Hello everyone. I wanted to say a "THANK YOU" (a really big thanks) to all of you who have participated in this forum. For the past year (since April 2012), I've been perusing this site to help me with my new adventure of raising chickens. See, I came to up here (north dakota) from florida to help take care of my mom and assist my dad in 2011. My fiance and I moved into their house, got jobs and our spare time was helping my 67 yr old dad take care of my mom and the household. During the time frame of her illness, I was able to see the possibilities of my dad's place situated on 10 acres. I told him there is a lot of potential and he said perhaps i should raise chickens. I didn't want to at the time because of my mother's health. Taking her to the doctors and caring for her was a full time job in itself. When she passed away February 2012, I started thinking about getting chicks. I didn't know what to do and that's when I found this forum. I saw all sorts of advise and saw many beautiful pictures. I was thus inspired to jump right in. I ordered 15 chicks which they arrived early April 2012. For their brooder, I had built my own out of scrap wood and bought chicken wire. Since, it was still pretty cold outside, I put the brooder in my room at night. Their little peeping kept me awake so I had to figure something else out. I then cleared off our porch and placed the brooder there. They stayed in the room for about 4 days and on the porch for 6 weeks. While they were on the porch, my dad and I would watch them. Just sit there and watch their little antics. Ever since they were 3 days old until they were about 3 weeks old, I supplied them with 'scratch' dirt. I would go outside, find worms, bugs and dandelions and offer this snack to the chicks. They were so funny to watch because they would peck at it then bath then peck. I had to kill one of my baby chicks though. This chicks name was Quasimoto. Quasi had a bump on his back from birth. I didn't think it would have been a big deal but when they were about 10 days old, i noticed the other chicks pecking at it. The next day Quasi's bump was bleeding. I searched this site for advise and comfort. perhaps there was an alternative to what i figured had to be done. Quasi wasn't eating very much and often sat by himself. I ended up doing the enevitable. I cried myself to sleep that night. After 2 weeks went (14 day old chicks) by, I thought that perhaps they could go outside with me, so I could teach them about scratching and bug finding. I toted them in a plastic tub and outside we went. The first time, we only stayed out for 15 minutes. they were pretty cold. I tipped the tub on its side so they would have the safety of the tub but the fresh air too. I did this every day till I figured they were 'ready' to scratch on their own and also they were getting too big for the tub I would take them outside, set them down and sit there with them and scratch at the grass and dirt. Their favorite bugs were orange colored ants. I helped them find mealy worms, beetles, earthworms (some didn't like them too much) seeds and other good dusting spots. I was nicknamed mother hen because after awhile, the chicks would follow me under my feet. I learned that I had 2 buff bantam silkies, one buff japanese bantam, one white japanese bantam, 2 pretty cochins, and 7 red stars (not sure what quasi moto was). Your site was extremely helpful for me to identify them I then ordered 25 more chickens from McMurray, i found another store to order from, canceled the mcmurray order and ordered from the other place. WELLLL, the McMurray order didn't really cancel and instead of having 25 show up I had 50! So I became the Accidental chicken farmer with a total ( June 12 2012)- 52+7= 59 chickens To date out of the original batch: the Silkie bantam (named flow who was the best dang rooster!) and 1 cochin was eaten by the dog 2 reds lost to tall grass 1 cochins and a silkie lost due to my dad not able to get them in their coop buff japanese bantam recently died due to intestinal issues out of the second order of chickens I lost one because she flew into the door window so hard she cracked her skull (didn't know that until i culled her and examined her skull-it shattered in two pieces ) Right now, my chickens are doing fairly well. I have 3 heat lamps in a shed that is a 16ftlx16ftwx16ftheight chicken shed. Keith and I insulated the walls, I built a perch with a lamp above it, and built nest boxes. So far the lamp for the water bucket keeps the water from freezing, the lamp towards the floor keeps some hens warm when they want warmth and the lamp under the perches is used sometimes. The chickens prefer to stay in the rafters 10ft off the ground. I have one chicken (sicilian buttercup breed) in my room which is recovering from wedging herself between the feed barrel and the wall. How she got there, i couldn't tell you. Her legs were freezing cold and she wouldn't eat. She couldn't walk for the first few days and I had her stay with me in the room because I didn't want to kill her too. Once she was eating and reviving, she began to walk pigeon toed and had diarrea. That was 7 days ago. Today, she is still in my room, but she walks almost normally now and was able to perch her self last night on top of my homemade perch. 4 days ago I had another chicken (light brahma breed) issue. This one was not moving and had feather loss on her neck and by her tail feathers. I put her in the house on sunday. She didn't really eat and hadn't laid an egg. Yesterday, she only had 2 bowl movements and wouldn't drink water on her own. I used a dropper to give her water. when I looked at her legs, one seemed to be swollen. The most concerning aspect is that when I took her to the house on sunday, her back was severely bleeding and she had some head feathers missing! She looked a mess. I put some tea tree oil on her, hydrogen peroxide, and then neosporin. I think the chicken was trying to perch on the feed barrel? I will have to do something about that dang barrel. Well, today (tuesday) she is in the room with me, she has drank lots of water, has eaten some scratch, sunflower seeds and yogurt. I gave her a bath to see is she would need to pass her egg, or anything for that matter, used a hair dryer for her feathers and set her down next to me. She cant really stand and stays fluffed out while sitting. She had been getting up every once in awhile, but for the most part, I'm at a loss. I will keep my fingers crossed and perhaps have her bath once more? Right now in North Dakota, we have been having minus degree temps and will be having a -10 degree farenhieght for the high in a few days. I cant help but worry about those little guys out there in the cold. I think of my two hens in the house and how they have it made- quiet, clean, and warm. I miss the days of being able to watch the chickens forage for food- if i open their door now, they take one look outside at the snow and literally back up away from the door. My next addition to the shed is going to be a dust bowl . Those little ones really need a bath ^_^ If you enjoyed reading my little story, I can relay my experiences with ping pong balls and nesting next or perhaps another story about how the chicken run kept 'pooping out' chickens?