Hi, I just joined today. I do not have any chickens yet but am getting ready to get some (probably around spring; sooner if I can get chicks for one of the breeds I like). Need to get a coop setup and the place fenced in. Already picked a spot for the future coop. It is very shady which will help keep the chickens cool in our Hot Texas summers. We normally do not get that much freezing temps where I live, but I figured that as long as the solid side of the coop faces north that would give protection in the winter. We will be building our own coop with a covered run attached. My biggest predator concern is the dogs that run loose in our neighborhood. The dogs harass my folks' outside cats and are a nuissance. Once the carport project is finished our next project is fencing in the property and somewhere in between building the coop. We do have a nest of large owls that live on the back of our property that are really fascinating to watch. Yeah I know they are predators but they have really good points to having them around despite their nature to want a tasty hen if they can catch it. They help scare off other smaller predators, keep rodent numbers, and snakes down. We do enjoy bird watching from our dinning room windows. There are also hawks that live in our part of Texas. Other predators that roam our neck of the woods are raccoons, possums, skunks, bobcats, and I have even seen coyotas. (Even knowing these guys are round about the neighborhood dogs do more damage; this is why we want to make our coop as predator proof as possible. The chickens will have plenty of coop space; however, the idea is to allow them to run in the yard for natural foraging once we have the place fenced) I already have the getahen fever but am trying to force myself to wait til' everything is ready. Really like the Ameraucana breed but am a bit dizzy over how easily confusing finding pure breed birds are. There is a lot of mixing up of the Ameraucanas, Araucanas, and Easter Eggers (the colour egg mutts (mutts are loving so no pun intended; but I do want a pure breed)) by different hatcheries and mixed info on the net. Despite this I have read some good advice for making sure to get suitable birds. Other breeds that have caught my attention are the Barnevelder, Wyandotte, Crevacours, and Araucanas (I am leaning toward the Ameraucanas more then the Araucanas due to the Araucanas lethal gene that causes chicks to die in their shell). Want good egg layers that also make good meat birds. Never butchered a bird before but have been reading up on it and we also have a friend that has butchered em. Not sure which will do ok in our Texas summer. Lately our summers have been hotter than the norms. I have 2 house cats: Boobear & Baby whom have never been outside. Baby thought about it this past summer; but, paused in the heat and quickly turned back inside. He won't go beyond the door.