We're moving to a small farm at the end of June, and we were told by the previous owner (a farmer who bought the farm when it was almost 200 acres, and severed off our portion for sale) told us there is a free-range coop on the property, which happens to be just off the large bank barn. We checked it out, and decided to order some chicks from our local farmers co-op. We've ordered 15 R.I. Red X Columbian Rock chicks (pullets, supposedly 90% guranteed sexed), from Frey's Hatchery in Ontario, Canada. We've never had chickens before, and were wondering if anyone on the forum has, or has had this type of cross? We wanted chicks that could be raised for laying, but not the super-layers which tend to be rather skinny and light-weight, at the end of lay these pullets should be 6lbs, according to the hatchery and the farmers co-op, and that they can be eaten after they've finished their respective laying careers (it sounds really awful, but that's life). We're not sure as to what we should do with the coop that is on the property, as far as I can tell the roof is a little shifty, and needs to be fixed, but inside you go through a storm door to good size room that is divided by a wall of chicken wire/mesh, and a small hatchway door for a person to walk through (so there is a viewing portion to the coop), and another door at the end that leads to an enclosed and chicken wired/meshed corral that shares a brief fenceline with the horse paddocks. I'm not certain on what to use as ground covering, as far as I can tell it's got some old litter on the floor which naturally will be cleaned up, and the coop fully cleaned top to bottom, but our friend who also lives on a farm bought her first chicks and says the hatchery she bought hers from told her NOT to use newspaper, and instead just use shavings or straw because supposedly the chicks won't mistake it for food and eat it, whereas Frey's says to use newspaper because the chicks MAY mistake the shavings, or other bedding for food and eat it. I've been "lurking," the forum for a few minutes and have come to the conclusion that rather than newspaper, perhaps paper-towel is better (makes sense) and have decided to use that as a ground cover over the bedding, rather than the newspaper. We also bought very small waterers for the chicks, enough for about 4 more than 15 chicks, so everyone has space to drink, they're only 1 quart waterers with a tiny base low enough for them, we'll be out in the barn filling up the horses buckets constantly so there is never a possibility for them to run out of water, and as for feeders we bought chick feeders, the little round ones that look like pie plates, with holes in the top... enough for almost 20 chicks so everyone has room. Is there anything we're missing? ... we're not buying the food until the day before we pick them up. In the hatchery's book is says to make a space in the middle of the coop under the heatlamp, and surround it with either chick-board as walls, or strawbails and place the heatlamp 18 inches from the floor (it gives the temperature needed, but I can't remember it right now!). What should we do as far as lighting, I'm not certain on the lighting conditions in the coop, as I didn't want to go in without a mask since it's not cleaned yet, but we do have and can use plug-in hanging lights that you can buy at the hardware store here, ... how much light per day should they be exposed to? etc. etc. Any advice is awesome!