Hello all! I am glad to have found such an informative and enthusiastic group! Lord knows, I've needed all the advice I've gleaned from this forum over the past few months. I have always been a country girl and an avid animal lover. To date, I have 2 cats, 1 dog, 1 house rabbit, a fish and 3 pet rats. But, I have never wanted chickens. I thought they were smelly, stupid and annoying (all that crowing, ugh!) animals. Then, last Spring my stepson and his girlfriend got a house in the country and, one day, they were at the local farm store during "chick days" and came home with 12 dual-purpose chicks. They had no idea what they were doing, but they got the little ones growed up enough to get them out of the basement and into the garage. However, they both worked far from home and the chooks only got attention about twice a week, sometimes my husband and I had to feed and water them because we lived closer. The chicks never left the coop. Then, in July, they broke up and the last thing my stepson wanted was a bunch of chickens that he was never home to care for, so, they ended up at my ten acres of woods and fields. I had no clue how to house or keep them. Luckily, both my older kids were in FFA and had taken care of broiler chicks as a school project. We lost 4 the first night-bad penning. My thought was to just keep them long enough to get them big enough to butcher. I surely did NOT want to winter them! Then, one day, there was an egg on the floor of the coop. I was hooked. It was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. OK, they could stay and supply eggs for a few months--and then the big sleep. By the end of October, I was holding them, naming them and they had the free run of the whole property. I ended up with 1 New Hampshire cockerel named Cornelius and 7 hens-New Hampshires and Isa Browns. We lost 2 more hens to predators that late Summer, but I learned fast how to take care of my lovely ladies and their handsome protector. A couple of weeks ago, I went to my first chicken auction. Fascinating. I started reading and deciding how to expand my little flock of 6. Then, I bid on 2 Ameraucana hens (blue eggs, really!?) and took them home. After a week of quarantine, Lacey and Lucy were introduced to the flock. Lacey had a bad attitude from the start. I knew there would be some drama and picking, but Lacey wouldn't let the rest of the hens into the coop! And Alpha hen and her were always at each other. Lucy was very withdrawn and It took some time, but I found out why. She is blind. She is so sweet, but it will take some doing to keep her going until I can build her her own place so the others don't pick on her. I hope she will still lay, but I have doubts. If she can't produce, I may have to face a tough decision. After 2 weeks, I got my first blue egg today!! Lacey still doesn't take any guff from anyone, and I still have to make sure Lucy can find the food and water--but it's all been worth it. I want to get some Jersey Giants, Orpingtons, Marans and an Orloff or two, if I can find them. I've got the space, so why not. My husband is a talented builder and has promised a nice coop in the Spring, plus, we will expand the shed the chooks are in now.