My name is Laura and as my user name implies, I have been known to nap with my chickens... especially after giving one a bath. ~grin~ I'm a divorced mom with four fabulous kids ~ 14y girl, 12y girl, 11y boy and 8y boy living in the beautiful foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains on the edge of Silicon Valley in California. I grew up on the East Coast (born in NYC, raised in North Western New Jersey)... practically lived in the stable in town (barn brat)... spent summers on Cape Cod... went to college in Boston... I got married after college, travelled internationally, lived overseas (Spain & Belgium) and ended up here, in California about 10 years ago. While I still yearn for New England and the East Coast, I truly love where I live and count my blessings every day.
Chickens were a natural segue for me. As a kid, I was dog and horse crazy... which evolved into a deep love for German Shepherds after I got married. My first "baby" was "Tucker" ~ a 70lb. lovebug who helped me raise my children and travelled over the Atlantic with me twice a years for years. He came from Schutzhund lines, was extraordinarily well trained (by me ~grin~ but that was before my time was consumed by children) and lived happily to be 14. The day I lost him hurt my heart much more than my divorce did. (Of course, I spent more time with Tucker than I ever did with my ex...)
During Tucker's last years, we got "Darcy" ~ another GSD ~ she is an Ursus von Batu granddaughter and smart as a whip. Such a pretty thing with the most soulful eyes! But Darcy suffers badly from allergies (I need to post about that for some suggestions because what I am doing just isn't working) and ties herself up in knots emotionally because she thinks she is a human. After a few years of watching her just get depressed because she couldn't read our minds, I decided to get her a dog... so she could be MORE of a dog. (make sense?)
My third German Shepherd is "Lucky". He is a 100 pounds of doofus ~ sweet as the day is long ~ and a perfect companion to Darcy. He is pure bred, but I rescued him when he was about 18 months. He was slated to be a backyard breeder's stud dog and live life on a chain. Not good! He was very skitish when I got him - scared of his shadow, poorly socialized, had never been off leash or even run! He would jump at the sound of his humongous tail whacking against the wall and was afraid of children. Now he's relaxed and happy - chases Darcy across the cover of the swimming pool, loves all kids (except the screaming ones... but who does, right?) and lives for rides in my jeep.
When my ex moved out... and took his cat allergies with him... the kids and I fostered a series of momma cats and their newborn kittens for a local rescue group. (I used my ex's bedroom! hee hee) We loved each kitten and momma cat, but thought that our big dogs would "eat" the cats since the dogs weren't raised with kitties. But it got to the point where both the kids and I really wanted a couple of kittens. We had stopped fostering at that point, so we contacted a foster group who bottle raised orphaned kittens. "Jacob" is a sleek orange and white tabby boy and his foster sister is "Purrl" is a long haired grey and white tabby girl. He is her "alpha"... but she has our dogs shaking in their boots! Needless to say, my fears that the dogs would terrorize the cats was misfounded and I scold Purrl on a daily basis for scaring Lucky, our 100lb shepherd.
Now, chickens are another story. After we had lived in this town for about six years and had put roots down, I got itching to have a garden again and outdoor animals. I tested the waters with horses and decided that although I will always love them, I didn't want the responsibility of daily horse care. Somehow the idea of chickens crossed my mind and stuck. When my ex and I were on the brink of our divorce, we moved houses and I made sure that we could keep chickens at our new place. We started out with 6 brown egg layers bought from a neighbor's McMurray order (1 black star, 2 red stars and 3 rhode island reds) and I designed (and built with my ex) a cool 12'x6' walk-in dual coop. We made it Fort Knox tough and spent alot of time and money to predator proof the coop and the run. We were content with those 6 for a year... then I adopted several chickens off of Craig's List and ... well ... needed more room. ~grin~
I now have 5 chicken coops including a broody set up, an isolation run, a "dark box" for roosters, that first main coop and three smaller coops. I have a laying flock of about 20 hens of all different breeds, a separate area where I am collecting a select number of frizzle and smooth standard cochins (I'm going to try breeding for frizzle cochins - for fun... but knowing me, it'll swing to serious shortly) and three incubators in the laundry room hatching out chicks every week or so. I caught hatching fever this year (2009) and I'm developing a cool set of chicken friends in my area from selling the chicks that I don't keep.
I'm a member of the Silicon Valley Yahoo group ~ a smaller community of chicken folks who share everything from coop "raising", health concerns, local zoning ordinances, etc. I've met quite a number of them and really enjoy sharing our chicken stories and enthusiasm. Likewise, I am slowing getting to know a number of BYC folks through the discussion boards. A number have been really helpful to me as I struggle to bring my hatch count up from an abyssmal 25%... and I love variety of chicks and eggs and birds out there. I have so much to learn and it seems that every day I hear of something else I just "gotta know" about. ~grin~
I haven't figured out how to post photos yet... here or in posts... nor can I figure out how to change my avatar. I haven't been much of a valued contributor on the boards, but maybe that'll change as I grow in my own experience.
I'm glad to have found BYC - true, I spend a bit too much time in front of my computer (Stop me from buying more eggs!!!!), but I love the community and all I am learning. BYC Rocks!!!
10/08/09 - I'm a Tupperpeep!!! (I sell Tupper Ware!)

I have hatching eggs from my beautiful Giant Frizzle Cochins and also from my gorgeous Mille Fleur Leghorns... PM me for availability.
My Mille Fleur Leghorns: Hawke my roo
My Mille Fleur Leghorn trio: Hawke (left) with Daisy (right) and Lily (in the back)
My Mille Fleur Leghorn hens - Daisy in the front with Lily behind her.
Another view:
My Giant Frizzle Cochins:
Bart - my smooth black roo
Stoney - my smooth splash roo
Michael - my big black frizzle roo
Smittty - my gianormous barred frizzle roo