After almost a year of relentless begging & pleadings from my daughter, we decided to give raising chickens a try, and now we wish we hadn't waited so long! My concerns were largely answered by this great forum, so thank you all! We have 4 buff orpis as my daughter did her homework and found these to be great overall "starter chickens" and she gets an A+ because these cute fluffballs have been ideal pets. Yesterday we got our first egg! After intially keeping them in the coop/10 foot run, we let them free-range all day now. We had a scare when something (hawk/owl?) came close to getting one of the girls about a month ago, but she managed to escape! We nursed her back to health and she was back with her sisters in only about ten days (shocking because we didn't expect her to make it through the first night). She is now our favorite as she is a bit crooked and runs funny (a bit sideways) and makes little hops when she runs, but otherwise has made a full recovery! (We have named her Eileen. ) These forums also helped us a ton with all the questions that we had through that ordeal. Glad to finally join and hopefully be able to help out now when possible!