Hello, all. I plan to buy four chicks next month, my first, discounting the dozen pet chickens "I" had as a kid. I'm (newly) located in Eastern Connecticut in my first house (and hope-to-be homestead). I'm open to most cold-hardy breeds; I'll be looking to buy locally some Orpington or Red Island Red chicks (or Chanteclers if I found them!) I'd prefer my chickens to be better egg-producers than meat-producers (since my household is vegetarian), but I'm prioritizing calm, hardy breeds over productive ones and they seem to be the dual-purpose birds with New England names. My chickens will be free-ranged unless local predators prove to be a serious problem. I've read Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, as well as the poultry sections of all my "use your land properly" type books, but expect to have a lot of questions for which the BYC forum and archives will be invaluable. I'd like to have more than four birds, but right now that's the amount of coop I can afford. (I put my coop up in my profile; I hope that's standard practice?) I plan to keep guineas as well, to aid in pest control, particularly ticks, on my 5+ acres. I am just now finally getting into the gardening and backyard animal-keeping I've been looking forward to for a long time, and I'm glad BYC is here for support in my poultry endeavors. So- hi again! Thanks for the impressive archives already in place here and for the future help I know I can count on. I hope to return the favor in a while to some other newcomers.