i have a few questions for you seattle-ites or you research happy folks. i know i could theoretically look these things up, but i would so much rather hear from those of you “on the ground” who actually know firsthand.

it is looking like it might be possible to do in seattle several things that i have wanted to do for a long time in oak park. i have lots of homesteady notions, and i am trying to get a more realistic picture in my head of what is attainable and what is just plain unrealistic. so i’m hoping you all can help me.

first off, i have heard that you can have up to 8 hens in seattle- true? i don’t plan on any roosters, so that’s not an issue, but i am wondering realistically how big of a flock i could really hide away in my back yard 😉 also, do any of you know someone who is nice and honest who could either build or help my husband build a chicken coop? i would probably want to enclose whatever we have in a fenced-in area (like a chain link dog run sort of set up?)- is that the best way to go?

next, for those of you with chicken experience- is it worthwhile to have a dog whose job is to guard the chickens? i am assuming that the chicken feed will attract rats (and possibly other small critters?). i know that a rooster-less flock is more in danger of being preyed upon, but i really don’t know yet what kinds of small furry things lurk around seattle. . our husky will definitely try to harass the chickens to death and/or just eat them straight out. our lab mix will probably be somewhat afraid of chickens, since that is her go-to mood when she is unsure. but i am thinking that maybe a dog who knows that it is in charge of protecting the chicks might be a good idea…

and, for the piece de resistance: can you have goats? ideally i would like 2 pigmy goats for milk (i would happily settle for one, but i hear that they prefer the company of other goats), but maybe the chicken-guarding-dog could be enough companionship for the goat? also, how much space does one need for a goat? some of the homesteading books make it sound like you need very little space, but that just doesn’t sound right to me. and is it worthwhile money-wise and health-wise to actually go to the time and expense of owning the goat, or is it better to just befriend a farmer and get milk straight from there? which leads into another question: can you buy raw milk in washington state? in michigan, you can’t, and i know that in lots of other states there are raids and other horrifying activities directed against the purveyors of raw milk.

and, since as the saying goes, ‘in for a penny in for a pound’- do any of you know reliable honest farmers who will sell milk (cow or goat, preferably raw) or sell goats or be able to give me a reliable assessment of what it takes to own a goat (land, shelter, feed, etc.)?

also- since i am clearly a pre-newbie at all of this- is there any other information you think i should be aware of? please feel free to weigh in on any of these  topics. i am all about doing research and all about having as much information as possible before a make a decision, so load me up!!