We've had a warmer than normal fall so far. Last year the girls were wintered up in the first week of November. This year, we've had some cold nights, but nothing too bad. The biggest issue is always the water. I've been able to bang the waterer on the ground to break up the ice. This morning was different though. It was 21 degrees when I woke up and their water was a giant block of ice. It was time to get them winterized.
We learned a lot last year. There is a learning curve with everything and chickens are certainly no exception. Last year we had them under J's deck. There were a lot of problems with that though. I had to shovel a huge path out to them, which then turned to slippery ice. If there was an issue in their yard, we had to climb under the deck, which just wasnt' fun. It also didn't give them too much light under there, in addition to limited protection from snow.
We got smarter this year. They're now between the house and shed on J's side of our duplex. It's south facing, so more sun. It's right off the walkway, so snow is easier to deal with. We don't have to climb under the deck either. In order to offer even more protection, we put plastic sheeting over their yard to minimize the snow and wet. Last year I spent hours trying to get snow out of their yard so that they would go out to eat and drink. (Their food is in the yard out of necessity.) I was just a little obsessive about it, actually. Ok, I was a lot obsessive about it. J laughed at me a lot.
I can't tell you how happy I am with this new set up. Of course I drove J crazy getting it set up today. He calls me his 'Wife without benefits', but is easily placated with peach butter. Men are easy. The girls seem happy, but they need to start laying better! We're only getting 1 to 2 eggs a day. I didn't get the lights going early enough and it's taking a while for them to get back into the groove. There will definitely be more chickens next year.