For starters, we are complete chicken neophytes. And I am not known for my ability to converse about construction. We have two birds, may add a third that needs to be rehomed. We have converted a 4'x4' (outside measurement, inside is closer to 3.5'x3.5') playhouse in to a coop... Insulating sides and roof, double walling, and adding an addition with two laying boxes and a center hallway to the ramp/attached run. I was not able to insulate the underside of the flooring before we put it down on blocks directly next to a fence and the garage, the bottom is no longer accessible. The addition is insulated with the exception of the pop door. We reside in MN and rock out four solid seasons. We added two temporary extra layers of wood to the floor, hoping to help preserve the main flooring and add insulation. The coop is about a foot off of the ground. Our run is also 4'x4', and just under 5' tall, uncovered at this time. The girls free-range the fenced urban yard during the day but the plan is to get temporary portable fencing or netting (maybe from premier?) in order to have a controlled area where they can range that does not include our deck. We currently use pine chips for bedding... I scoop poop daily as we have no poop bar and the preschooler spends significant time in the coop each day. I tried a poop bar but rather prefer this method. The run is dirt and currently uncovered...Until you help me decide what to do with it. Lastly, we have spent a ridiculous amount of money and I really need to shell out less, soon. Questions: 1. Run. Any tips on litter... From the reading I have done, I am leaning towards construction sand. I would plan on scooping it regularly, assuming it was not frozen to the ground. (The daily maintenance is certainly a chore however we want to keep things tidy for our girls and our boys... Children age one month and 3.5) 2. Dirt bath. We have an old barrel shaped-planter that I would like to dig in to the run and mix up nice for a dirt bath. I can drill extra holes for drainage. I was thinking some combination of dirt, sand, and peat moss with DE sprinkled in. How does that sound? 3. Water. How and what do you do to not have water spillage? We currently use a plastic canister poultry waterer... It sits in the hallway when the run is closed and then is out in the run or just in the free-range yard during the day. When in the coop, it is slightly elevated. The girls don't spill much, but I do when moving it about and refilling it. We have little space in the coop to work with. 4. Winter. I have read a ton of blogs and BYC posts re: winter and am still confused. Heat lamp vs. 60 watt lightbulb vs. ceramic bulb? Minnesotans, how low does your coop get before you provide external heat. How do we keep water unfrozen? What happens if the power goes out? Lighting/heat on a temperature sensor/timer? We will be getting an electrical outlet wired out of our garage which butts up to the back of the coop, still not sure how/where we would run a power cord in to the coop. I have perhaps an irrational fear of fire and would like to have the safest set-up possible within our limitations (we are not wiring the coop with electricity). We do plan to deep bed during the winter to add additional heat. I would love to only add heat in the most bitter of times, opting more for having acclimated birds. I would like to add light... The girls stopped laying a week ago, or at least I can not locate any eggs. 5. Run cover. We have nothing yet. I would like something constructed that is removable, has a slope, and is a few inches over all sides. I would like something that i could lift on/off on my own so weight is a concern. On dry days, i had hoped to keep it uncovered (except by aviary netting) however i noticed that the nesting boxes or even the coop itself would be a perfect launch for a predator. We shut the pop door at dusk, but i would sure hate to see what happended to the birds, the run, and the animal if they took a leap inside, day or night. 6. Any other recommendations for portable fencing worth looking in to- I have read a fair number of positive posts about premier but want to make sure I am not missing something. 7. Thank you for anyone who took the time to read this! Your wisdom and experience has been invaluable thus far.