Hi all...new to this lovely hobby of CHICKENS!!! I was sold one day when my hubby brought home free-range eggs from a client...and they were BEAUTIFUL (blue, green, cream, mocha, speckled!!!) and were so delicious it wasn't even funny! Anyway...I've been reading a ton to get info...and have a lot of it set in my head so that when we get the coop ready (not sure if gonna build or find one on criags list or something...but, whatever..gotta be SOON as I want to have my flock up and running before the middle of fall. my family goes through two 18 packs per week (we LOVE EGGS and cook with them too) and more would not be a problem as I have friends who would be willing to buy here and there, although NOT looking to start a business or sell...just whatever we have left. both hubby and I work full time...and two kids are in school all day. We have a dog and a cat (indoor only). We live in a cold and windy area in central Maine (chart says we are gardening zone four...ha! I figure 3 and sometimes 2). Ok...here is the plan...please give advice and info. I'll also have a few questions at the end Looking to have about 8 layers and 4 dual purpose birds and a rooster (two?) now...and to "try" to hatch my own meat birds in the spring. We want a coop for the 12 main birds (4' x 8' enough?) for now with a bit of a run...so as to let them "range" some while we are at work. When someone gets home and on the weekends...viola! They come OUT and free range around our yard...we have PLENTY of room and lots of trees for them. We have llamas and alpacas around us too. As for the meat birds this spring...when they are allowed out of their brooder...we are planning on using a portable "ark" type coop for them till it's time...for...the...end. Hubby can process these as he has dressed and butchered deer and rabbits many times. 1. Does this sound reasonable? 2. Is that a big enough coop...and how big a run should we make/ 3. One rooster or two? 4. The BIG question: I want a mix of birds...to get the pretty colored eggs if I can so, probably, I'll have to get birds from DIFFERENT farms...either pullets or grown birds. If the birds aren't all from the same flock, can you just put them together immediately or will they fight as they don't know each other? I know that I have to research the breeds for cold hardy, temprement, laying/brooding, egg color (yippie!), confinement/free range preferences (anything else?)...but, don't want to set it up for failure. Sorry so long winded...just very excited and there is SO MUCH to learn to make sure that these little chickies have the bestest they can at my home... Thanks.