Hi everyone! I'm in NE Ohio. We have 11 RIR hens and a rooster that we got as chicks this spring. We've never had chickens before, so we have no clue what we're doing and we're just learning as we go. I've learned a lot just lurking on these boards, though I'm still not up on all the lingo. Anyway, I'm finally de-lurking to get some specifics on what to do to prepare for winter. Tonight's low is expected to be around 30. About our chicken area...... We converted a dog kennel to enclose the chickens. This kennel area has long since been stripped of anything green and growing and gets muddy during rains. The kennel was arranged to be one panel deep and two panels wide, the remaining side is against an old garage. We built 6 nest boxes into the side of the garage, so that eggs could be gathered without going into the kennel area. The chicks have a coop inside the pen area that is about 8 feet long, 3 feet deep, 3 or 4 feet high, and about 3 feet off the ground. The bottom of the coop is wire. They have a ramp to get in and out of the coop and into the kennel area as desired. Water and feed hang below the coop. Roosts are built at each end. We used plastic snow fence to cover the top of the kennel area to keep out hawks. One section has a tarp we threw over it to give the chickens a place to be if it's raining. The plywood sides are screwed in and so they can be moved up or down to allow for ventilation. I'm looking for general advice as to how we should get ready for winter, and I also have some specific questions. Specific questions: 1) I've read about insulating with bales of hay. Should they be placed around the outside of the kennel or where? How high? 2) I've read about deep litter. Is that inside the kennel area or inside the coop? If it's inside the coop, do I need to 3) Since the ends of the coop are adjustable for ventilation, should I leave them down just a crack for winter time??? There are no windows, so it would be dark in there....of course we could make some windows. I'm concerned about drafts because the tallest roosts are at the ends that are lowered for ventilation. 4) Along the lines of #3.....the floor of the coop is wire. Should we cover it with plywood or something for the winter? (If the deep litter is not in the coop.) 5) I'd like to buy a heating base and a galvinized fount to keep the water from freezing.....how do you protect the electric cord? 6) I plan to keep the food and water underneath the coop.....will they come out and eat/drink when it's cold???? Sorry this is a book! Thanks in advance for any help!