Hello all, I am excited to be here! Ready to learn! I have been interested in raising chickens since we moved to southwestern PA back in December. I have read some information off of the learning center tab, and I've explored this site mutliple times. I get nervous though about starting out. I'm not sure whether or not to start with chicks or to start with full grown chickens. I do have a great dane, she is very well behaved but I want to take her into consideration as well. Do grown dogs adapt well to having chickens around? How will the chickens react to her? Is that a reason to start with chicks? I do have stray cats in my area as well, along with some large birds that fly over quite frequently. All of these elements make me a little uneasy about starting my flock. It would be a dream to have them be able range free when I am home and working in my yard. My goal would just be to have egg producers, I'm probably not ready to breed just yet, possibly down the road a ways. Any recommendations on a breed or mixture of breeds? How many birds is a good amount for a beginner? Is it easy to introduce more birds into a flock? Last winter was pretty cold, and I hear this coming winter will be just as bad if not worse, so I would need a breed that is adaptable to colder weather... I hope to turn half of my utility shed into the coop, it was build by the previous owner for his dogs. So its nicely divided into 3 parts, with two dog doors for two sections. It is my hope to combine the dog pin areas into the coop. I have already named my coop that doesn't exhist yet, which was a sign to be that I need to get started with this project. Its obviously something I dream of doing, and I dream about it often, scanning Craigslist for chickens, chicks, coops, and supplies, along with scanning a few articles here and there. I also have a tendency to check out all the chicken items at the local tracter supply store, along with nurseries I visit that also supply chicken feed etc. I appreciate any and all advice as I have no previous experience in this at all, and I also have very little experience builing things. But I am greatly looking forward to this experience. Sincerely, *the soon to be the Keeper of the Kicken Koop!