Well crap, now I'm in trouble. Long story short, I have been thinking about getting some chickens for a while. I blabbed this fact to a friend of mine who lives in the country and has had chickens for years, and apparently she took this as an invitation. Last week she placed an order for some broilers for herself and tacked on a few bantams for me! Yay! (I think). So, ready or not, my 4 little blue-laced red wyandottes will be here on March 5th. They are straight run, so I hope to at least get two hens. For those shaking your heads at the tragedy that has befallen me, rest assured that while I have never actually owned chickens before, I am (according to myself) not totally hopeless. I'm a veterinary technician, and I've done a lot of work hand-raising baby parrots and used to hold a license for rehabbing wildlife (including birds). I have a small brooder already and there are three feed stores within 10 minutes of my house if I need to grab something I don't already have. I posted here sometime last year when I first started contemplating having chickens, and I have been doing a lot of reading since then. Hopefully I will find myself somewhat prepared. I am ordering a small coop with a 6 sq ft yard on it on Friday that should give these bantams plenty of room when they are big enough to go outside, and they will have approximately 30sq ft of free-ranging space additional to that during daylight hours that I am home from work. I do have some concerns: 1. My house is in suburbia where chickens are viewed as only slightly less offensive than meth-labs. My friend has agreed to take back any chicks who turn out to be roosters, but keeping my chickens on the down-low will be important. Any tips? My yard is nearly an acre and surrounded by a 7ft. privacy fence, so if the fun police (aka. those buttheads over at the Housing Association) come looking they wont be able to see anything. They don't have the right to actually come on the property. It's mostly noises I am concerned about. I do own exotic parrots who spend some time in an outdoor aviary, so maybe I can blame noises on them? Also, how high can bantams fly? I don't imagine it will be easy to downplay them if they end up in my neighbors yard. 2. Chickens and gardens. I intend to keep my chickens in a part of our yard that is sectioned off by a chain-link fence in order to a) keep their mess off the porch, and b) keep them protected from my obnoxious hell-beasts (aka. these guys ). However, this section also contains my raised planter beds. With chickens in there, should I prepare to mourn the passing of my vegetables and herbs? 3. Medicated chick food. I have discovered that many chick foods are medicated against coccidia, but as a veterinary medical professional I am leery of the dangers of over-medicating with antibiotics and leaving us with highly resistant bacteria. Is coccidia that much of a danger? Thoughts? (Edit: I forot that coccidiosis isn't treated with antibiotics. I think I was confusing it with giardia, which is treated with metronidazole.) 4. Vaccinatons. I have no idea if my chicks are vaccinated for anything. In the event that they are not, when do I vaccinate, what vaccines do I need, and where do I purchase these jabs? 5. Nestboxes for bantams: What do you use? 6. Moving the coop. The coop is not on wheels, but will be easy to move. In the interest of somewhat preserving the grass, how often should I move it? 7. Banding. Should I band them? For the record, these birds will be pets first, all else second. I don't care if they aren't good layers, but I do want them to be healthy and happy. Thanks in advance for all your advice and suggestions.