Hi All, I've been reading lots of good info on this site. My wife and I just started our first flock of chickens. We have reptile experience previously (corn snakes, rainbow boas, kings, milks, and crested geckos) so we already had a suitable homemade incubator. We owned/lived in a 3 family house in a small city with no room for chickens before. Last summer, we bought a house on 2.75 acres in the country (or at least as close as it gets around here - Berkley, MA) and now we're ready to start our flock. The house came with an existing very large fenced in chicken run area and a pretty big (but in rough shape) coop. We've thoroughly cleaned things out and gotten everything prepared for them to move in including patching up the fencing where needed. A friend provided a dozen eggs from his flock and we got a 75% hatch rate for a total of 9. 3 unfortunately were fully developed but didn't make it out of the egg. I think they were mispositioned. We manually turned eggs and I think I did the math wrong and we turned 1 day longer than we should. They hatched Sat/Sun and are almost a week old now. 6 lavender orpingtons and 3 barred rock hatched. 1 of the orps needed help getting out of the egg. It pipped in a few places but never managed to unzip so I helped it after almost a full day of it trying. The membrane was a bit dried and stuck to it but it otherwise was in pretty good shape. It's a bit of a run so we've been making sure it gets to eat and stuff and seems to be improving quite a bit already. We also ended up getting 2 ISA brown pullets from TSC to round things out since we lost a few eggs. We're using a momma heating pad for the heat source in their brooder, a *very* large (~4.5' x 2') cardboard box.. Unfortunately, one of the chicks died on the 3rd night from it (or rather our implementation of it). We used a piece of hardware cloth to make the cave and covered it with the heating pad. One of the chicks managed to get it's head stuck on top of the wire and under the heating pad so it couldn't get back out. It either strangled or cooked from the heat We have since added chicken wire to it to keep them from being able to stick their heads though. They've been kept inside for now but we plan to put them out in the coop next weekend, still in their brooder w/ the heat pad. Hopefully everything goes well from here Thanks for all the info I've read already to everyone!