(skip to third paragraph to get to the point) (1)I'm not sure how I put this in the right topic area but I'll try to figure that out after I post this. I'm on a mad time crunch! There is so much conflicting information out there that I thought it would be best for the survival of my chicks to just ask the age-old question tailored to my specific needs. (2)So here we are at the end of November near Salisbury, Mocksville, Mt. Ulla, Mooresville, Statesville, NC and my chicken journey so far has been pretty backwards. First I got the hens and rooster, then I got the chicken coop, then I lost a rooster, then I got 2 roosters to my two hens, and now I need more hens to my roosters (who are 15 wks old currently). I found a local guy who is going to give me a call in a week or two when his next batch hatches (orpingtons) and I will get my first batch of baby chicks! (Now tell me how excited you are for me!) I realize it's not the optimal time of the year for baby chicks but this is when it has happened for me and even winter chicks need homes. (3)First, the quick questions: a) I plan on ordering 25 chicks from mcmurray hatchery early next year. Any advice on this company? Stay away, very reputable, etc? b) How badly do the chicks smell (I'm not a dirty person so I will be cleaning out the brooder box everyday but this first one will be in my living room so I would like to know what to expect)? c) being that winter is approaching in a few weeks, how long do they need to be inside before I can put them outside? d) Is anyone in my area selling adult hens right now? I would like to mostly stick with heritage breeds and colored egg-layers. e) At what age do roos start to, uhm, "jump" the hens? My 1.5 year RIR hens don't like my 15 week orpington roos and are kind of mean to them but I need to know how much time I have before I need more hens for the roos. Even though I'm getting chicks next week I don't think they'll fit the bill for the roos yet since they are 4 months behind them in life. But I don't know anything so anyone chime in. (4)For 10-12 chickies, I plan on building a 2'x4' at 2' high box (I think that's 8 square feet of floor room? Tell me I learned something in geometry? lol) out of 1/4" plywood, OSB, or MDF (suggestions?) and either plexi-glass or upcycled single-pane farm windows for the front for viewing. I may add a partial second level since they'll be in there so long. If they need to be in there longer than 6-8 weeks I may build a 4'x8'x3'high box in the unheated garage and move them there for as long as I need to until I can put them out. (5) And lastly, does anyone have any good cleaning tips for the brooder box? I was thinking about laying some scrap laminate on the bottom underneath the shavings so their mess doesn't soak into the wood. I'd love to hear tips from the ones who have been there and done that. I'm sorry, I said I have a lot of questions but I did try to keep it short. I just want to make sure I'm not ill-prepared for the chicks. Any help is great. Thanks!