Aerial snow

We recently had a couple days of light snow… a bit unusual for March, but not unheard of.

I always enjoy taking pictures of snow, but now that I have a nice drone, I was able to take some aerial photos of it, too.  The only downside was I needed to wait for the snow to stop falling, since the drone isn’t waterproof.

I’m looking forward to next winter if we get several inches of snow, for even better pics, but this is a nice start.

Let’s begin with an angled view of the snow on the flowerbeds, pond, back lawn, and chicken runs:

Back lawn etc

A top-down view of the field, flowerbeds, and pond:

Field and flowerbeds

A bunch of snowy trees in the mist:

Snowy trees

Just below the cloud layer:

Cloud layer

More snow-tipped trees:

Snowy trees

Snowy trees

Our tallest tree with the double trunk (as featured in a recent post):

Snowy trees

From lower down:

Snowy trees

Not from the drone, the gazebo and grove (I love that you can’t tell a difference in quality between the drone and iPhone cameras):

Gazebo

The next day, it snowed a bit more, about an inch, so I flew again to capture that:

Snowy aerial

Snowy aerial

Snowy trees:

Snowy trees

Snowy trees

Snowy trees

Snowy trees

Back on the ground, walking to the duck house:

Snowy bridge

Snowy trees

Snow

Ducks in the pond

The daffodils weren’t enjoying the snow:

Snowy daffodils

Snowy daffodils

I hope you enjoyed those snowy pics as much as I did.

Flying high and low

As was foretold, some more photos of and from my new drone, as I practice flying it. Gotta put in that flight time to become proficient!

Firstly, a shot of the drone on the (rather mossy) driveway, with a bee on the nose (I didn’t take off until she left):

Drone with bee

(I probably shouldn’t attempt beekeeper humor by saying it’s not that kind of drone.)

A shot from higher up of the pond and landscaping; beehives in the upper-left, greenhouse, hoop house, veggie garden, chicken runs, etc:

Pond and landscaping

From another angle:

Pond and landscaping

Looking straight down:

Pond and landscaping

The pond, from lower down (with a duck in the middle):

Pond

The main deck, with Rory sprawled out:

Deck with Rory

The chicken runs, veggie garden, and greenhouse:

Veggie garden and chicken runs

Miles of trees:

Trees

Trees and a glimpse of Mount Hood in the distance:

Trees and Mount Hood

I then flew around at a lower level, practicing my flying precision. Here’s the drone flying through the breezeway, as seen by the cat cam there (I did check that there weren’t any cats present before flying though):

Breezeway

And inside the brown gazebo:

Brown gazebo

Those pictures were from yesterday. I did a little practice today, but it was too windy to go very high, so I just did more low-level flying. Here’s a shot of the flag from flagpole height, showing the breeze:

Flag

No doubt the first of many posts of aerial photos

As mentioned on my personal blog, I recently bought a new drone: a DJI Mavic Mini. It’s a huge improvement over the old Parrot one I’ve had for years, and a couple of smaller toy ones I’ve tried. I haven’t really wanted to use those, as they lack a GPS to help navigation, so tend to drift away without actively managing the positioning, and the cameras are low resolution and fixed in place, so photos and video are poor quality.

While this new drone is very lightweight and lacks more pro features like course plotting, following, object avoidance, etc, the Mavic Mini does have a GPS to anchor it in the sky and let it return to the takeoff location, a gimbal for the camera to keep it straight and steady, and a camera resolution (4000×2250) comparable to modern iPhones (4032×3024).

See that Dejus post for pictures of the drone while setting it up. Here are a couple of pictures of it in the sky:

Drone

Drone

I probably won’t keep the blade guards on long-term, but thought that they’d be helpful “training wheels” while I practice flying it.

Anyway, the drone will be fun when we go on trips, where drone flight is allowed (which is quite restricted). But I expect I’ll mostly use it to take aerial photos of our homestead.

So you can expect more posts like this one over time. Let’s take off, starting with a top-down view of our fenced veggie garden and berry cage:

Veggie garden

From a lower angle:

Veggie garden

The old chicken run (you can see some chickens by the hole in the fence between the veggie garden and their run; I don’t think they were fans of the strange noisy bird hovering above; it sounds like an angry swarm of bees):

Chicken runs

Turning a little to the right, the new chicken run and coop:

Veggie garden, chicken run, coop

Top-down to both chicken runs:

Chicken runs

The pond:

Pond

Another shot of the pond, with the pond deck in the foreground, and duck house on the right:

Pond

Another angle of the pond:

Pond

Flowerbeds on the left, back lawn on the right, pond in the background:

Flowerbeds and pond

Flowerbeds, with the white and brown gazebos visible:

Flowerbeds

Flowerbeds and white gazebo:

Flowerbeds and white gazebo

Closer to the gazebo:

White gazebo

A top-down view of the flowerbeds (could be useful for planning planting):

Flowerbeds

I hope you enjoyed seeing this unusual perspective on some of the homestead. I’m sure I’ll show other angles and changing seasons in future posts. Let me know if you liked this!

February snow

We woke up to about an inch of snow this morning, with a little continuing in the early morning. It’ll likely be all gone by end of day, but let’s take a walk around the property.

Cat footprints on the driveway:

Cat footprints

Trees and bees:

Trees and bees

Greenhouse (more on the shelving project probably tomorrow):

Greenhouse

Chickens (more pictures of them in the snow on Friday):

Chickens

Gazebo and grove:

Gazebo and grove

Path to the duck house:

Path to duck house

Heathers:

Heathers

East-side trees fading into the distance:

Trees

North-east trees:

Trees

From the pond deck — the ducks, pond, and snowy trees:

Ducks and pond

Reflection on the pond:

Reflection

Gazebo and dormant flowerbeds, with the pond deck in the background:

Gazebo and flowerbeds

Finally, the cat house, with more cat prints (more of this on Caturday, of course):

Cat house

Recent dusting of snow

Now that the snow has all melted, and we’re probably not getting any more this season (though might), I thought I’d post some pictures of the light dusting of snow during the past week. The weather forecast was suggesting we might get several inches, but it was more like half an inch. A little disappointing, not enough to break out the snow shovel, but at least it didn’t outstay its welcome.

Here’s the brown gazebo, tree grove, and new chicken coop:

Brown gazebo and chicken coop

The mostly frozen pond, with duck paths through the thin ice:

Pond

Beyond the pond, with snowy trees down the bank:

Beyond the pond

Our back lawn, with the pond off to the left, and brown gazebo in the background:

Back lawn

From a little farther back, the path to the pond deck:

Path to pond

The stream (behind the shrubs, and currently off) and cat house:

Cat house

Fountain garden, with the white gazebo in the background:

Fountain garden

A bonus cat picture of Pumpkin drinking from the heated water dish:

Pumpkin

In front of the cat house, with Pumpkin by the dish:

By cat house

The fully frozen pond, with snow drifts on top of the ice:

Frozen pond

Our front steps and driveway circle, looking towards the veggie garden, hoop house, and beehives in the distance:

Driveway circle

The beehives; the melting in the center of the roof of each hive indicates that the bees are still alive, at least as of now; still got a few months before they’ll be able to resume operations:

Beehives

Breezeway cat cabin

Since we’re having freezing temperatures at present, and Pumpkin has been hogging the cat house and cabins, I thought I’d get another heated shelter for the other cats, and put it further away.

At first, I had the notion and wrote up a design to build a shelter on top of a new enclosure for our well, since the current one is kinda ugly and falling apart:

Well enclosure

Here’s inside; the well head, plus an electrical outlet that powers the chicken coops and an Eero to help spread the Wi-Fi mesh (amusingly named “Well Actually”):

Well head and Eero

But I had some misgivings with that concept, as it’d take a while to build, by which time the worst of the cold would be past, and I’m not sure they would use it there anyway, among other issues. So I decided to put aside that concept for now; I might revisit it in the future.

Anyway, I thought that a more immediate, cheaper, and easier option would be to just buy another prefab heated shelter like I have for the cabins. And that I could put it in the breezeway next to our workshop, where the cats often walk, which would also protect it from the elements:

Breezeway

Some of the cats walk through there every day, on their way to other haunts in the trees on the east side of our property.

I put the shelter on the lower shelf of the (largely unused) heavy-duty shelving in the breezeway, and (me being me) also got a camera to watch it:

Cat cabin and cam on shelf

So far, the camera has shown only a couple of cats (one of the twins, and Bella) investicating it, including going inside, but nobody has stayed for long:

Investicating new shelter

Investicating new shelter

Investicating new shelter

Investicating new shelter

Investicating new shelter

Time will tell if that is a successful location. If they don’t end up using it, I could try putting junk around it to make it less exposed, or move it elsewhere. We’ll see. At least now they have the option of another heated shelter if they want it.

Cat update for week ending October 26

For today’s Caturday, I had 359 photos to wade through… though it wasn’t as bad as that sounds, since most of them were shots for the three animated GIFs I made this week. If you didn’t see them (or want to enjoy them again), check them out:

  1. A night in the cat shelter
  2. Afternoon meal in cat feeder
  3. Four cats outside

Anyway, on with the regular photos from this week. There are a bit more than usual, due to some interesting events, plus a series of photos of the cat house with fall foliage. Hopefully not too many!

Pumpkin surrounded:

Pumpkin surrounded

Poppy on the deck, another cat eating, and a third stretching:

Three cats

A new alien cat turned up; at first glance could be mistaken for one of our ferals, but the markings are different, no cropped ear, and looks a bit younger:

A new alien cat

A new alien cat

Three cats:

Three cats

Two cats by the front steps:

Two cats by the front steps

Enjoying the heating pad:

Enjoying the heating pad

Enjoying upstairs:

Enjoying upstairs

Pumpkin vs Paladout:

Pumpkin vs Paladout

The twins on the deck, and Porcini on the awning:

Three cats

Three cats

I was enjoying the fall foliage, so thought I’d take some photos of the cat house and its leafy environs:

The cat house and fall foliage

The cat house and fall foliage

The cat house and fall foliage

A couple shots using the new wide-angle lens in the iPhone 11 Pro Max:

The cat house and fall foliage

The cat house and fall foliage

You can see why I have a cover over the small pond! (I brushed away the leaves from the cover after taking this picture).

Back to the cats… four of them:

Four cats

Two cats on the bench by the field:

Two cats on the bench by the field

A cat walking from the bench to the stream for a drink:

Cat walking from the bench to the stream

Back to the bench:

Back to the bench

A cat on the bench by the fountain; I should put those cushions away for the winter, but they are enjoying them so:

Cat on bench by fountain

Poppy and Pumpkin inside:

Poppy and Pumpkin inside

Poppy and Pumpkin inside

Pumpkin in the feeder:

Pumpkin in the feeder

A screenshot of my iPad cam viewer app, showing Pumpkin on the deck, Poppy in the shelter, and one of the twins in the feeder:

Screenshot of Pumpkin and two others

Three cats:

Three cats

Three cats inside:

Three cats inside

Poppy and Pumpkin happily sharing the shelter again:

Poppy and Pumpkin inside

Poppy and Bill the Cat, I mean Pumpkin:

Poppy and Pumpkin inside

Poppy and Pumpkin inside

Bella peeking around the corner at Poppy on the deck (and another eating):

Three cats

Duck house: pond edge & floor joists

Over the weekend we installed the duck house! That seems like such a momentous milestone, I’m going to split it into two separate blog posts.

Firstly, I took the footing blocks and floor joists to the site, and determined the positions by temporarily resting the blocks on top:

Determining footing positions

I then dug out the bank of the pond a bit, repositioned the pond liner, and moved some of the rocks, to work better with the duck house:

Adjusting pond edge

Here’s a view from the pond cam of me wading in the pond, moving rocks. The pond is about 2 feet deep at that point, with a steep slope up to a small shelf at the edge:

Cam view

Here’s the adjusted pond edge:

Adjusted pond edge

I then dug in the concrete footings, using the level to make the floor joists flat:

Footings & floor joists

Here’s the footings & floor joists in their final position, with the footing holes filled in. There’s only about an inch of clearance between the joists and ground, as I wanted it to be as low as possible so the ramp into the pond doesn’t have to be any longer than necessary. The ramp will later be attached to the angled board at the front:

Footings & floor joists

A view from across the pond:

From across the pond

Next, I added scraps of wire hardware cloth to help keep small animals from going under the house. It won’t stop burrowing creatures like moles, but it’ll help:

Adding hardware cloth

The hardware cloth was stapled onto the inside of the boards, for tidiness, and buried a bit underground:

Hardware cloth

The final footings & floor joists:

Footings & floor joists

Next up: bringing over the house itself. Stay tuned!

Duck house: landscaping

Over the last week or so, in between paying work, I’ve been doing a different aspect of the duck house project: landscaping and earthmoving at the pond edge.

Here’s where the duck house will go, between these two rocks. So of course all these plants needed to be moved:

Plants

In order to make a path to the duck house, we also wanted to take out a very leaning and half-dead tree:

Leaning tree

So I used our chainsaw to chop it down and chop up the pieces:

Chainsaw

The tree removed, and starting to excavate around it:

Ex-tree

I moved the irises and such to next to the path location, as indicated by marker spray paint:

Moved plants

To get the wheelbarrow over the stream, I made a temporary bridge out of a pallet:

Temporary bridge

Later, I will make a nice arched bridge over the stream. Stay tuned for that project!

(The stream pump is usually turned off, since it loses a lot of water, but we turn it on occasionally.)

With the plants out of the way, I started excavating. I want the duck house to be as close as possible to the pond water level, so the duck ramp doesn’t have to be too long or steep. So there was a lot of dirt to dig out:

Excavating

More excavating. I did it all by hand; I could have hired someone to do it, either manually or with heavy equipment, but there’s a certain satisfaction to doing it myself, as silly as that is:

Excavating

Here’s a camera view of me digging:

Camera view

Getting close to the desired level. I marked the planned location of the duck house:

Excavating

Excavating the path:

Excavating

Those many barrowloads of dirt had to go somewhere. I put some in the chicken run grazing box, and some elsewhere, but the majority of it went onto the back lawn, to fill in the numerous holes and bumps, left from when the veggie garden used to be there, before a previous owner moved it. Once I’ve finished the excavations, I will add grass seed to the dirt:

Dirt on lawn

It’s me!

David

Contoured dirt for the path; we’ll wheel the duck house down this slope when moving it into place:

Contoured dirt

More of the path space; later I will add gravel to the path:

Contoured dirt

Looking down towards the pond:

Contoured dirt

The flat(ish) area next to the pond, with the duck house location marked:

Contoured dirt

Next up: installing the duck house!