Weather station

As part of the greenhouse project, we wanted to add moisture sensors to seedling trays, to know when we need to tweak their watering.

To enable that, we got an Ecowitt weather station that supports optional moisture sensors. The weather station will also be useful for hyper-local weather information, since weather conditions for nearby towns aren’t necessarily representative of what it’s like here, being on the top of a hill.

Here are the wind and rain sensors, mounted on top of the berry cage. They ideally should be higher for the most accurate readings, but that’d make changing their batteries much harder:

Wind and rain sensors

A closer look at the anemometer, with sensors for wind speed, wind direction, light level, and UV:

Wind sensors

The rain gauge sensor:

Rain sensor

Outdoor temperature and humidity sensor, hanging in the shade of the greenhouse:

Outdoor temperature and humidity sensor

Indoor temperature and humidity sensors and Wi-Fi gateway, next to the Eero Beacon Wi-Fi router in the greenhouse:

Indoor sensors and Wi-Fi

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!

Flock Friday for December 13

Some excitement with the chickens this week.

One of the chickens, Lola, was still outside when the pop door was closing:

Chicken outside when the door is closing

You may remember me describing her as the introverted chicken. She often hangs back, and on this occasion hung back too long, and got stuck outside.

I noticed her perching on the waterer when I checked the cams after I got in bed, so I got dressed again, put on a head-mounted light, and went out there to take her inside:

Lola on the waterer

Here’s me picking her up. I carried her out of the run and into the coop:

David picking up Lola

Another bit of excitement was that I opened the gate to the veggie garden, enabling the new girls to access that:

Opened gate to veggie garden

I also opened the hole in the fence between the two runs, so the old and new chickens can now mingle:

Opened fence hole

They are still laying eggs and roosting for the night in their own coops, though eventually I expect some will swap coops. Chickens are very slow to change.

A bunch of pictures of the chickens all together:

Chicken

Chickens by gate

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Let’s take a look at the ducks, too:

Ducks

Ducks

Ducks

Ducks

Ducks

But we’re not done with the chickens: a few days later, Lola did it again, outside when the door was closing:

Chickens outside when the door is closing

Actually it turned out that there were three chickens outside this time:

Chickens outside

Chickens outside

I realized that the pop door controller was closing the door too early, before it was dark, due to low hanging branches of the tree by the coop shading the light sensor. So I trimmed some branches:

David trimming branches

The tree fought back, whacking me in the face; fortunately only lightly bruising me:

David

As usual, I left the cut branches in the run for the chickens to play with:

Cut branches

So far the chickens haven’t been caught outside again.  I have a daily reminder to check as it gets dark, just in case.

Misty pond, with the ducks heading into the house for dinner:

Misty pond

Finally, some shots of the hungry hummingbirds on the feeders:

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds

Flock Friday for November 8

It was an exciting week for the older chickens: once Jenn removed the potatoes and onions from the veggie garden, I was able to let the chickens in to help us clear out the remaining plants.

The newer chickens don’t get to participate yet, as I’m waiting for them all to start laying (so far only one is). But they have a large run for the four of them, and get daily treat deliveries, so I don’t feel too bad.

Here’s me opening the hole in fence:

David opening hole in fence

Here’s the hole, and chickens heading into the veggie garden:

Chickens heading into veggie garden

Chickens heading into veggie garden

Molting Merida — she is looking rather scruffy at present, as are several others. But don’t worry, it’s a normal part of their yearly cycle, discarding old feathers and growing new ones. The worst part is they stop laying while going through that; we’re only getting zero or one egg per day from all of the old chickens at present:

Molting Merida

Looking from the veggie garden back to the chicken run, and chickens heading into the garden:

Chickens heading into veggie garden

The chickens headed straight for the salad bar:

Chickens at the salad bar

Chickens at the salad bar

Chickens at the salad bar

A wide angle view of the veggie garden:

Wide angle of veggie garden

An empty chicken run; everyone’s in the veggie garden:

Empty chicken run

Every day when I do my morning rounds, the chickens come to the corner of the veggie garden to greet me:

Chickens coming to see me on morning rounds

Let’s take a look at the ducks:

Ducks

Gert shaking her head:

Ducks

The ducks again:

Ducks

On the bank by the duck house:

Ducks

I mentioned in my previous post that I waded in the pond to clean and start the fountain pump. Here are a few more pictures of the ducks from inside the pond:

Ducks

Ducks

Duck butts!

Ducks

Ducks

This picture was in that previous post, but I thought I’d include it here too:

Duck house

This morning, a heron landed on the duck house:

Heron landing on duck house

(I happened to be looking at that camera at the time, and headed out to the pond to get a better picture, but it saw me coming and flew off.)

Planting veggie garden

Jenn and I spent most of today planting the veggie garden.

We got 3 yards (i.e. 81 cubic feet, or 2.3 cubic meters) of 3-way mix soil (basically topsoil, compost, and other stuff) delivered to top up the veggie beds. Here’s Rory sniffing the pile while on rounds a few days ago, to give a feel for the size:

Rory by pile of soil

So my first task was to shovel that dirt into the beds:

Shoveling dirt

Dumping the dirt:

Dumping dirt

Meanwhile, Jenn was planting:

Cart and plants

Here’s the whole veggie garden, with everything planted:

Whole veggie garden

In the front-left bed, we have tomatoes and salsa ingredients:

Veggie bed

In the front-right bed, we have lettuce and kale (for us and chickens):

Veggie bed

The potato planters have seed potatoes; the boards and more dirt will be added as they grow up, resulting in many layers of spuds:

Potato planters

In the back-left bed we have zucchini, pumpkins, watermelons, and decorative gourds:

Veggie bed

In the back-right bed, we have onions and corn:

Veggie bed

Inside the berry cage, we have a couple of Hood strawberry plants (and will add more to this bed later):

Veggie bed

(Existing) blueberries:

Veggie bed

The first of a few hops plants:

Veggie bed

Huckleberries hiding behind the existing gooseberries and currants:

Veggie bed

Ever-bearing strawberries (these were existing from last year):

Veggie bed

Yet more snow

We got a couple more inches of snow this morning.

Beehives and trees with snow:

Beehives with snow

Berry cage with snow:

Berry cage with snow

The shallow (foreground) end of the pond is frozen, but the deep (back) half is liquid:

Half frozen pond

The back lawn covered with snow, with the brown gazebo in the distance, and the old chicken coop on the right:

Gazebo & coop with snow

The flag is snagged on a branch, with a little snow on it:

Flag with snow

Chickens in the snow

The snow is melting, helped by the rain. It was fun while it lasted, but I’m ready for it to go.

Our chickens would prefer no snow too; they don’t like walking in it.

Here are a bunch of photos of the chickens in the snow, from yesterday and today:

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Chickens in snow

Berry cage: finished!

This post has been waiting for a few days to be published, since the blog has been busy with snow photos this week. Hence the lack of snow in these pictures. With the snow on the ground this week, it’s almost hard to remember what the place was like without snow!

I have now completed the berry cage project.

The last step was to replace the old fencing wire with the new, narrower gauge stuff.

So I started by removing the old wire:

Fence wire

I left the nails that were holding the old wire, so I could reuse them to attach the new wire:

Fence without wire

Here’s the berry cage portion of the fence without any wire:

Fence without wire

I could then add the bottom course of new welded wire. I also kept the second layer chicken wire at the bottom, which is to keep smaller animals like rabbits out of the garden:

Adding wire

Attaching the wire:

Adding wire

The bottom course completed. The wire curves out onto the ground, anchored by rocks, to avoid any gap at the bottom:

Adding wire

A close-up of the wire and nails after adding the second course:

Closeup

The door area, with the completed fence:

Door

The completed berry cage fence:

Finished berry cage

It is always very satisfying to complete a project. On to the next one!