Re: Want Chickens - Where do I start?
For us, the number one was creating a safe coop for them to roost. IME, if you have a sturdy, draft-free coop, that is predator safe, everything else with chickens is really easy. You can google search coop designs, or you can purchase kits or ready made. TSC is one shop that is local-ish to us that I know sells coops ready made.
Our girls like to forage in the woods, too. We have a rooster, but not for long. He has become aggressive and is not going to be able to stay. Roosters are tricky because they provide protection for the hens, but they can be aggressive with kids or pets (not to mention adults, LOL, ours dislikes my DH).
Oh, and we are in S. Ontario, and our girls free ranged last winter. It was really mild, though. We just leave the barn door and the coop run door open so they can go in out of the cold and they went in and out all day.