Hello all, First I have truly enjoyed reading all the advice on here for the past couple of weeks while I was lurking be fore I joined. It looks like this is THE site for other backyard flock raising folks! I am a newbie for the most part, when I was a child we raised 6 hens, too roos and 2 ducks for a few years before the ducks pecked the electric cord for their water heater in the winter and burned down the coup and part of our garage, all birds survived, but we had to give them up Now with my own family we have decided to raise our own flock! Our plan is to get 15 (due to minimum order size) pullets this upcoming April (time enough to prepare and get into spring!) so I have some planning questions to ask, and I have many! First I plan to convert the back half of our storage shed into the coup, this will be appox 6' x 8' or 48 sq ft, or about 3.2 sq ft per chicken. I know the opinions are varied here, but is this generally considered enough room for the chickens? I will have at least water inside the coup in the winter (I hope to get electricity ran to the coup by next winter) and the laying boxes and roosts for them inside. They will have a run of approx 27' x 24' for daily outdoor time and we will let them play in the yard as much as we can, and the yard is approx 70' x 90'. I have some concerns about their run, first there are 3 trees in the run 2 evergreens that are about 12' tall and about 6' from our fence, will they be able to use the trees to escape?? The other tree that will be close to the center of the run is an oriental crab apple tree that is about 10' high and have been trimmed to where the lowest branches are at least 4' off the ground, again could they get in this tree and then escape the fencing/run?? My next concern is that my compost bins will be inside their run, now I will will them off, but other than the mentioned here foods of onions and citrus, should I worry about what they may get from my compost pile? Due to logistics of our yard there is not another feasible place for either their run or the compost bins, we live in an older subdivision and have limited yard space. I guess I can save my feed questions for later, closer to arrival dates! A friend of our has 17 hens and has suggested Black Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds and Aracaunas as good breeds for our weather and because they are good layers. Temperament is important for us as our kids are 2 years old up to 9 (10 by the time the chicks arrive) and we want to be sure the kids can help us raise them. Ok enough for now! Thanks in advance for your thoughts, opinions and advice!!