Hi everyone! I have been thinking about having chickens for quite a few years now, but then decided not to. Now, I've gotten bitten by the idea again and have been researching, pinning on Pinterest and eyeballing all the chicks available at my local seed and feed. I have an old garden shed that's raised on stilts at the back of our property that I think would convert easily and nicely to a lovely coop, with space for an attached run available also. We live on 5.5 acres, though a good half of that is still wooded and we do have quite a bit of wildlife. We have a large garden and a compost pile that could benefit from the symbiosis of having chickens. I have two children; a 14yr old son and a 10yr old daughter. My daughter is homeschooled and I think the process of learning how to raise chicks and care for the chickens could be beneficial, as well as teaching her how to repurpose and build the coop out of the shed. I didn't take any pics to attach to my post (jeez!) but I'm sure I'm going to have a lot of questions that could benefit from those with experience. I would like to have family friendly chickens as well as a colorful egg basket, ranging from blue/green (my favorites!) to the dark chocolate brown of Copper Marans (I think?!). My biggest concerns for where I live are creepy crawlies (I can't even say the word without getting the heebie jeebies, but I mean things that slither), raccoons, field mice and there is a bear that lives in our acreage which is a large tract of wood sub-divided among 3 other parcels/neighbors, smack in the middle of actively farmed fields. Also, our climate can be rather temperamental, but that's coastal Eastern North Carolina. We are 25 mins from the VA border and 30 mins from Kitty Hawk. My husband is worried about the shed being so close to the back of the property where the woods begin, but moving it closer to the house would be difficult since the whole thing was already erected on a stilt platform when we bought our house. Also, I think that with proper safety measures, the chickens would benefit from the shade of the trees in the hot/humid part of our summer. Any advice you all have will be greatly appreciated. I'm still trying to figure out if it's best to start with chicks and raise them or go with a little bit older chicken that's already got feathers. I'd like to minimize any time spent inside our home because I have a beagle/basset hound that is very protective of her space and likes to chase any small animal she feels is in violation of her area. Olive is spoiled rotten; I'm not sure she'd take kindly to chicks in the house. I did read though, that raising them from the chick stage was the best way to socialize them if you wanted them to be friendly towards the family. Also, I have to completely empty the shed and figure out how to add ventilation and nesting boxes, how to address roosts and the cleaning of their bedding. I guess I'm really just a total newbie and am a bit intimidated on how to best start without any calamity! And obviously, I'm still in the planning stage. Cheers, Danielle, the Chicken Herder-to-Be!