...and I'm about to be a 1st time chicken owner! I'm in MO, about an hour due west of St. Louis. I ordered 25 day-old pullets from cacklehatchery.com, which is about 175 miles from me. Too far to drive, but they ship. I don't know what their shipping schedule or availability is, though--their outgoing message said they have hatches on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I ordered 5 Black Australorps, 5 Buff Orpingtons, 5 New Hampshire Reds, 5 Araucanas (Ameraucanas), and 5 Barred Rocks. I couldn't find a single pullet at the 3 farm/feed stores here in town, and this was the only hatchery that didn't indicate "NO availability until late May or later." I have been researching for 3 years (which is how long it took Mr. No Way to finally agree to build me a coop. Now he's Mr. I Can't Believe I Let Her Convince Me To Do This). I chose those breeds for their docile temperament, their low likelihood of aggression, their laying capabilities, and their looks. I have 5 kids and I'm due in 3 weeks with the 6th, ages 8 and down, so this will be not only a way for us to meet our 6 dozen egg per week needs, but a way to get the kids involved in a family project that we can all enjoy for years. We homeschool, so it's a great idea as far as I can tell. I think I probably need to sell 10 of the birdies when I get them, because our coop is 12x4, and even though they will have about 8000 sf of free range run we're fencing, I don't know if that coop is big enough for 25 birdies. Clearly there's a high demand around here for pullets (the straight runs were plentiful today, but all pullets were GONE, and they shipped Wednesday!!). But maybe 25 isn't too many--we'll also have a 12x4 fully enclosed area underneath the coop for shade, sick birds, peckers, or possibly next year's additions (I'm addicted already!)...if you have any input as to how many I should keep, please chime in! I hope cackle can get my chicks to me next week--I am afraid if they don't ship by then, I could go into labor, and then miss the shipment (which would be a dIsAsTeR!!)...but I just got my HUGE industrial size heat lamp (which will definitely go in the coop for winter--it's like a foot in diamater and 18" tall!!!), my red bulb (gotta buy a backup), a heated feeder for winter, 2 regular feeders (1 for in, 1 for out), a trough for the peeps, and 2 soda bottle water bases. Anyway, these forums have been a HUGE help in me getting myself together and fully informed as I embark on this project. Thanks for all your advice in advance--I'm sure I'll have lots of questions. I'm going to post my instructions I wrote for myself as to how to manage the peep flock for the first 6 weeks--feel free to advise! Nikki Mom of 5 + 1 about to hatch, and soon-to-be chickie mom to 25!!!