About 4 years ago, I decided to get some chickens. My husband and dad built a nice chicken house. It's of moderate size with several roosts and nest boxes. I think we started with about a dozen chickens. Over the years racoons, hawks, snakes, and cats wreaked havoc in our chicken yard. When our numbers dwindled, I'd buy a few more. Last year we had a terrible time with the coons, and eventually lost our last chicken to a hawk. Since I was busy with a new baby I didn't bother to replace them. Lately, though, I've been considering getting back into the chicken business.
We have an area fenced off around the chicken house. Originally we had a garden there (the fence was to deter deer and rabbits). The chickens roamed around the garden, eating all the pests off our plants. They didn't do too much damage to the plants. Since the chickens could fly over the fence we opened the gate and let them run around the yard, too. A little before dark they'd head back to their house. We had to shut them up at night in order to avoid serving an all-you-can-eat buffet to the racoons.
Chickens are fun to watch, especially banties (they're a miniature variety). No chickens are noted for their intelligence, but banties seem to be a little smarter. Olivia enjoyed feeding them and watching them (and chasing them). Jesse enjoyed watching them, too, even though he was tiny when we lost the last of them.
When you have chickens, it's nice to be able to run outside and grab some eggs. You know what they eat and that they run around outside all day, so you know they produce good eggs. Likewise, their meat should be healthier than what you can get at the grocery store. Also, chicken litter makes wonderful organic fertilizer.