This will be a shared account with myself and my fellow. We've been raising chickens, together, for only a few years, but had both had experiences when 'growing up' with them. We started our first flock a couple of years back when we stopped to buy fresh eggs on the way home from 'The Big City' (of Dallas, Texas) and the people who had the eggs for sale were talkative, friendly chicken enthusiasts who also had baby chicks for sale. After taking well over an hour to talk to us and to show us, with great pride, their set up and chickens, we were quickly hooked. Over the course of that first year we bought many chicks and some Guinea Fowl (our plant eating bug population has, gratefully, suffered from THAT, and, man, are we GLAD for it! However, they refuse to stay only in our yard (even though our 'yard' is over an acre), in fact, they have about 5 miles in a circle they roam during the warmer months) from those kind folks. We would continue to buy from them if it were not that it is truly a bit of a drive out to their home. Those first chickens lasted us a bit over a year before a marauding pack of dogs killed all but two. We tried going back to the same breeders then but they didn't have any chicks available at the time so we ended up traveling almost two hours just after a snowstorm, only to find the chicks we had desired were the saddest bunch of nearly dead feathered friends either of us had ever seen. The conditions they were being kept in were deplorable, to put it mildly. The man who had those chickens had them crammed into spaces so tiny it should've been against the law, standing in their own excrement, without visible food or water. We bought ten Egyptian Fayoumis, counting the rooster, and two banties of unknown origin. The male banty ended up being so mean we had to give him to a neighbor who put him by himself. The Egyptian's were (are) super cool, they sound like monkeys or as if they are laughing all of the time. Alas, those, too, met with an untimely demise; all but three subcumed to a marauding raccoon before we were able to catch him in a live trap and do away with him. The male Egyptian has a temperament that he allows the women folks to boss him around and yet, to our surprise, it was obvious that when the going got rough he stood his ground and did his very best to defend his women folk. Alas, he was no match for the teeth of that HUGE raccoon (who, by the way, just Barely fit in the BIG live catch trap!) Before that, though, the coon had wiped out everyone's chickens within ten miles of us. I suppose we were fortunate to have saved three. All in all we have had Black Copper Marans, Road Isle Reds, Domineckers and Egyptian Fayoumis, etc, and now - we have over three flocks (we need to separate some, is why 'over three' flocks) with a variety of over thirty chickens (Salmon Faverolle, Welsummer, Partridge Plymouth Rock, Silver Cuckoo Maran, Australorp, Golden Buff (Red Star), Speckled Sussex, Buff Orpington, Barred Plymouth Rock, Golden Laced Wyandotte, Buff Brahma (and light), .Easter Egger Bantam, etc) And, growing. Last night and the night before we had four chicks hatch from a couple of broody gals. We had to bring them inside due to the cold and also, quite frankly, we didn't expect it to work for them yet. This was this batches third try and they always gave up before the chicks hatched so we didn't have an outside place ready for them to raise their babies in. This year we will remedy that and allow them to raise the chicks they hatch. We don't drink, drug, watch TV, we 'do chickens', and, take in every stray dog or cat that wanders up needing a home. Unless they refuse to get along, then we catch them and take them to a no-kill animal shelter. The animals that aren't feathered that live here have either all been caught & 'fixed', or, are in the process of being tamed enough TO catch them and take them in to be spayed & neutered, or, to be taken to the animal shelter. We're poor in money but rich in eggs!