I need to make a decision and am looking for some advice. I ordered 6 day old chicks and they are now about 7 weeks old. I have four small children and wanted to get a pet. I am a "dog" person, but having owned dogs, I realize the amount of work they can be. I have two children with allergies and thought an outside pet would be best. Currently we have a Tractor Supply chicken coop in our garage. I'm not finding the care of the chickens to be a problem. They have a sand floor inside the coop and they daily cleanup doesn't take that long. It's about time to move them outside. We are on 3 acres and my initial thought was to free-range them. Now, I'm leaning towards having a large electric fenced in area for them. I'm seeing the start-up cost starting to rise. I have my eye on a $180 electric poultry fence, and a $60 rat proof feeder. My husband has a co-worker with a flock of 70 birds. He'll take any hens we decide not to keep. I'd like to keep the 3 friendliest hens. We do have 3 that don't mind being picked up and seem to like to be petted. Here's my question. How labor intensive is this endeavor going to be? I homeschool my 9, 7, 6 and 4 year olds. During the school year, the days can be overwhelming at times. I'm torn between really liking the hens and adding another chore to my day . . . I'm not looking forward to trudging to the coop in the winter. I'm 52 and finding that I don't have the stamina of a 28 year old. HA I find the chicken to be a calming influence on my busy and hectic life. I've been reading articles (The Chicken Chick . . . etc.) and two of my children are very interested in caring for the flock. Could you please share WHY you are caring for chickens and if you find them difficult to care for. I'm a bit scared about health issues since I've never owned poultry before. If I commit to them, they are here as pets, past their peak laying years. Thanks. Be gentle with me . . . I have a headache.