Thursday, February 16, 2017


I love this time of year.  The feeling of Winter slowly thawing and the garlic and the shallots breaking their dormancy. That means that Spring is just around the corner.

Next Saturday, is February's Farm Day around here and that means we're  building some chicken brooders and grow out coops. We have 40 broiler chickens arriving in about 3 weeks. It will be the largest single chicken brooding we have ever done here. We are looking forward too it!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

It has been a long time...

WOW! It has been a while since I last updated.  A lot of projects were completed in 2016.
  • Grass in the front and portions of the backyard. The kids love it.
  • New chicken coop(still needs paint and some finishing touches)
  • Turkey pen/enclosed breeding pen.
  • Raised and slaughted some chicken broilers (qty 15).
  • Raised and slaughtered some turkeys (qty 8).
  • Leveled and planted seed in the future pasture.
My improvement goals for 2017 are as follows:
  • Raise a majority of of our own poultry meat that we consume.
  • Put fruit and nut trees in the orchard area.
  • Fence in the pasture area.
  • Use the pasture for supplement feeding for our poultry.
  • Redo the composting area.
  • Add grains to the garden area.
  • Finish painting the new chicken coop.
  • Design and build brooder/grow out/laying coops(qty 2).
  • Design and build a chicken tractor for use on the pasture.
I will do better on keeping this updated; hopefully, the updates will be on progress of the 2017 improvement projects.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Chicken Coop Sensor

Well, the soil sensors are taking a little bit of a back seat on this post.  What we did was use some of the guts of the soil sensor to help monitor temperature and humidity inside the chicken coop. The 3D printed enclosure is 3 pieces. The coop side round boss can be changed out to accommodate different wall coup thicknesses, i.e. longer for thicker wall, etc... Of course it is solar powered and I tried to keep the installation of it as simple as possible.

  • A Drill
  • 2" Hole Saw
  • A qty of 4, #6 X 3/4" wood screws

Figure 1:  Sensor and US quarter for scale

Figure 2: Another view

Figure 3: Coop side showing DHT22 sensor

Figure 4: Isometric coop side view

Installation was a breeze..... no running wires. Just use the hole saw to create the hole and screw in the 4 wood screws to attach the unit to the chicken coop.

Figure 5: Attached chicken coop sensor

Figure 6: Coop side 
It is now up on Thingspeak right now,
So, if you get bored take a look.

Improvements to make to the sensor.

  • A HTU21d to measure ambient temp and relative humidity OUTSIDE of the coop.
  • Enlarge clearence holes to a #6 woodscrew passes easier though it.
  • Dust cover to help partially enclose the DHT22 from dust, etc...
  • Add ammonia sensor

 I need to give a quick garden update. The peppers did great this year as well as the tomatoes. However, the watermelon did so-so this year. The garlic and the shallots will need to be planted soon. I can't wait; I love planting those.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mother Node PCB and the Garden

Well,  Mother Node Rev 0C(the gateway for all of the other nodes in the garden) is completed and functional. We are chasing a few bugs but they appear to be minor coding issues.  The picture below shows Rev 0B(breadboard with RTC) on the left and Rev 0C(PCB board) on the right. Next up is the case for the Mother Node.
Figure 1: Mother Node comparison

We are working on getting the Mother Node to talk to Thingspeak to post the gathered garden node data. See for more info about Thingspeak IoT open data platform. 

In the garden the randomized watermelon cultivar trial is going well.  3 varieties were planted:
  • Crimson Sweet
  • Moon & Stars
  • Navajo Winter
Through just simple limited observational data, the Navajo Winter is growing superior to both the Crimson Sweet and Moon & Stars.  The Navajo Winter emerges earlier and is more prolific. 
Figure 2: Navajo Winter
However, there are other factors that go into the overall evaluation. We'll see how the disease resistance and tastes is of the final product. I will do a final write up of the watermelon trial at the end of the season.

On the pepper front. Things are going great for Anaheim, Hungarian Hot Wax, Scottish Bonnet, C5 Purple Lilac, & California Wonder. However, things are not doing well for the Peach Habenero and Ghost Pepper. Those two peppers have minimal flowering and no viable peppers....... so far.  I am still trying to diagnose what is causing the lack of peppers with those cultivars
Figure 3: Anaheim pepper

Some random Anaheim, Hungarian Hot Wax and C5 peppers

The 50ft row of peas did wonderful this year. Over 40lbs of Sugar Snap peas were harvested and consumed. I am definitely going to plant multiple succession rows next year. I will change the trellis system from Jute twine to simple panel fencing next year. The jute twine simply took too long to setup and gave marginal results as a trellis(relaxed more than expected and higher maintenance).
Figure 5: Picking peas

The garlic went well. We had a input to output ratio of 1:6. Meaning for every 1lbf of garlic planted we got 6lbf at the end of harvest. Next, I need to grade(fancy talk for sizing) the garlic. I am wondering if the distribution of sizes will be Gaussian? We will see.

Figure 6: Duganski garlic dried and ready for grading

Well, that is it for now.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

SMD and Garlic

The SMD versiom is here and the components populated, see the picture below to show the evolution of the board. From left the 1st prototype with the 2nd generation in the middle with the 3rd and current generation on the far right.

In other news we harvested our 1st garlic, a softneck Susanville variety, from the field. 

I think I am going to let the other Susanville garlic stay in the field a bit longer. The Duganski, a hardneck variety is shooting up scapes and will be harvesting those those today to make some bacon wrapped garlic scapes. With the scapes up the Duganski garlic has about 1 month left until full harvest.

Well that is it for now. The PCBs for the Mother Node should be arriving any day.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Another Node and Garden Update....

I realized I had not posted anything about the OSH Park node boards. So, here are some older pics of the node boards being installed in the nodes.

The next revision of the board should be here tomorrow. It is approximately 25% smaller and using a SMD 328P instead of a DIP version.

The garden is going good and we are enjoying fresh lettuce on a daily basis. It is amazing how well a nice bowl of fresh lettuce tastes with a little turkey,cheese, and some dressing.Here are some random pics from the garden.

Tomatoes and peppers going in.

Overall view

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Update Part 2 - Indoor Lab

In addition to the outdoor planting we have a few things going on in the indoor lab.... growing tomato starts, pepper starts, water melon starts, and...... chickens.
Grow rack for the tomato and pepper starts.
I started the tomatoes(Celebrity, Comstock Slice and Serve, Amish Paste, and Sweet 100's) and peppers(Anahiem, Jalapeno, Scottish Bonnet, Chinese 5 Color, Ghost Pepper, Hungarian Hot Wax, Habanero, Lilac Bell, and California Wonder)  starts back in the last week on March and they are growing good.  We have added a small greenhouse that we transfer the starts to when they are done with the grow rack. A couple of days ago I just started the watermelons(Crimson Sweet. Moon and Starts, Navajo Winter Melon, and Blacktail Mountain)

We got 10 chickens and they are around 4 and half weeks old. They grow up fast. Listed below is the breeds and names(the ones that have names at least). If anybody has any suggestions for names for the other chickens, I am all ears.
  • 1 x Barred Rock(Amelia)
  • 2 x Red Sex Links
  • 1 x Copper Maran(Skittles)
  • 2 x Easter Eggers(Bunny, Twila Juna-Fire)
  • 2 x California Whites(Minnie, Melanie)
  • 2 x Australorp

1 Week

3 Weeks
4 and half weeks
Needless to say a chicken coop in in order and I will be working on that here very shortly. The coop that I am designing is more of a chicken "sled". It is a cross between a chicken tractor and a more permanent structure. After a lot of thought about the design, I wanted something that conveyed a aura of permanence yet allowed it the coop to be moved during the season as I see fit. I.E. the spring, summer, and fall it could be placed in the pasture and in the winter it could be brought up near the house to allow me to run electricity for coop heat and to keep the water from freezing, etc....  The coop should be started here in the next couple of days and I will post updates as it progresses.