Well I have been lurking on this forum for a while and finally decided to join so that I could ask a few questions and also for future considerations. Seems like a good group here, very friendly and knowledgeable .maybe a bit too PETA oriented but thats ok. A bit of background. Anyway. I have been thinking about keeping chickens for a few years now. I thought it would be great for our two kids to have for learning responsibility, checking eggs, cleaning out barn, possible showing in 4-H etc etc. One neighbor (and even my wife) were VERY leary of this idea. Finally a few weeks ago..another neighbor who has a barn and 3 acres adjacent to our house told us they were going to be getting a few goats to keep. We then started talking birds. We were pretty set on Guineas until we found out how noisy they were. I loved their VERY low maintenance personalities, tick eating and consumption and no damage to grass and shrubs policy. Once the wife and other objectionable neighbors found out the level of noise they make guineas were out. So it was back to chickens .which is fine by me. So, we have an area of the neighbors barn set aside for chickens. It is about 6 x 12 (approx 75 sq ft) The goats will inhabit the other 75 sq ft. The floor is concrete and is somewhat draft free. We have some wall patching to do but it will be very dry for the goats and birds. I have plans on installing 5 nest boxes and a small roosting area. Chickens will have access to the outside via one of the snazzy chicken ladders that are seen in a lot of coops. The outside area is fenced in and is approx 400 sq/ft that both chickens and goats will share. I have done lots of searches and research in this forum and its archieves and feel like our coop setup will be just fine. I am thinking about 8 chickens. Maybe reduce to six but the numbers should stay around 6 to 9. I am almost 100% decided on Meyers Hatchery. They allow for small numbers of birds in their shipments and also a variety for any order. Right now I plan on the following that will give us both white and brown egg layers. A couple Barred Rocks, Buff Orps, and Brown Leghorns. I also plan on a Jersey Giant. Questions 1. Should we keep a layer of hay down in the barn all the time? How about wood chips? What do you all do for ground cover? Do you do nothing at all? Should we just leave the concrete exposed? What is easiest to clean? 2. Also looking at Speckled Sussex. Are their eggs closer to white or brown? 3. Any thoughts/feedback on Meyers Hatchery? 4. Plan on moving chicks outside around 4 or 5 weeks. Sorry, but my house is for my wife and kids, and maybe a dog someday. A month with chickens in the basement is going to be plenty. Will be moving them outside in mid April. Nightime temps should not dip below 40. Any issues? 5. Anything I can do to ensure success and enjoyment for the kids with the chickens? Thanks for any pointers. A few people I work with have chickens so they have been very helpful and will be loaning me equipment to get chicks headed in right direction.