Three weeks ago the only thing I knew about chickens was that they come in white meat and dark meat. But now I have developed some kind of a sickness, a"chicken fever", as in, I want chickens. Now. Pronto. Stat. I yearn for them. What is with that???? It's so much more complicated than I realized! What comes first, the chicken or the coop? I held off on ordering chicks until we could lock in a carpenter. Then it was too late to get chicks in April, so now I have to wait until June due to travel plans. Then the hows and the wheres of the coop are turning out to be A MUCH BIGGER DEAL than I'd realized. Any comments on what we're thinking so far would be appreciated so we don't get too far into it and make a big mistake. PREDATORS/VERMIN Chicken owner at our feed store told us there's no fool-proof way to keep rats out. True? Our plan is to build the coop like Ft. Knox but the run will be of cyclone fencing covered about three feet up with hardward cloth (a brand new terminology for my former desk jockey husband - we're both on a steep learning curve here!) Will rats try to get in the run during broad daylight? We also have coyotes, raccoons, skunks, owls and hawks, all of which except the coyotes pay direct visits to our property - the coyotes only walk brazenly down our street in broad daylight. Haven't seen snakes in that area of our property...yet. The coop and run will be inside a larger cyclone-fenced area. Are we naive to think that will help? I've impressed upon DH that we have to provide below-ground protection around the run. The carpenter suggested sinking 12" pavers vertically around the three exposed sides of the proposed run (the fourth side will be an existing stucco wall). COOP FLOORING Any recommendations as far as the easiest-to-keep clean flooring? A little confused, as I see some with wire that appear to allow droppings to fall through to a tray but then I've also read that chickens will catch their feet on wire. I saw a recommendation re "making sure the floor drains" - does that mean putting an actual drain inside? (Bear with me - zero direct experience with hammers, nails and the like. We're planning to build the coop on an existing concrete pad. Electricity within two feet. We're aware of the need for ventilation and plan to have windows on the east and west side of the coop at the top in addition to windows facing north. The back of the coop will be against an existing stucco wall. It will have a human sized door, possibly two. Since we live in coastal southern California we aren't planning to insulate the coop. Lowest temperatures we get here would be maybe in the mid-high twenties at night during the winter. We might get a few 90 degree days during the summer but the vast majority of the year, temperatures range between 55-75 degrees. My plan is to get five female chicks and we've noted that having a coop big enough to subdivide is recommended. Lastly, can anyone recommend a resource for learning how to set up a web cam? I was thinking it would be great to have one in the coop (and at the beginning in the brooder) so the grandkids on the east coast can tune in and watch the birds. Oh, and lastly, lastly, almost afraid to ask this question: what do people do if they end up with a rooster by accident? Our neighbors would not be amused.. Thanks!