Hi Y'all, I'm already looking forward to chick season next spring and deciding what breeds to add to my flock. I currently have 5 outdoor hens--3 old RIRs, 2 younger Isa Browns--that live in a substantial coop and covered run that my husband and I built ourselves (we have a small business doing this here in Chicago!). I've always wanted silkies. I love my chickens as pets and taking care of them is a major hobby for me, in addition to a professional interest. Silkies are so cute, and I hear they are friendly and make good brooding hens/mamas. I am looking to get into hatching my own chicks in the upcoming years, so this appeals to me. However I have some concerns: 1) Brutal Chicago winters - as I said, my chicken run is covered with a shingled roof and is substantial. However, is that enough? I know silkies cannot get wet especially in the cold... the roof is substantial but the walls are just hardware cloth so moisture can still get in. Is that acceptable, or should I build an indoor aviary to bring silkies indoors in the winters? Is there a correct protocol for this? This leads me to another concern: 2) Indoor cats - I have a bengal cat who is a real bird stalker. If I build an indoor aviary/coop, I'm sure he'll spend a lot of time staring at them. My other hens are NOT afraid of cats--on the contrary! But are silkies small enough to be frightened of housecats? And could a silkie ever get used to a cat's looming visual presence if their structure is safe enough? I'm completely confident in my ability to create a sturdy cat-proof structure, but I'm worried he'll stress them out. Should I look instead to the garage (not as pleasant)? 3) Pre-existing larger hens - My young Isa Browns are pretty sweet and docile, but my old RIRs are HUGE and real bullies too, always going after my younger ones. I'm concerned they could kill a silkie or bantam. After the recent death of my beloved young barred rock hen, which I believe was due in part to the bullying (underweight, compromised immune system), I'm considering culling my mean old hens. Can I introduce silkies to a flock of larger hens? Or must they always be separate? And if I do manage to get them to integrate, what happens when when I bring them inside again next winter? Do I have to reintegrate the following spring? After writing all this, it seems like my silkie dream may be more trouble than it's worth. BUT I WANT THEM! Suggestions would be appreciated, even if for alternative breeds to consider--again, I'm looking for friendliness, cuteness, and potential mama material. A good layer would be a plus, but is not necessary... I have Isa Browns for that!