Hi There, I'm still in the planning and plotting, scheming and dreaming stage of chicken ownership. It's taken a few months to convince my partner how much improved our life will be once chickens are included in the picture. I think I've finally succeeded, as I received a copy of "City Chicks" (We're rural, but the book is still relevant!), "The Chicken Health Handbook" and a subscription to "Backyard Poultry" for Christmas! We are even going to the NE Poultry Congress Show tomorrow, as we are hoping to find local folks who have the breeds we are interested in, rather than going the shipping route this spring. I've been lurking on this site for a few weeks now, getting a lot of great information. I'll be building a coop this spring, and I've found many helpful tips here. We already have our four raised garden beds fenced in, to protect against woodchucks. I'm planning on building a coop with a run within this fenced area, and allowing them in the garden area in early spring and then once the plants have matured and/or been shielded from hungry beaks. I started out wanting chickens as source of fresh, humanely raised eggs, but have been very impressed reading about all the good that chickens contribute to the garden. Compost making and eating weeds/weed seeds and all the garden bugs! Any chicken living with us needn't worry about retirement once her egg laying days are over... as long as she's willing to eat bugs and poop, she's more than welcome! (Who am I kidding? They will be pets and always welcome... I'm just weird for considering pooping a bonus I guess.) The breeds I'm considering are Bantam Ameraucanas, Orpingtons, and Wyandottes. Sheesh! I haven't even gotten any chickens yet, and I'm already obsessed. What's going to happen once I actually have birds?!!