the last thing i have to find out is where to get the chickens. i really don't want to raise chicks (though they are cute) because i don't have the knowledge and i only want hens. i would like to get a rooster, but we live in a neighborhood and i don't think the neighbors want to hear it :p i want to get pullets but no one really sells them...
If you go to backyardchickens.com, there is a for sale/swap section there. It is very active this time of year as people are hatching out chicks and having slightly older pullets for sale. There are also region specific threads on there- not sure where you live in MA, but the New Hampshire thread on BYC is very active with several folks selling a variety of breeds.
I love my girls! And, the people here on Horse Forum were truly great coaching me through the early days of chicken owning, when my neighbor suddenly dropped off 4 hens and their coop one day out of the blue.
Here are some of my favorite pictures of my girls- to answer one of your original questions, I definitely recommend rose or pea combed breeds for our climate. The Golden Laced Wyandottes in the pictures had almost no problems this winter, where the others (RIR, Barred Rock, and Golden Comets) all had frostbite of varying degrees on their combs, and lost comb tips. One of the Golden Comets is still healing now, poor girl.
The whole gang:
Goldies out in the field between rain storm and sunshine:
Playtime in the garage (they were obsessed
with that wheelbarrow all winter- sometimes I took pity on them and let them hang out in the garage during the worst of the cold and snow):