Tuesday, August 19, 2008

fancy! electric!

We can do it! We have the technology! This weekend I bought 100ft of outdoor extension chords and a christmas light timer. Because of those two items (and a handy clamp light) I was able to rig up a automatic lighting system in the coop. Now, every evening at dusk the coop's light automatically turns on, and then shuts off at 9:30pm. This guarantees a full 14 hours of light for the hens, who were starting to slack on laying as the days were growing shorter. As nights grow chillier (we're already dropping into the 40's some nights!) I'll start adding winter prep. A full storm flap over the coop and some insulation too. These birds will have a heat lamped, toasty winter. Well, at least the ones that won't be dinner guests.

6 Comments:

OpenID Christa said...

We found that a little reptile heat lamp that was hooked up to a thermostat and came on when it dropped below 20 deg. worked great... our hens layed all winter!

August 19, 2008 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger Chicken Mama said...

Hiya!

I happened upon your blog from a link on a childhood friend's blog (know anybody in Chicago - that's where they are). So, anyway, that's the short story of how I, a very tippy-top of northeastern Minnesotan, am writing you, a dyed-in-the-wool Vermonter!

Just a tip / suggestion / my-two-cents / take it for what it is . . . about "lighting" the birds. I set my automatic timer (yes, yayy for extension cords!) to turn on in the wee hours of the morn. Then, they get their 14 hours from the early morning until natural dusk. Why this way? Well, I've learned (yep, the hard way) that poultry tends to panic when they are suddenly plunged into utter darkness. Then, mayhem ensues . . . there is much frantic wing-flapping, cackling, and, unfortunately, a broken neck or two from the aforementioned panic.

I've also learned that ducklings can't, automatically, swim (well, technically, "stay afloat" after their feathers get wet). A story for another day. (But, hey, if I can share my learned-the-hard-way education with anyone else, bring it on!)

:) Chicken Mama

August 19, 2008 at 10:50 PM  
Blogger Renee said...

we have the same thing setup for my husband's quail.

August 20, 2008 at 8:18 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

chicken mama -yeah, i agree mornings would be better. But the thing is, I'm asleep at 3 AM when the light would turn on, and it would shut off by 5:30 at dawn. So if it wasn't working, I would never know because it would have turned off 'automatically' by the time I got outside for morning feeding. At least now I am sure they are getting a full 14 hours of light

August 20, 2008 at 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Jeannie said...

I'm just starting to blog and came across yours quite by accident. I love reading and gardening and raising my 3 little hens. I love the idea on the timer for light in the coop. I think I'll try to do what chicken mama did and put it to come on in the morning.

Until I moved to this property and inheirited the 3 little hens I never knew what fun having chickens could be.

August 20, 2008 at 2:57 PM  
Anonymous Judy said...

Just found your blog through Mother Earth News, and I love it! You and I would be pals, I am sure...much in common, especially the love of dogs, rural life, and subsistence living. Keep it up!
Until last month, I lived in southcentral Alaska (coastal Oregon now), and also kept my 15 chickens in relative luxury, with foot-deep wood shavings and round-the-clock heat lamp service. It seemed like the infrared bulb provided enough light (they kept up the laying) as well as the heat, and I left it on all the time from about mid-October until around May 1. It is refreshing to hear about your dedication to their comfort and well-being, as it is all too common for these things to be neglected in "livestock."
Again, keep up the good work, and I'll be bookmarking your site.

August 20, 2008 at 6:11 PM  

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