UPDATE: After considerable research and lots of reading (I actually had dreams about chickens!) and some help from y'all on this forum (who have been great), Hubby and I have decided that we CAN do it and to get chickens!!! We have found a great little farm (the owners call it a 'farmlette') about a 30-40 minute drive north of us who have Australorp chicks and are willing to not only sell 3 hens to us but are willing (for a bit more $$ -- $15/hen, which I thought was reasonable, given how much the chicks eat and so on) to keep the hens for us until they've grown up a bit (about 15 weeks, which seems like a reasonable age, given that we can't raise bitty babies here at home). Yay! I was so worried about raising chicks . . . we just don't have that ability at our house right now! But now we'll get adolescent hens, which is a big relief. The people we're getting our hens from are friendly and guarentee that their chicks will be healthy and happy. We decided on 3 Australorps because everybody says (from a lot of different sources!) that Australorp hens are friendly, quiet, and will do well in confinement. We are planning on letting them out to free-range in our backyard, but only when we're there to watch them and make sure they don't fly away Australorps are also pretty, and are good egg-layers, and a number of our resources said that they are a good choice for newbies like ourselves. 3 hens seem about right for what we want, right now. We don't have a whole lot of room, and at max will ever only have 6-10 hens. But 3 is plenty to start out with! We have finally found a good coop design which will fit in well to our backyard and won't take up a lot of space, yet gives the chickens what they need in terms of space and protection from predators and the elements. It's about 6'5"x 6'5" x8' tall, and roofed. It's by Garden Coop, and we're going to make their big coop but knock off the 3rd of it that's not the actual hen-house side. We can always expand later, if we want to, but we think 3 hens will be plenty for the two of us! If we have extra eggs we'll offer them to family, friends and neighbors. I paid for the design schematic this evening and we hope to start the coop building project about a month from now, once we've had time to save up some $$. The coop will face east and have protection on two sides by a 4' chain link fence, and a windbreak on the west side by the wall of the neighbor's garage. The north side will have raspberry bushes The coop will get plenty of light, and in winter will be easy to insulate with straw bales placed around it. We are very excited to get chickens this summer! With any luck we will have them by June, and of course, we'll take (and post) lots of pictures (if I can figure out how to do it!). Whitewater Greetings, all My name is Whitewater, I come from the frozen wasteland that is Central Minnesota, and I am here because I (and hopefully my wonderful, tolerant, animal-friendly husband) am/are considering getting a very small flock of backyard chickens for eggs and 'for pretty' (as one of my modern herbalist books likes to say), but I am totally new to keeping birds, even though we currently have two dogs and a cat, and I've taken care of horses, fish and the occasional gerbil in the past. I have many questions and may decide that backyard hobby chickens are not for me, but I wanted to find a forum of a friendly, knowledgeable community where I could get answers, some straight talk, advice, and form friendships all regarding this new venture that I am currently researching. It will take a considerable amount of effort on my part to successfully obtain a permit from my city to get the right to have chickens, so I am researching everything thoroughly first because I don't want to be surprised or in over my head, or have Animal Control come knocking! Thanks for letting me be here Whitewater, and the gang: Fish the Cat, grey and white almost-tabby, 14 years young Rescue Dogs: Roxiedog, 4 year old black Standard Poodle (21", 35 lbs) Willow, 2.5 year old black Standard Poodle (27", 55 lbs) Hubby, the light of my life!