Aerial photos in June

It’s been a while since I flew my drone over our homestead. I felt an urge to do so today, so did, and took a few pictures. I thought I’d share some.

Let start with a top-down view of our flowerbeds, pond, back lawn, veggie garden, and driveway:

Flowerbeds, pond, veggie garden, etc

An angled view of the flowerbeds etc from lower down:

Flowerbeds, pond, back lawn, etc

Flowerbeds, back lawn, pond:

Flowerbeds, back lawn, pond

Flowerbeds:

Flowerbeds

Back lawn and pond:

Back lawn, pond

The two chicken runs, the veggie garden, and greenhouse:

Chicken runs, veggie garden, greenhouse

A closer look at the veggie garden:

Veggie garden

And the berry cage:

Berry cage

Finally, a glimpse of Mount Hood:

Mount Hood

Berry cage bird netting

Yesterday I added some bird netting to the veggie garden berry cage fences.

When I built the berry cage, I used a fairly narrow gauge welded wire for the fencing, to keep birds out, without excluding bees, but it turned out that some birds could still squeeze through.

So, I added an additional layer of lightweight bird netting to prevent that.  The roof doesn’t have the bird netting, on the theory that they won’t be able to go in that way as easily as horizontal access. Time will tell if I’m wrong about that too!

Berry cage

Berry cage netting

Berry cage

Berry cage netting

Potato planters prep and irrigation

Yesterday we started the potato planters. I added some scoria and dirt to the planter frames, Jenn planted the seed potatoes, and I added new irrigation for them.

Here is a base of scoria (for drainage) and a wheelbarrow load of very damp dirt (3-way mix):

Scoria and dirt

Previously we had a soaker hose for the potato planters, but that didn’t do a very good job of delivering water to the plants (and not all around them). So I added better irrigation, starting with a convoluted pipe off the tap of the nearby bed:

Irrigation piping

The underground pipe to that tap actually goes right by the potato planters, complete with an expansion point, so one day I might add a separate tap for the potato planters, instead of splitting off this bed. But I decided to take this approach for now.

Since I mentioned that, a minor digression: here’s an old picture from 2014 showing that portion of the veggie garden pipes; the potato planters are just beyond my toolbox:

Veggie garden pipes

Another old picture, showing the aforementioned pipe expansion points:

Pipe expansion point

One day I should do a post with plumbing projects like this one from before I started this blog.

Anyway, back to present day.

The irrigation pipe goes behind the potato planters, with emitter leads for each planter, so they can be moved as more dirt is added:

Potato planters with irrigation

I used a new kind of emitter that has a wider coverage than the sprinkler kind I’ve previously used, so one emitter gives even coverage of the whole thing:

Potato planter with irrigation

Hey why not… here’s a GIF edition of that picture, showing it working:

GIF of irrigation emitter

Here’s a wider view of the planters and piping:

Potato planters with irrigation

As the potatoes grow upwards, we’ll add more dirt and retaining boards, resulting in several layers of spuds.

Planting veggie garden and adding irrigation

Yesterday we did our traditional Mother’s Day activity of preparing and planting the veggie garden. I also added some improved irrigation.

Over the winter, the chickens get to enjoy going in the veggie garden, providing a helpful service of clearing out the plants and keeping it weed-free. So the first thing was to close the gate and hole in the fence from the chicken runs, so they no longer have access, which always confuses and frustrates them for a little while.

That done, Jenn brought the veggie plants out of the greenhouse, while I used a mattock to break up the compacted soil:

Breaking up compacted soil

I also added some fresh soil. Here’s a prepared bed:

Prepared bed

While Jenn planted the veggies, I added improved irrigation on a couple of the beds:

Irrigation

We had previously used soaker hoses, which don’t really provide the water in the best spots, and tend to fail regularly. This irrigation tubing and emitters should work better:

Irrigation

Here’s a view of the whole garden from the west gate:

Whole garden

We rotate the crops each year. This time, the southwest (SW) bed contains roma and cherry tomatoes:

Tomatoes

The NW bed is still using a soaker hose for now, though I’ve bought some irrigation emitters for it and other beds yet to be converted. It contains a single pumpkin plant (since one is enough to take over half the garden), plus lettuce, kale, and a couple of corn sprouted from seeds:

Pumpkin, lettuce, etc

The NE bed contains corn (a different variety) and onion:

Corn, onion

SE: tomatillos, jalapeños, and zucchini; the second bed with the new irrigation:

Irrigation

One of the reasons for the berry cage is to keep the chickens out, along with wild birds, so the plants don’t get eaten each winter. The SW bed contains everbearing strawberries:

Strawberries

The NW berry cage bed has Hood strawberries:

Strawberries

The SE bed has gooseberries, red currants, and huckleberries:

Gooseberries, red currants, huckleberries

The NE bed has blueberries:

Blueberries

And the north bed has hops:

Hops

This morning I briefly flew my drone for an aerial view of the veggie garden and berry cage:

Aerial view of veggie garden

A closer view of veggie garden side:

Aerial view of veggie garden

And part of the berry cage side:

Aerial view of veggie garden

An angled view of both (and part of the chicken runs):

Aerial view of veggie garden

Aerial pictures of the gardens, pond, greenhouse, mountain

It has been nice and sunny this week, so I did a little drone flying, and captured some more aerial photos.

Here’s our fountain garden area, with the bird feeders on the left, cat house under the tree at the top-left, various paths, and the defunct fountain (likely to become a planter soonish):

Fountain garden

A couple angles of the pond (with the ducks visible):

Pond

Pond

A bunch of new plants in one of our flowerbeds:

New flowerbed plants

A shot from 400 feet (the legal height limit for drones) of the flowerbeds, pond, veggie garden, hoop house, shop, etc:

Flowerbeds, pond, etc

The berry cage, veggie garden, and chicken runs:

Veggie garden

The greenhouse and environs:

Greenhouse

Closer to the greenhouse, showing the bee water pool and recent excavations for greenhouse plumbing:

Greenhouse

Looking more horizontally, some distant hills:

Distant hills

Trees and hills

Mount Hood is visible:

Mount Hood

Zoomed:

Mount Hood

Zoomed more:

Mount Hood

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.)