driven between the rows! I move it weekly, and by the time I reach the end of my garden the first patch is ready to be "tractored" again. There is no risk of the chickens eating my plants either, because I use small chicken wire and they can't get their heads through. This year (2004) we are going to try our hand at Bantams so I might need to re-do the size of the wire to keep their fuzzy little heads inside the tractor.

This isn't mine, but it is almost exactly the same as mine except that I  covered in the top sides and back of one-fourth of the coop. My chickens winter in thier tractor too so I wanted some  shelter from the cold for them. They do just fine as I put a heat lamp in there during January - March.

Learning to Drive a Chicken Tractor
The City Chicken
Book: Chicken Tractor (If you just can't get enough of this idea!)
Permaculture/Chicken Tractors

(Ok... so the ideas wasn't mine originally. I thought it was though!)
Another CT plan from the University of PA
Nifty PVC Pipe Chicken Tractor

Plans for a REALLY BIG chicken tractor!
Backyard Chickens: BEWARE! Non-chicken tractor coop plans here!
And if you have more money than time
you can buy chicken tractors already made:

Forsham Cottage Arks

If You Really MUST Have A Chicken COOP
here are some links for you...

(And others worthy of mention for the rest of us who like to surf.)
A Coop of Distinction                                 
To Confine or Not Confine... 
Brooder Banter                                 
How To Start Your Chicks                           
 The Accidental Farmer
The Easy Chicken For Beginners                  
The Poultry Connection                                
 Wire Hoop Chicken Coop
Pen State's Chick TV                                   
Poultry & Brooders                      
 The City Chicken

          Country Life


Some Links for the Ruth Stout Gardening Method:

Living Country Links
The Old Timer's Page
Today's Homestead Forum
Free Outdoor Building Plans
Seeds West Garden Seeds
Backyard Cash Crops

(beware of pop-ups here - there's LOTS!)
CordWood Building
4H Council
Amazing Graze Farm
Gardening On A Small Budget
Back40 Books
Back To Basics Articles
The Old Farmer's Almanac online

(there's something that's just not right about this...)
Our Brooder

This is our very own idea! Sure, you can borrow it. I'll have step-by-step directions and pictures available as soon as I get the photos scanned. Basically, I took an old chest of drawers and removed the bottom 2 drawers (leaving the top one for feed and supplies to go in). Replace those drawers with a screened-in-door and there you go! A chicken brooder fit for the living room. :-)

Hey... while you're here
you might as well come see our RABBITRY!