Archive | February, 2016

Water Filler

29 Feb


Why did it take me 3 years to think of this?


It’s not like it’s a terribly complex device, especially when you consider that I soldered up something fairly similar for a sprinkler last year.

But hey, I thought of it now, and here it is.


No more hoses slipping out of the top of the barrel and spraying water all over the place.  Just hook it over the lip of the barrel, turn on the water and forget about it until it’s all full.

Farmhouse Chandelier

25 Feb


Every winter we get hit with a stretch of really cold weather in which I look for a project that will keep me indoors.  One of my little projects this year was to make up a new light for our dining room to replace the 1970’s monstrosity that was there when we moved in.

I’ve had an idea for a new light that I’ve been batting around for a while now, but I was waiting until I found the perfect lightbulb.  And then I found it.


An Edison-style LED bulb.  All the style (well, at least 95% of the style) of the old-school Edison-style bulbs, without all the energy-wasting incandescent filament.  It seems like every restaurant you go into these days is just filthy with the vintage Edison-style lightbulbs, and for good reason.  They look really cool.


So with a few cool lightbulbs in hand, I grabbed the old yoke I found in the barn and got busy.  The yoke needed a good pressure-washing and oiling, but after that it all went together pretty easy.

It looked pretty good, but it was still missing something. The light was pretty harsh and the whole thing looked a bit spindly and insubstantial.


Fortunately, I had just discovered the cheap and easy light shade. After installing a LED compatible dimmer switch it’s all done.
Much to my annoyance the LED bulb + LED dimmer combo still buzzes audibly. Apparently this is an industry-wide problem and I’ve got to live with a little buzzing until somebody figures it all out.

Community Nest Boxes

18 Feb


So the sharp-eyed among you may have noticed some new nest boxes gracing the walls of our chicken coop this winter.  After trying some larger community nest boxes in the Winebeggo this year we’ve decided that we like the community boxes are far more than the individual nest boxes.

They’re easier to build, it takes less lumber to build them and they accommodate more hens.



Building them is pretty straight forward, just make a series of boxes to the appropriate dimensions.  In our case we’re using boxes that are 48″ wide, 18″ tall and 16″ deep.  I get about one bank of 4 boxes out of 2.5 sheets of OSB and about three 8′ 2×4’s.  One bank should be good for about 200 hens.  (200 may be pushing it, but it’s workable)



Most of the front of the box (48″x12″) folds down for egg collection. It’s best to double down on the magnetic latches to keep the doors shut, doors flapping open unbidden are annoying at best.

The entry/exit hole for the hens is 8″x8″ and covered with a flap of dark fabric.  This helps keep the nests nice and dark, which reduces egg-eating.  There’s room in the bottom of the nestbox for a good 6″ of bedding to cushion the eggs.


We tried running the boxes all together (in each bank) making two 8′ long nests, but the hens are much happier, and fewer eggs are broken, when the nests are divided up into 4′ lengths.  It seems that most hens want a corner nest, so the 4′ nest seems to keep most of them happy.

These commercially made rollaway community boxes have definitely caught our eye.  Maybe someday.

For the Birds

9 Feb


I’m a bit of a bird feeding enthusiast, I’ll admit.  At last count I had about a half-dozen birdfeeders around the house.

Now we’re up to seven, and the latest has a bit of an ulterior motive to it.

You see, I’ve recently noticed a few crows hanging out around.  They mostly steer clear of our farm, hanging out in the trees on our neighbors property to the East and North.  The thought of luring them in had crossed my mind, but was never acted upon until I stumbled across a few accounts of people using crows to chase off birds of prey.


I’ve seen red-winged blackbirds chase off red-tailed hawks countless times, but the hawks are only a big problem for us after the blackbirds have left for the season.  Crows live here year-round, and they’ll work for peanuts.  Literally. So it was off to the scrap lumber pile to build a platform feeder.  Nothing fancy, just a 12″ x 12″ platform to stick in the top of a drill-pipe fence post.


I filled it with peanuts and a few pork neckbones and waited.

The wait wasn’t long.  The crows found it within 24 hours and have been back every day.


The chickens ought to be thrilled, they’ll be protected from the air and the ground this year.