Not a noob to chickens, just a new guy here on the site. I live in Hamilton, Montana, which in itself is a long story, with which I shall not bore anybody unless they ask. Suffice it to say that I wish I'd moved here 50 years ago. I am married/widowed/married again, three surviving kids and four step kids. None of the children - hers or mine - live here and only my now oldest son live in Montana, but I haven't heard or seen him for over a year. (Don't ask - it's family dynamics whereas: when you see the new baby the first time you tell it that you love it and until something changes that opinion it doesn't have to be repeated again. Yeah - that's got 'wrong' all over it, but that's the way my family was.) I'm retired since 2004, and I've gotten back seriously into music again after a 47+ year hiatus. I play bass - I build basses and I am also an accomplished guitar and harmonica player. I can hold my own the best with a bass though. Last place of (poor) choice for residence was Anza, California - poor because of the bad air that was quickly killing me. Now that I'm in clean air, I'll die* a little slower. * I've lost a lot of lung capacity from Agent Orange, non-recreational chemicals I got into when I was younger and much more bulletproof. Solvents and paints and oils and fuels and brake fluid, asbestos, all sorts of carcinogens, and exhaust from diesels and nitro-methanol fuels. Anyway - I've settled IN here finally and it's about time to add some chickens. I just got back yesterday from a local feed store that had an open house - free food (the biggest interest was there) - and surprise! - two chicken "experts" who told me some interesting things, some things that I do not believe at all and the rest is questionable. I was interested in some Sex Links - and they asked me what they were. OK - now that kinda threw me. ON to food quality - they said that the highest protein percentage in the high protein feeds was a little over 18% and that scratch is a full-bodied food for all your chickens, 24/7. See where I'm at here? I don't believe that these experts knew anything about chickens, what to feed them or if they need to be planted head down - or feet down. I guess it's on the McMurrey (sp?) and order chicks by mail. Here's my dilemma -- will Sex Links winter over pretty well - it gets cold here. The first year we were here we hit -15F for a week, not so bad the next winter, but there have been slips into the SUBs a few times for the past few winters although snow is in the "becoming to be in very short supply" category ever succeeding year. Having been a SoCal resident since 1962, and only been above the 46th parallel since November 2011, I wonder what the best bird for survival factors in these cold - not necessarily snowy - winters would be. For the record, I've raised Cochins, Reds and some Barreds, a lot of Polish (I know - they are too frail for winters here rats!), some Sex Links, a bunch of Australorps, lots of Araucanas, and Jersey Giants, all in Southern California (SoCal). Now, I know the JGs - which I want a lot - are going to take a long time to mature, but if I had some other earlier egg layers, then that's OK. Again, my concern is with the cold winters and I'm looking for input on a heavy breed, small combs/wattles/caruncles and 1-a-days, We have eagles and lots of red tails around here and a gaggle of owls too. There's an occasional red fox and I saw a single Canadian Wolf a few years ago. I knew he was a Canadian Wolf because he barked with a Canadian accent. I expect to have the cage run totally screened with 1-inch mesh to keep other wild birds out for sanitation reasons. So - is there anyone with an idea on how'd they do it if they lived here? Oh --- an' Hello from Montana.