M' name is Karen, live in San Diego, CA. I fell in love with chickens when a friend of my Daughter-in-law gifted me with the most amazingly beautiful fresh eggs I've ever had. At first, I thought this woman was inbalanced, in need of medicacations...she spoke of her chickens as 'babies', 'friends' and treated them as children. How goofy was that? The eggs were so beautiful, I chose to hard boil a few first, just to see what the inside looked like compared to the tried and true grocery store standards. I was a bit teary eyed in taking the shell off the first one, wanting to retain whole as much as possible-what was happening to me? Slicing the egg in half, it was like spotting a jewel in a hidden cave. The yolk was vivid yellow, huge. The taste of the whole, magnificent. Thought it might be a fluke, peeled and processed the second, same results. Talking with Carolyn, the chicken lady), this was the norm. Made me rethink completely of how we treat those which we depend upon for product (eggs). That environment and care extend as part of the family.... I have a lot of property, and decided this year (a friend gave me both a large composter and huge rototiller) to convert half of the property into a workable organic garden. Stuff is growing faster than the weeds, and with it comes the various networks of garden pests. Since I stick with all organics, tried various homemade remedies along with overpriced over the counter products, none which work very well. A few entertain my neighbors, such as the beer poured into various containers. Atracted the sluggs, but not the pesky snails. What worked to keep the mice away from the corn was planting the perimiter with mint. Rodents hate mint. Don't disturb the plants at all. Think that when I get the chicken run up around the coop, I'll do the same and stop trouble before it happens. Was planning on allowing complete free range during the daylight hours, then inside the coop, upstairs to the roosting area/nesting boxes of the coop at night, but the first day I introduced the two week old chicks and the five week old chicks to the coop (the bottom floor is surrounded by galvanized 1/2" spaced heavy wire) a hawk brazenly landed on the grass about three inches from the wire, trying to figure out how to get in. My two dogs (one german shepherd, one black lab) are very protective of them, to the point of they seem to understand what their peeping means and will nag me to check on them) annoyed the hawk enough for the hawk to lift up and sit on the branches of my orange tree, about 8 feet beyond my reach. She spread her wings as if she was just sunning herself until I heaved a scraps of wood at her. Question: when the chicks are older, will they be safe to free range if there are humans outside? I don't worry about the dogs, the chicks climb all over them. I also write, work on stained glass, and will go out of my way to avoid ironing. Love the chicken coop the guys of the house and my son's friends helped build, and grin every time the guys forget to act cool, and I catch them playing with the newly feathered babes. They refer to them as their 'peeps'. We house one cockatiel (Jim), a geen headed Amazon parrot Sophia (speaks over 200 words and taught one of the myna birds that nests outside some of them), a black lab Katie, and a german shepherd Leaha. The chicks: 4 Rhode Island 5 week olds that look like 9 year old boys, all gangly with big feet (cute!) and 8 Americauna 3 week old chicks, soooooo cute. All have their own personalities, and maybe because I didn't know otherwise, but they all get along. Started the big girls out in the coop a week before the babies, but no problems. The younger still come in at night, only because they don't have all their feathers yet, and I want to make sure they stay warm. Will post pics as time permits. I've let the kids name them all, and one is named 'Chuck', convincing a three year old grandson otherwise is much like pressing a point to a rock, ain't gonna happen. So Chuck among the others it is. Like my grandson Caleb, he's fast. The bravest leader of the older group is Claire, from the show Heroes because she is both fearless in taking on new tasks and is a cheerleader. Emily is named by my granddaughter, she's most likely to follow and stick with the older bunch, and has more blond to her down, like my granddaughter Haven. Then there is Abby, Daisy and Lola. Haven't gotten the word on the rest of the bunch yet. Learned to offer them their scratch first before offering treats. They love meal worms, plain yogurt, play with the grapes (halved). They don't like hard boiled eggs smashed, or care for apples yet. I have fresh corn that I will decobb and introduce today. I am looking forward to getting to know you all!