Hello, My name is Bethany, and I am looking for a mentor that I can communicate with regularly (like weekly ish) about my chickens. I have been doing research to learn about animal husbandry specifically chickens for at least a year while waiting to be able to start my own flock, and this community has become my go to resource! I am looking for a mentor who has experience with the chicken breeds listed below, southern Missouri climate, and natural/organic animal husbandry. Allow me to introduce myself: (1) Are you new to chickens / when did you first get chickens? This is my first try at chickens. I have been getting raw goats milk and farm fresh eggs from a local farm for about a year. I recently moved away from that community to a property in the country, and I am excited to be homesteading. My goal is to provide as much as possible for my family from what we can make ourselves. I am excited about my first season of chickens and getting to start with chicks, which was not the original plan, but I think i can handle it with help from the internets and my new community (both online and my new neighbors). (2) How many chickens do you have right now? I have plans to get a dozen Rhode Island Red chicks from the local feed store next week (April 2015), I have found another local farm to get eggs from until mine start laying, assuming there are any hens in the run, and if I find some local hens that are already laying, I may start a second little flock this year of another dozen or so big girls depending on the breed. I have two brooders set up right now made of reused 13 gallon bins, heat lamps, and paper bedding that i also use in the guinea pig cage (hoping the bedding works and we get no pasty butts). I am using scrap wire mesh for the screen under the lamps, and saw hoses with hinged legs to clamp the lamps onto (the hinged legs are easy to adjust then stabilize for when the lamp height needs adjusting). Keeping the brooders in our "project room" which is a dinning room off the kitchen which is a bit of a bonus room where we keep guinea pigs,, play board games that take many days to finish, and store homeschooling/art supplies. i have converted a barn shaped shed into a beautiful coop that measures 8'x16' and is 6' tall in the middle. I have covered the floor with sand that was part of a little playground area that came with the property, and it is full of acorns and weed and grass sprouts that the girls are going to love digging for. I have plotted out a 50'x100' yard with a 3' tall garden fence for them to roam while i am outside gardening without being bothered by the puggle who im sure will think they are her personal chew toys, and I have plans for free ranging outside of the yard and for building a tractor coop as I accumulate materials. building the fence is becoming more of a headache than i was expecting, but i am so very highly motivated to get it done! (3) What breeds do you have? Here is a list of breeds that I am interested in, based on my want of dual purpose homestead birds and the climate of southwestern Missouri with all of our crazy intense four seasons, hopefully, i will have a variety so that we get good egg production year round: Leghorn Rhode Island Red Australorp Dominique Plymouth Rock Sussex Wyandotte Ancona Java Dorking Brahma Holland I am starting off with Rhode Island Red chicks, based on what was available at the local feed store, which are coming from McMurray Hatchery i think, and I would love to have Dorkings in one of my first flocks because in addition to it fitting our physical needs well, it will fit my emotional desires well! Dorking is mentioned in my favorite literature by Edward Lear. I will be so very happy to have some "Dorking fowl" in my real life, even just thinking about them makes me happy! Also, Dominiques are just so beautiful, and my very first choice. (4) How did you find out about BackYardChickens.com? I have been doing tons of research in preparation over the last year, and BYC is one of the most comprehensive first resources for me. Excellent range and depth of content, instruction, and active participation, even on threads started years ago. (5) What are some of your other hobbies? I love to cook, (learning to preserve through dehydration and canning), crochet and knit, garden, find uses for essential oils and natural health remedies, and constantly look for ways to provide the most natural, unprocessed, reduce/reuse/recycle lifestyle for my family. My passions include all things related to learning, homesteading for self sufficiency, science fiction, and British lit. (6) Tell us about your family, your other pets, your occupation, or anything else you'd like to share. I have an amazing husband who completely supports my passions and shares in many of them, and has exciting complimentary passions that are fun to be learn about, such as renewable energy methods and other ways technology fits into the homesteading/self-sufficiency lifestyle. We have two hilarious, clever, weirdo little boy human children who fill us full of awe every day, and a not too clever female puggle who we love so much for her tremendous calming cuddle powers.