Hello everyone. This is my first post, so I apologize if I've put it in the wrong location. I have kept sebrights before as just pets, but it has been about 10 years ago. My boyfriend and I want to start our own small flock of dual purpose chickens (for eggs mostly, but we do plan to use them for meat eventually). What we would like to do is start out with 4-6 hens to 'get our feet wet' so to speak, and then expand later on as we become more comfortable with what we are doing, and when we know that the chickens will be safe from predators and thrive in the environment we provide for them. My main question is what breed or breeds we should start with. I have done a little bit of reading, and I was thinking Wyandottes, Sussex, sex links, NH or RI reds, or maybe Ameraucanas, Orpingtons, or Black Australorps, but I read somewhere that the Australorps can be skittish, and we want friendly chickens that we can approach and interact with. Where we live, it can get pretty cold in the winter, and it's generally humid during the summer, so we need chickens that can tolerate the temperatures. The cold is my primary concern, because the area we plan to put them is mainly shaded. We aren't against Bantam breeds that lay large sized eggs (like the Welsummers, etc.), either. We live in a community just outside of Canton, North Carolina, which is West of Asheville, NC. It is rural and there are coyotes, opossums, racoons, and skunks, as well as the odd stray dog or cat. We plan to enclose an area behind our house that is currently partially fenced, and place a coop inside that area. It used to be where a garden was grown, so it's just basically weeds and such now - it isn't grassy or landscaped. We will not be able to put a roof over the area we are fencing in. Thanks in advance for your input.