Sooo, I got bitten by the backyard chicken bug last year when I got pregnant with my first child. I do tend to do everything the hard way. But I sure learn some valuable lessons. I raised out 4 cuckoo marans from chicks. They are pretty much free range spoiled ladies. How spoiled? By my 9th month my garden was pretty much overflowing and I couldn't even bend down to pick a tomato so I said the hell with it and let the ladies go to town. They feasted on all my garden dreams last year, ha ha. Had a sweet baby boy August 30th. Man I wish I had some homegrown veggies in the freezer right now but I am getting some pretty great eggs! One of my ladies went broody in February so I ran out and got me 8 black Australorp eggs which she practically snapped out of my hands. She hatched out 7 spunky lil' chickies and made quick work out of showing them around and teaching them where to find all the goodies! Even in this freezing weather they are healthy as can be foraging most of the day with mama hen. My baby boy now 7 months really enjoys watching them. I also have an amazing manx kitty who got used to the ladies when they we're young and now sometimes when I go outside I catch her sprawled out in the dirt with all the chickies scratching around literally inches away from her. Phew! That worry has been put to rest! So here we are havin' fun and I'm getting my garden all ready to be planted up. I'm not planning on being quite so generous with all the ladies this year!