I felt I didn't get to see the chickens much at this time or year- when I go to work in the morning it is still dark and they're still in bed. They come out for breakfast, but I only see them for 10 minutes. Then by the time I get home from work the chickens are all tucked up in bed again.
So, in comes CoopPi. A Raspberry Pi Zero with a Pi NoIR camera and wifi adapter all mounted into a tupperware container. Then a infraRed LED arrangement, all put inside the coop.
So I can watch them from any computer on the network.
I can confirm that they don't always sleep in the same order.
I am still here.. still doing things.. infact I've so many things to do I haven't put any of it it online!
I replaced the spray bar and intake pipe of the aquarium with clear acrylic ones, they look ever so shiny.
You can barely see them. Whilst at it I cleaned all the pipes (including the ones behind the kitchen wall, which was easier than I thought it would be). Loads of gunk came out! And now the flow is so string I've turned the circulation pump off for a bit!
I might have beaten the rats in the chicken run.. for now.
The entire back wall of 25mm weldmesh has been recovered with 13mm weldmesh- small enough to keep most rodents out! This required me to dig down about 2 foot until I was under the rat tunnels, pour a load of concrete and put lots of horizontal mesh down underground. I'm sure they'll find a way back in, but for now- success! I also dug round the outside of the whole run and put down horizontal weldmesh- so anything digging down next to the mesh hits a floor of mesh.
The tarp is because the chickens are currently under quarantine because of Avian Flu, by covering all the roof and having the whole run made of 13mm mesh the chickens can't come into contact with wild birds, so can still go out into the run.
The garden is, if not growing, still hanging in there. There cauliflower and ornamental kale.
So I’ve posted about many a project this year- hydroponics, the auto-greenhouse waterer, the ultimate greenhouse.. But have any of these projects actually worked?
This worked to grow massive plants, but not much in the way of fruit. This is partly because I started all the seeds off far too late (all the plants in the hydroponics system were sensitive ones, tomatoes, aubergine, tomatillos, etc). And partly because I kept the same 30L of water in it the whole time, and it went rather acidic. This proves that the system uses little in the way of water- I only topped up the reservoir with 10L twice in a whole season. But this also proves that you need to change your nutrient solution occasionally, and keep more of an eye on it than I have been doing! It would probably also help to use tap water which has carbonate in to buffer the pH, rather than rainwater which has no buffer capability.
Has worked wonders, I’ve only filled the 100L water butt up three times all summer. I also water the greenhouse manually once a week with feed (twice a week in very hot weather), mostly to check the plants over.
Haven’t built the top half yet… so there isn’t really anything to say yet! The temperature sensors are all hooked up, but obviously inside and outside are currently showing the same values. Build of the top half will take place next year, once Spring has sprung, because building in the cold and wet is miserable. Also, I have no money right now.
It's currently covered with tarps to stop things eating the styrofoam insulation.
Are moulting and looking slightly bedraggled. They’ve supplied us and immediate family with eggs over the Summer, and been out in the garden every day. Now we’re back at work they’re confined to the run whilst we are out- and they complain about it! ‘Free range’ hens in the UK can have less than an A4 sheet of paper in space each (http://www.science-ethics-animals.org.uk/teachers/value/farm/suppinfo.cfm), mine have 12 square metres inside the run between 4 of them, and complain! We’ve been giving them cabbage tetherballs and things to keep them amused. Currently down to an egg every other day from Maureen.
Bored of cleaning standard chicken waterers, I made a ‘better’ one. Time will tell how it fairs over winter (if anything freezes this winter).