I had actually tried a small experiment without divulging to you dear readers. It was semi-successful. I didn't use enough pellets, and although they fluffed appropriately, they barely covered the shed area.
Anyway, I'm now starting with about 3/4 of a bag. Off we go with water in tow too. This greater quantity dictates a different method.
But, wait. I busied myself for the 20 minutes or so I had read was necessary, came back and there are still many unsoftened pellets. A little more water (had to steal it from the water trough). Wait... Still hard pellets. More water. Wait...
So, conclusion? Next year I'd definitely consider using them in the early cold weather season and at the end. Michigan's cold temps won't allow for the in-between frigid months (water would freeze before softening pellets).
More importantly -- waiting more than 20 minutes for absorption is the key.