Hi, I am new to the forum and I hope I can get some answers to my questions. I had written this out to a chicken breeder that never returned a reply. Thanks beforehand. Hi, I loved your articles. So informational. I am receiving 3 Rhode Island Red females 2-3 day old chicks the first of July. This will be my first attempt at chicken raising. I am hoping they will be good pets for my husband, myself, and my grandchildren. Also looking forward to some great fresh eggs! I think I have down what to do with the chicks when I get them thanks to your articles. My concerns are the housing for them as they mature and when they are fully grown. I am sending a picture of an old pen that I am planning on using for the 3 hens. As you will be able to see, there are 2 separate houses with an open area in the center. The boxes are rectangular with a wind break on the inside of the smaller box. The boxes are insulated wood with tops that lift off. The center has boards with spaces in between them. (They can be completely boarded up so there are no spaces if you feel this needs to be done). The back is screened in. It is all about 3 feet or so off of the ground. Also, there is a plank that leads down to the ground. The area is approx. 16' X 10' and is fenced in with chicken wire. I was hoping you could give me some tips as to where to make the roosts, where to put food and water, where to put the nesting box, and any other info. you may have to help me along. I was also concerned with rats. What is the best way to combat them and make sure they don't overrun the place. If we start seeing them I know my husband will make me get rid of the chickens and I don't want that. I have read where some people say that where there are chickens there are rats and some say that is not necessarily true. What is your opinion on this? We also raise rabbits and beagles but none of them are caged they are all fenced in. All their feed is put in rubbermaid tubs. Is it true that food has to be left out at all times for chickens? Please mail me soon and give me your suggestions for my setup. Also, possible suggestions on easy cleanup for my setup would be appreciated. My husband is going to cover the fenced in area with more wire also. Do you think this fenced in area is big enough for 3 full grown hens? How about the houses? I want them to be healthy and happy girls! We are home alot and plan on letting them out in the yard when we are around but putting them in the fenced in area when we leave.