Feral cat feeder cam

I wanted to be able to see how much food is left in the feral cats’ dish overnight, to help prevent attracting raccoons and such. Ideally, there would be just enough food for all of the cats to eat in the evening, and no leftovers to attract unwelcome visitors.

So, naturally I decided to add a cheap camera in the feeding area, so I could monitor that. Plus, it’s fun to watch the cats coming in to eat. I do love my cams; I now have 13 of them around the property, watching the driveway, dog, chickens, and cats.

Here I’m testing the positioning, looking at the view on my iPhone:

Before I mounted it, I put it in the storage area above the feeder, and captured this view of a cat outside, lazing below the outdoor camera:

Below is the new camera installed. I considered building an enclosure to protect it, but decided not to bother. The cats haven’t shown any interest in messing with it (and raccoons haven’t visited in a while; I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t so considerate). You can also see the feeder tube, that carries the food from the automatic dispenser above, along with the metal food dish, and the water dispenser:

The first cat that evening did briefly glance at the camera, but most totally ignore it:

One cat eating, two queued (a more clear picture in infrared night mode):

One of the queued ones pushed their way in:

The next evening, one cat waiting outside:

While another eats; they’re so polite how they usually take turns:

Seeing two crowded together, I decided to remove the curved end of the pipe, to give them a bit more room:

This morning, two rushed up when they heard the food dispensing:

Inside:

It’s not ideal that the tube deposits the food at the back of the dish; they don’t mind stepping into it to eat, but a smaller dish would be better. Perhaps 10×5 inches. I haven’t found one yet, but haven’t looked very hard.

Or I could build a divider to reduce the size of the dish. Something to consider.

Yet more pictures of the feral cats

I just can’t help myself; I know I said two weeks ago that I didn’t want to overdo the cat pictures… but who doesn’t love cat pics?! You’ve come to the wrong place if you don’t.

Happy cat:

Kisses:

Three cats:

Three again:

Yawn:

Lazing about (this is from the same time as the video in the previous post):

Looking at the camera:

Maybe a little hard to see, but there are two on the tree, plus one having just eaten:

Exploring inside the shelter:

I was excited that two cats spent the night (about five hours or so) inside for the first time, cutely snuggled together:

And one slept there the following night, too:

Changed the website theme

I have changed the theme of the Yellow Cottage Homestead website to match the one I use for my Dejus blog. Mainly because I like that it shows large images, instead of wasting a lot of horizontal space on a sidebar.

The sidebar is still available; just click/tap the “hamburger” (three horizontal lines) in the upper-left corner of the page.

I removed the header images from both sites, since they just require extra work to scroll past. I would like to add some links below the header row, but haven’t figured out how to do that with this theme yet; I probably need to do more customizations.

Finally, I’ve also changed the background color on both sites, to help distinguish them; yellow for Yellow Cottage, green for Dejus. Not sure I’ll stick with that, since it’s a bit unusual, but we’ll see.

Bee tweaks

An update on my previous post about the bee hives: I said that we put the Ross round super on the pink hive, but later that same day we swapped it for a regular medium super, since we weren’t confident that the the Ross would work, and that hive was dangerously close to running out of room.

Good thing too, as we later realized that the reason it wasn’t being used was we’d forgotten to add the foundation:

D’oh! I guess we’ll try that again next year.

Yesterday, I added starter strips to two medium boxes of frames, just in case we needed them (spoiler: we didn’t, yet). A starter strip is a thin bit of wood that is glued into the top of the frame (they’re upside down in the pics below), to give the bees something from which to build the comb. I just ripped these strips from some scrap wood from the cat house project:

This morning, before it got too hot (though certainly hot enough even in ventilated bee suits), we did another quick inspection to see how they were doing.

Some good festooning on the new honey super; that is where the bees link legs to start forming the base of the comb off the starter strip:

Due to the extreme fire danger around here currently, we used a “liquid smoke” spray instead of the usual smoker:

We had a look at the Flow super (on the purple hive); definitely a bunch of honey in production, so we should be able to do one more harvest this year:

The hive that the Flow super is supposed to be on (that recently swarmed) is recovering nicely; a bunch of capped brood, showing the (presumably new) queen is doing her job:

Some honey, too; they’ll need every bit to survive the winter:

The bottom brood box on that hive has some activity, but not much, so we swapped the two boxes, to encourage them to populate it. Bees tend to work upwards, so it’s best to have empty boxes on top:

We’re nearing the end of the honey production season. We’ll probably remove the honey supers in early September, begin mite treatments, and let the bees build up their winter honey reserves.

More pictures of the feral cats

I’m still enjoying watching the feral cats using the new cat house, so thought I’d share some more pictures for others who also like that. Please let me know in comments (on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Micro.blog) if you want to see more, or are sick of cat pics.

Here are three cats exploring inside the shelter after dark:

Poppy after eating:

Exploring the Cat House Saloon shelter in daylight hours:

Coming out of the shelter:

Traffic jam in the feeder:

Happy smile:

Still getting visits from the family of raccoons in the wee small hours:

Disappointed that the food wasn’t available yet at 05:17; I’ve just adjusted the timer to dispense breakfast at 05:00, since that’s when the cats start turning up for food:

A satisfied customer:

I hope you enjoyed those photos. I have lots more, and will continue to capture them from the cameras watching the cat house, if only for my own interest and future reference. No doubt I’ll post more periodically, but don’t want to overdo it.

Bee successes and failures

We did an inspection of the beehives today.

I’d noticed that the Flow hive was looking unusually quiet over the last few weeks, and when we looked at the frames, they were pretty much empty — very little honey or brood. But we did see the queen. So we think that the bees swarmed at some point. That is where the queen takes about half of the bees away to find a new home, and a new queen is hatched. That usually happens when they run out of space, so we may have triggered it by adding the Flow super too late, despite getting a couple of harvests from that. So not sure the timing makes sense.

Anyway, since this hive has basically reverted to a new hive, we took the Flow super off, and resumed feeding them.

The purple hive had a Ross round super on it, to make comb honey… but they hadn’t built any comb there for the past two inspections. So we replaced that super with the Flow one, to see if they prefer that. There’s certainly lots of activity in the purple hive.

Of the two new hives, the blue one has always been the weakest; it was much lighter when we got it, and it hasn’t improved. There are very few bees, and very little honey or brood. So that one probably won’t survive the winter. If it does fail, we’ll replace it next year.

The pink one, however, is doing really well. It was pretty much full of excellent brood and honey. Just look at these beautiful frames packed full of honey:

So we decided to try the Ross round super on that hive, to give them more space to expand into. We normally wouldn’t harvest honey from a first-year hive, but they’re doing so well, I think they could support it without endangering them. We’ll check next weekend to see if they start building comb in the super; if not, we might give them a regular box instead. Don’t want to risk them swarming.

Lots of bees on the outside, most of them queuing to come in, after Jenn scraped off excess comb:

Finally, a rare picture of me (David) in my bee suit:

Feral cats using the new cat house

Our little colony of feral cats have quickly taken to eating from the feeder in the new cat house. They aren’t living there yet, as expected, but I’m hopeful that once the weather gets cooler, and I plug in the heating pads, they’ll enjoy the warmth.

Here is the first cat to eat in the new feeder, the night of installation:

A couple of cats exploring inside the shelter:

Four at once:

Contented smile:

I was moving the old feeder towards the new location, with a breadcrumb trail of wet food dishes guiding the way, but since they very quickly found and explored the new house, I decided to accelerate the move.

Yesterday, I transferred the food dispenser into the new feeder, and discontinued the old one.

Here you can see the dispenser on the drawer:

With the drawer pushed into place, the dispenser is above the tube that leads to the food dish below. You can see storage of spare food, too, and the water dispenser below:

Here’s a view of the dispenser through the window. That’ll be handy to quickly see the level and such:

Yesterday evening, the cats had no problem eating from the new location:

Midnight snack:

The masked bandits found the feeder… but there was probably no (or very little) food left by then. The dispenser is safely out of reach:

Breakfast is dispensed at 06:00:

I do enjoy watching the cats, and hope they like their new restaurant, the Cat House Mercantile, and in due course move in to the Cat House Saloon.