Hi folks! It's been a long time since I've been here but I have been productive in my absence... Last Fall I started a chicken coop in the back yard, completed it in early February in time to brood five straight-run Rhode Island Red chickies I picked up for 2 bucks apiece from a local egg lady. One of those chicks probably should have been culled before hatching because it only lasted 3 weeks before it expired, and 2 of the birds turned out to be roosters and had to go (only hens allowed, per code). I picked up 2 Golden sex-linked chicks (a cross between a Rhode Island Red and a Rhode Island White...) and a pair of Black Jersey Giants. The giants are the last two to begin laying, and from the gutteral howls the emit you would think they are laying live hand grenades, but they are not....in any case there are six of them and they would all make a pot of dumplings mighty tasty if they ever tire of laying eggs... So the long and the short of things so far is this... In June we got one egg. In July we got 66 eggs. So far in August we have 77 eggs and counting...these hens are really still quite young, and won't be fully mature until this winter, but they sure ain't doin' a bad job now... My costs are minimal. I have a water recovery system attached to the coop roof that keeps a 55 gallon barrel full of water that feeds an automatic poultry waterer. I provide them commercial layer rations @16% protein to support that egg production, and supplement that with lots of scratch grains. I also free-range them in the yard where they have at least 100 square feet apiece and they do quite well. They had the run of my raspberry bed this year and it is better sterilized of weeds than anything made by Monsanto could ever do. I also give them a cup of cottage cheese and/or yogurt in the morning for the extra calcium. Fifty pounds of feed runs about $9 here, and scratch is about $10. Whole oats is another big hit but they are a bit more costly and come in 80 pound bags. In any case, all of it is packaged in sealed 5 gallon pails and we rotate them as needed. This has been my experiment in self sufficiency, to see what I could do to along these lines, and I'm pleased with the result. We don't plan on being a part of any "Golden Horde"; we're secure right here no matter what happens, and fresh henfruit is handy under any number of circumstances, and it is hard to beat the flavor of an egg that is warm from under the hen when it goes into that hot butter in the pan... It's also a great way to introduce yourself to the neighbors, and get them thinking about this as well. I already made one promise of coop construction advice... Believe it or not, you cannot see that coop from anywhere other than our backyard. All it needs is a good cammo paint job and it would be virtually invisible... Time for another egg check...we are getting six a day... Cheers!