Living in the City
Still in the city but have a hankering for the country life? Farm fresh eggs on the breakfast table are indeed a possibility even if you are living in the city. While many cities don’t allow any type of farm animal within the city limits; some do. If you’re living in Evansville, Indiana, you are allowed to have up to six chickens, including a rooster¹ as long as you have the required permit and follow the guidelines as outlined. (Your chicken coop must be more than 50 ft. away from your neighbor’s home). The cost for the permit is $5.00 per premises, annually available through Evansville Animal Control & Care.
Not only can there be a savings on the grocery bill by having fresh eggs available for your family, but many neighbors are joining together to create chicken projects. They’re splitting costs of the materials to build the backyard chicken coops as well as the cost of the feed and incidentals.
You’ll need to make sure you plan enough space for each chicken as over crowded conditions can lead to sickness among the chickens. The general rule of thumb for space is to have approximately four square feet of space for each chicken, although it never hurts to have more. As you’re building your chicken coop, take into consideration the area where you live.
If you live in a northern state where snow and ice are a regular part of the weather, you’re going to need a coop that’s adequately insulated to keep the chickens warm. You don’t want to have to bring them indoors for them to survive. If you happen to live in an area where the winters are not as harsh, but the summers are scorchers, you’ll have to make sure the coop is built to provide maximum cooling.
When building the home for your chickens, you don’t have to spend a lot of money buying brand new materials. You can build it from recycled materials, such as wood left over from a home project – even hinges salvaged from old kitchen or bathroom makeovers can be put to use as hinges for a chicken coop door. Did you know it’s possible to ask for and use motorcycle shipping crates as a chicken coop? If you can find an available wooden motorcycle crate, your basic structure is already completed for you! All you will need to do is purchase chicken wire to cover the crate with, additional wood for flooring and nesting boxes, and materials necessary for a latching/locking door. Chicken coop DIY projects aren’t difficult and can turn out to be a functional, decorative addition to your yard. But, before you pick up the hammer, be sure to read about what not to do when building your chicken coop.
Whatever materials you use to build your backyard chicken coops, make sure you’ve provided good ventilation in the snug home for your chickens otherwise you can get a build-up of ammonia that’s not good for you or the chickens.
Portable Chicken Coops
Portable chicken coops boast many advantages for new or aspiring chicken farmers. The advantages include free fertilizer, pest control and best of all fresh eggs. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need a large farm or several acres to devote to your chickens. There are many designs that can fit easily into your backyard even if you live in a large city.
Portable chicken coops may also be called chicken tractors. Some chicken tractor designs even attach to wheels for easy relocation when your chickens need a fresh patch of grass. Chicken tractors are often built in an A shape and some don’t have a bottom.
Another consideration before setting up your portable chicken coop is what will happen to your hens after their egg-laying years. Hens stop producing eggs around the age of six or seven, yet they can live around fifteen years. This is a very important consideration if you will only be housing a few chickens in your backyard and will be keeping them for egg production.
If you have, or plan on building a portable chicken coop, you’ll need to provide your chickens with some type of protection from the elements. This shelter should have a source of heat during colder seasons.
Insulate your chicken coop and use a heat lamp to keep your hens warm. Some chicken farmers report moving their portable chicken coops into garages or sheds to temporarily protect hens from the elements and to prevent predators from easily accessing them.
Also keep in mind is that you will most likely need straw, pine needles or some type of padding to put in the bottom of your nest boxes. The eggs are less likely to crack if you have some padding underneath the hens. If you’re fortunate enough, you may find a local cabinetry shop with wood shavings you can pick up at no charge for your new chicken house.
Prior to setting up your portable chicken coop, you need to think about how you will protect it from rats and mice. You can’t always protect your portable chicken coops, but you can take precautions such as covering holes and gaps with sheet metal, feeding your chickens in the early morning and late afternoon, and only feeding chickens what they will eat.
As you can see, before setting up portable chicken coops in your backyard, there are some special considerations you need to make so you don’t end up an unhappy chicken farmer.
Longing for the Country
Are you interested in farming, food supply and long-term sustainability? There are many opportunities to become a first-time farmer and invest in the long-term sustainability of your own home, business, and our nation’s food supply. As over the years, Indiana has lost farmland to urban development, the USDA has several different programs to help reestablish farming and provide affordable home-ownership. If you’re not sure where to start, check out farmanswers.org.
Making Your Home in the Country
USDA Rural Home Loans
The USDA has many programs that can help you achieve the American Dream along with your own farm. Two of the more well-known USDA home loans are:
In order to qualify, applicants must:
- meet income eligibility
- agree to personally occupy the dwelling as their primary residence
- be a U.S. Citizen, U.S. non-citizen national or Qualified Alien
- have the legal capacity to incur the loan obligation
- have not been suspended or debarred from participation in federal programs
- demonstrate the willingness to meet credit obligations in a timely manner
- purchase a property that meets all program criteria and located in an eligible area
Guaranteed funds can be used for:
- New or existing residential property to be used as a permanent residence. Closing cost and reasonable/customary expenses associated with the purchase may be included in the transaction
- A site with a new or existing dwelling
- Repairs and rehabilitation when associated with the purchase of an existing dwelling
- Refinancing of eligible loans
- Special design features or permanently installed equipment to accommodate a household member who has a physical disability
- Reasonable and customary connection fees, assessments or the pro rata installment cost for utilities such as water, sewer, electricity and gas for which the buyer is liable
- A pro rata share of real estate taxes that is due and payable on the property at the time of loan closing. Funds can be allowed for the establishment of escrow accounts for real estate taxes and/or hazard and flood insurance premiums
- Essential household equipment such as wall-to-wall carpeting, ovens, ranges, refrigerators, washers, dryers, heating and cooling equipment as long as the equipment is conveyed with the dwelling
- Purchasing and installing measures to promote energy efficiency (e.g. insulation, double-paned glass and solar panels)
- Installing fixed broadband service to the household as long as the equipment is conveyed with the dwelling
- Site preparation costs, including grading, foundation plantings, seeding or sod installation, trees, walks, fences and driveways
Loan applicants can get started by contacting an approved lender.
Single Family Housing Direct Loans assists low and very-low-income applicants obtain decent, safe and sanitary housing in eligible rural areas.
In order to qualify, applicants must:
- have an adjusted income that is at or below the applicable low-income limit in area where house is located
- demonstrate a willingness and ability to repay debt
- be without decent, safe and sanitary housing
- be unable to obtain a loan from other resources on terms and conditions that can reasonably be expected to meet
- agree to occupy the property as your primary residence
- have the legal capacity to incur a loan obligation
- meet citizenship or eligible non-citizen requirements
- not be suspended or debarred from participation in federal programs
In order to be eligible, properties must:
- in general, be less than 2,000 sq feet
- not have market value in excess of the applicable area loan limit
- not have in-ground swimming pools
- not be designed for income producing activities
Borrowers are required to repay all or a portion of the payment subsidy received over the life of the loan when the title to the property transfers or the borrower is no longer living in the dwelling. Income limits are determined by the location of the home and the number of family members in the home. The Direct Home Loan program only allows loans up to the area loan limits.
Effective October 1, 2016, the current interest rate for Single Family Housing Direct Home Loans is 2.875% for low and very low income borrowers. Tap here to determine if the property you’re interested is eligible.
If you decide to become a farmer, be sure to join forces with your local CSA, (Community Supported Agriculture), program.
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¹Evansville Municipal Code: Section 6.05.040 (A) 18 https://www.codepublishing.com/IN/Evansville/html/Evansville06/Evansville0605.html
Acceptance Capital Mortgage Corp in an approved USDA lender. ACMC is in no way acting on behalf of the USDA. All information is provided for educational purposes only. USDA.gov is the official web portal of the U.S. government.Accessibility Help