Hello, I just joined BYC and have had a blast surfing... so much information! It's great to see Montanans on here, too. I'm new to raising chickens and got our first batch (31 chicks) from the local farm/ranch store in March. I wasn't even sure if it were possible to raise chickens here as the wind blows. We've actually had the wind clocked here at 152 mph before it blew down the town's windguage and blew off our roof. Particularly where we live, there aren't even trees. Not much grows except sagebrush and a variety of grass/weeds. We built a sturdy coop, will insulate it this fall as we get -20 to -40 temps. Our winters last at least 9 months and the wind will create huge snow drifts that, in the past, have snowed us in for up to 2 weeks. Our chickens are allowed to free-range with supervision (wolf, coyote, large cats, golden eagles, bear, etc...) and otherwise stay in a large yard with an 8 foot high chain-linked fence. We scrounged for old wood and we able to build a windbreak on two sides of the yard that stands 10 feet high. All our chickens still have their feathers attached and are laying. We've decided chickens are survivors though we have yet to make it through our first winter with them. Out of 31 chicks, 8 grew up to be roos. So 6 got the ax. This week 35 meat birds arrive (with 1 free exotic chick). I wondered if that is a free exotic MEAT chick or REGULAR chick. How does one raise just one bird? It'll be months till we can put her in with the rest of the flock in the coop! Anyway, that's part of our story. Thank you to BYC for this GREAT site!! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Wife, mother of 14; also we have 2 dogs, 1 cat, 30 fish, 23 hens 2 roos: buff orp, slvr-laced wyandott, red star, slvr leghorn, sicilian buttercup, delaware, black Jersey giant, buff plymouth rock, Hew Hamp red, and RI red.