We moved out into the country last July and we're ready to embrace the rural life! My native Southern Californian wife can't wait for this miserable winter to end so we can get out there and get our hands dirty. We recently decided to do "the chicken thing" and went out and bought our first chicks yesterday. I don't have the coop or run built yet, but with Spring Break next week, it should be done soon. We're vegetarians, so we'll have layers. 1. Chicks - We bought 3 Leghorn Whites and 3 Austalorps. We have no idea what gender they are and part of me is assuming the worst since we bought them in a retail store, our local Farm King. They are nice and warm under the heat light and our kids (6 and 4) are loving it. I got the starter feed and the fellow at the store today told me they don't need grit yet. What's the story on that? i'm assuming they do. 2. Coop - We have a 2nd garage and my plan is to build the chickens a nice home in the back corner of the garage (used as a shed/workshop). It looks like what will work best as far as window and beam placement is for the chicken area in there to be 9'x6'. My plan is to frame it up and then rather than wall it off, just use chicken-wire to section it off from the rest of the garage right now. I'm sure I'd need to put up cementboard and everything in the winter to make it more easy to control the temperature. Is there a reason I'd need to wall it off now? I do plan to have plywood at the bottom to keep the mess down and contained. 3. Run - The run will obviously be attached to the backside of the garage. The garage is 17' across and I'll go across the whole thing. I believe I'll go 12' out. My plan is to frame the run with treated 2x4's. I plan to bury the hardware cloth 12" for predator protection. I hope I'll get enough protection by going up 3' with the hardware cloth and then up another 3 feet with chicken wire. It's a pretty big run and hardware cloth is PRICEY. So the run would be 6' tall and I'll probably do chicken wire over the top rather than netting. Any suggestions with this plan? We have a lot of land and the plan is for the chickens to free-range dawn til dusk. 4. Predators - We live in rural Illinois, so we have a lot of predators. It seems like we don't see many raccoons. I think the coyotes keep them in check. But they are around. There's really no way for anything (besides snakes) to get in the garage and I'll have their little door locked down good at night. 5. Numbers - Well, we are starting with six. Obviously with a coop that is 9x6 and a run that is 17x12, we have plenty of room to grow. We'd also like to maybe get a few ducks. A friend suggested we get free-range guineas to roam the land. That's our story. We're newbies that have kind of thrown ourselves in the pool. I'm glad I found this site and I've gotten a ton of info off it already.