I want to add a few things I never came across during a year long research on raising chickens that could be helpful to all newbies out there. Now, I've only had my guys for 3 1/2 months but so far I've learned:
Poop smell--not as horrible as I've read if you keep things clean (but not spring flower smell either). Also, they poop a lot, especially as babies. I think mine intentionally waited to poop until after I would hold them.
Feathers--those cute fluffy little things start shedding/molting (for how long I don't know) when their big feathers come in. It gives a whole new meaning to tar and feather if your neighbor is out suntanning with lots of oil and the wind blows your chick/chicken feathers out of your yard and into theirs!!!!
Peeps- those cute little peeps turn into some weird bawking noises that are so funny it will make you cry sometimes. I have two loud talkers that sound like two people complaining under their breath about everything.
Egg Song- I'm not their yet but apparently, no matter how quiet of a breed you get, they sing lovely, or horrible depending on how you look at it, egg songs when they lay. Some people say their chickens are quiet when they lay (I envy you) but looking at videos of egg songs is funny - unless your neighbors like quiet. I'm afraid my girls will want the whole neighborhood to know they laid an egg but we shall see.
Crowing - females do it too -sometimes. I started reading about older hens who will crow under certain conditions but I have two girls that like to make a "crowing" noise and they started at 11 weeks. It's not actually a crow but it is close and comes about 3 minutes after I let them out in the morning. I read several blogs about pullets doing this and apparently no one knows why for sure but mine only do it if I have the roost set up outside ( I guess letting the other girls know they have the best spot). I have since convinced my neighbor they are girls and it too shall pass but I also don't set up the roost until late morning now and it helps alot!!
Litter - I used sand and sometimes I put pine shavings on top to control some of the dust. Everyone has a different method but this works best for me since I like a clean coop and it takes about 2 minutes to scoop out. I also use Sweet PDZ but I haven't really seen any difference in what it does but some people swear by it so I bought it.
Apple Cider Vinegar - I use it in the water but only every other changing. My girls have never been on medicated food or any type of antibiotics (although I bought some just in case) and have never been sick (except respiratory issue from using sand too early)
Stress - For newbies, it will happen. I was a hover mother over my chicks like I was with my first born child but I have quickly learned chicks and chickens are pretty tough as long as you follow a pretty basic guideline. Now that mine are older, I am stressing less and enjoying them more everyday--until the egg song day when I will both be excited to see the egg and freaked out that my other neighbors know I have chickens!!
Please don't let this post scare anyone into not buying chickens. They are part of our family now and I love them but some things would have made things easier when considering buying them and preparing for them.