ChickenGuard pop door opener demo

I recorded this video to show ChickenGuard’s customer support the issue I’m having with the opener on my new chicken coop (three years old, to be fair). It is having a door jam error when closing, requiring recalibration, but works once done, until nighttime when it is supposed to close.

I thought others might find it interesting too, to see how the coop pop door opener works, and the innovative way I have it mounted on a door so I can access it from inside the coop, and have the cord go straight down from the opener to the pop door.

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

Beehive temperature sensors

Yesterday we did our first inspection of the year of our two beehives. We weren’t sure about one of the hives, but both survived the winter. Now that the weather is getting warmer, and flowers are starting to bloom, the bees are active again, replenishing their stores, and the queens are busy laying brood to ramp up the populations.

While we were at it, we took the opportunity to install a couple of BroodMinder temperature sensors in each hive. These record the internal temperature, which can indicate the health and state of the hive. The sensors sync via Bluetooth to an app on Jenn’s iPhone.

Installing BroodMinder temperature sensor

Here’s the yellow hive with two sensor tags sticking out:


Jenn doing a quick inspection of the Flow hive:

Jenn inspecting hive

A beehive frame, showing some stored honey on the right, some capped brood in the middle, and good activity:

Beehive frame

Some bees around the entrance, including some with full pollen baskets:


New chicken & duck cams

A couple of days ago I set up four new cameras around the homestead.

Two were for the chickens. We have two coops, each with a run (that are separated by a fence, but with an open hole so the chickens can go between them, for now). The old coop had an old low-quality camera mounted in the ceiling, and the old run didn’t have a camera at all.

So I replaced the old coop camera with a new one, mounted on the wall for a better angle.  This camera has a wide field of vision, about 100°, so can see most of the coop:


Here it is in context on the wall behind the door. The coop is very cobwebby!

Camera in coop

This is me looking at the camera viewing app on my phone, to check the position during installation:

David and chickens in the coop

And here’s the view from the camera once the angle was tweaked:

Chickens in coop

Another example, with a bunch of chickens roosting:

Chickens in coop

As evening sets in, most of the chickens roost in the new coop, but a few roost in the old one:

Sleepy chickens

The chicken pop door automatically closes after dark:

Pop door closed

As mentioned, I also added a camera in the old run. Here you can see the old camera for the new run on the left, and the new camera for the old run on the right (confused?!):

Chicken run cams

Here’s an example of the view from this camera, showing the old coop:

Old run cam

A screenshot of the camera app, showing all four chicken cams.  I like how the two run cams line up to a panoramic view of both runs (with a little overlap):

Screenshot of cameras

I also set up two cameras to watch the (future) ducks. Here, I’m installing the outdoor camera to watch the pond. I have the camera running so I can check the position:

David by pond

Here’s the pond cam, mounted on the pond deck:

Pond cam

The view from the pond cam; it can see most of the pond:


Finally, I also set up an indoor cam for the duck house, though since I’m still building that, in the meantime I’ve placed it to watch Pepper’s bed in the front of the shop:

Cat in shop

(I’ll have a few more pictures from that cam in tomorrow’s Caturday post; stay tuned for that!)

Retrobatch to the rescue!

Inspired by a conversation on with @jack, here’s the Retrobatch document I use when manually setting the date metadata from the filename, and adding a watermark:

Retrobatch screenshot

(The details in the sidebar are out-of-order; look at the nodes in the circles for the order they are executed.)

I use a similar document when doing it automatically, with the input coming from a Folder Action in the Finder. I can just capture a still from a camera watching the feral cats, chickens, etc, and it is saved in a folder that has a Folder Action script to open in Retrobatch, the metadata date is set from the filename, the watermark added, and saved to another folder, that then has another Folder Action workflow to import into Photos.

Here’s the Folder Action script to open the images in Retrobatch, then trash the originals:


This is the Retrobatch document (again, the sidebar is out-of-order). It takes the input files from the folder (via the above script), sets the copyright notice in the IPTC metadata, sets the date metadata from the filename, adds the watermark text, and saves as a more efficient HEIC format (since the input is inefficient BMP images):

Convert to HEIC Retrobatch document

The processed images are saved to a new folder, which has it’s own Folder Action. Here’s the Folder Actions window in the Finder:

Folder Actions

The output Folder Action runs this workflow to import the images to Photos. It is supposed to also trash them, though that doesn’t work:



Before Retrobatch, all that was a tedious process of looking at each image and manually adjusting the date by reading the datestamp in the image, and manually importing. Now, I just click one button, and all the rest happens like magic. A huge time-saver!