My wife Chris wanted backyard hens so we helped lead a successful effort to legalize them in Durham in 2009.
So while my book Hentopia is certainly a "how-to" book it is also a love story. My wife loves chickens and I love my wife. I merely like chickens, but I want Chris to be happy so it was rather effortless to put the time and effort into fashioning a very low-maintenance, very low-cost, very low-tech habitat for happy hens. And since I grew up working class, I was also thinking about folks without a lot of time or money to spend.
So, as the designated facilities manager (Chris is the livestock manager), I had to figure out how to set up our chicken habitat so that we could still go on vacation for two weeks without worrying about our hens. There are pretty good chicken books out there, but in truth there weren't any that made the day-to-day management very easy. So I had to come up with some new things, borrow a few idears or improve on a few practices I learned from friends and other chicken keepers.
Our success in making the chicken keeping rather painless, led to writing columns for Roger Sipe, the editor of Chickens magazine. And those columns led to my first book Hentopia: Create a Hassle-Free Habitat for Happy Chickens: 21 Projects.
As for me, I've been without a day job since 1992. That's the year I put my plan to make a living from my hobbies into action by launching my award-winning garden design/plant/build business Cottage Garden Landscaping in Durham, NC. At the time I was also doing freelance writing and the following year I cut off my ponytail and borrowed a suit to run and win a seat on the Durham City Council. You can read more about my unusual work life in my essay at the New York Times and you can check out my website at www.frankhyman.com.