I have not raised chickens before, so I am new to all of this. I live in an unincorporated area where farm animals ARE allowed, tho, so I know I'm good there. I grew up mingling with my grandmother's flock, and I've been chatting it up for a yr or so w/several chicken-keeping friends of mine so I am feeling confident about bringing some chicks home. I have some large dog crates in my garage that aren't being used as well as a ton of large cardboard boxes. I haven't decided which I'm going to use as a brooder yet; probably the easiest way would be a large cardboard area so I could get in there but the large plastic dog crate seems like it would be neater and probably safer, in case a cat should happen to squeeze out the door and into the garage. Also, my experience w/birds has only been with parakeets and cockateils, not tiny baby chicks, and I was wondering if when we go away (2 wk vaca this summer) they will be ok? I have a friend as well as my MIL who comes to the house several times a day to care for and keep an eye on all the other critters (dogs, cats, rabbits, turtles) and always leave the vet's # on speed dial. We live in Florida so it is hot as hades outside. I was thinking of setting up the brooder either in the garage (temp out there now is reading 86) or on the back porch (which is screened). Which do you think would be better? Thanks so much and I look forward to getting to know all of you! I'm sure I'll be asking a zillion more questions! Oh yes, and we would be keeping them for eggs so any help/tips is greatly appreciated.