Hi Everyone, My name is Tara and i am a girl who is getting her dreams realized!! I grew up in Toronto, a big city of 1,000,000+, always longing to live in the country. When i went to University i purposely picked a school with an agricultural college to get me closer to the country. I ended up with a degree in Psychology and married to a Software Developer! We live in Guelph, a 100,000 person town with our two dogs and two cats. Both of us have always wanted to live in the country and raise animals. We are both 'ethical meat eaters' We have no issues with eating meat, but with the conditions the animals are kept (tortured) in. I would love to raise my own animals knowing they lived an absolutely wonderful life. And, although i know its going to be hard, i want to be there when their life ends. About a month ago Ben received an offer to work in Owen Sound, a much smaller town that is quite rural. We jumped at the chance! In this area we would be able to afford a house with a few acres and get to live in the country!! Ben begins his job next week and we are in the process of selling our house and buying a new one with some land. And of course, i am already researching my first bit of livestock: chickens! I am so excited and have so many questions. I wish there was a 'newbie' section where i could post all my questions but i guess i will have to split them up in the different sub-forums. I have been reading on the internet and i got the book 'raising chickens for dummies.' I have a few breeds that i am interested in and know i want to raise my birds as naturally as possible - organic feed, natural pest control etc. I would also really like to free-run them. Here are a few of my initial questions: -I would like birds for meat and eggs. Should i get some layers and some meat birds or dual purpose birds? -How many to start? 5? 10? Lets say space is not a constraint, how many would you recommend to someone who is just getting into chickens? -Is free-running chickens actually do-able? I have two dogs, one will be afraid of the chickens and one will be VERY interested in them. My Newfie loves to bug my cats but she doesn't attack them, she just pesters them. When i had my pet rats i would let them climb on her. I am confident i can train her not to chase the chickens. If we had a relatively sheltered property would chickens be ok to run free during the day as long as they go in the coop at night? I have a ton more questions but i will leave it at that for now! Looking forward to learning lots more!