After much research and pondering, we finally decided on a dual-purpose breed of chicken to raise that we can use for both egg production and for meat.
Delawares used to be one of the standard breeds used for meat production in the 1940s and 50s before the Cornish Rock/Cornish Cross breed was developed and became the standard meat chicken. They also lay huge brown eggs. The Delawares do, however, have some variability in body size, depending on which hatchery you order them from. So, rather than risk getting some skinny meat chickens, we decided to order Delaware hens and then some Cornish Rocks for the meat chickens this year. We might just get a rooster with the hens anyway, and if so, all the better. If we like the size of our hens, we will likely raise our own meat chickens from eggs next year.
We plan to let our egg layers free range - at least when our garden is not at its prime. During that time they will be confined within the fence of the chicken coop and let out occasionally(usually in the late afternoon/evenings) when we can watch them and minimize damage to the garden.
Our meat chickens will go into chicken tractor(s) a la Joel Salatin.
I ordered the chicks yesterday from Welp Hatchery, which I have heard good things about from the BackYard Chickens Forum. I had to search quite a few places to find a place that still offered Delawares, but was glad to have finally found them! So, hopefully within the next week or so we will get the early morning call to pick them up from the post office and I will have pictures of the little cheepers soon!