I've never had chickens before but I've been wanting some for the longest time. Now that we're moving to a house with 36 acres and a huge shed type building that can easily be turned into a chicken house I plan on getting some as soon as I have the building converted. I want to make sure that I do everything I can to keep my chickens happy and healthy so I have a few questions (I'm getting a ton of books about keeping chickens from the library but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask here too). What breeds do you think would be best for me? I'm looking for something that lays a lot of eggs and is hardy since it gets really hot and really cold here in VA. Size doesn't really matter. I also want one bird strictly for showing. How do I go about getting chicks? I'm very hesitant to order chicks online because I've read stories about them arriving dead and I'd be absolutely heartbroken if that happened. I also need the chicks to be sexed because I don't want a bunch of roosters. And lastly I'd love to rescue a former battery hen or two but I don't want to spread disease to the chicks. If I get the battery hen first and make sure she's disease free before getting any chicks and then don't introduce them until the chicks are at least pullets would that be ok? Also (this the last question I promise!) how do I rescue a battery hen? Is there a way I can find a commercial egg farm near me and contact them? Thanks so much!