I was posting on the local thread and thought that the plethora of newcomers could use a bit of help in preparation, too. Normally I'd write a nice article and post a link, but I'm just too sick. I'm under the weather, so it's a bit disjointed and abrupt, but the pith of the info is good. BYCers with hints, help me out and drop some data for the community that you find useful!! On the hawk issue- this is the worst year I've ever experienced, and I wonder if the drought and heat issue wasn't hard on bunnies and other normal victims for the transient prey birds. I've lost 4 beloved chickens so far, and those losses were within about 10 days. I took all of my most valued birds out to the farm, because they're SAFER in the country right now! I have that property mostly covered by avian netting. I think that if I'd had the energy to have a few scarecrows out there and move them around every morning, that would have worked like it has in the past. I couldn't convince my whiny dogs to stay outside for any length of time, and can't bear to annoy the neighbors with their barking, so that's hopeless. I know in the past, things that move freaked out the hawks, so balloons (especially if you color large eyes on them!), hats and jackets (on hangers & ropes), and BIG stuffed animals (with part of the body on a rope or string hanging from a tree so it moves a bit) work well. I just couldn't get myself up to do any of that preventive stuff. I'm burning up all of my energy just doing the regular chores and coughing. SOOOOOOOO done with this crud. At least I know it's viral leftovers and not histoplasmosis or something. I'm paranoid and make them check that stuff whenever I get ill. Enjoy the prolonged fall, folks. Get your chores for winter done now!! Collect all the leaves off folks' curbs- they make great bedding and you can dump them on the snow so the bird have good places to root around when it gets deep and cold. Much better for them than frozen snow and poop-sicles for long weeks. If you have a power source, look for sales on heated dog bowls- you can fill them most of the way with sand and use them to keep your plastic waterers thawed. If you don't have power, collect aluminum cans and discarded storm windows for a passive solar heater for the waters. This could be used to heat the coops, too. 4 or 6 mil clear construction plastic can be stapled to all window areas for good natural light with a windbreak and greenhouse effect during the day. It can also be looped over runs where they meet the coop to provide a hoop-like shelter from wind and snow. I use the 5" garden staples to push folded edges of plastic into the ground while holding down a 12' length against the outside of the fence right up by the coop with a 2"x4". I then bring it up over the fence, use a 5 gallon bucket of sand with a 2x4 in it and another across it like a 'T' to support the plastic in an 'A-frame' at the same height as the coop roof. I bring the plastic back down to the ground on the other side. This is a great, cheap shelter for them and it heats up in the daytime, even with the wide-open end that isn't connected to anything! You can also collect bagged leaves to make a windbreak along your runs, since hay is so expensive this year. That's all I have for now. Add your ideas and questions so we can have a good spot for folks to refer for help.