Sunday, November 21, 2010

Creative Problem Solving

As a technologist and an IT engineer at heart, I have developed a real passion for solving problems and figuring out ways to make things efficient.  Farm projects provide a lot of opportunity for this and are a great hobby for keeping these skills sharp.

So here's problem number one.  The builder of our house put the pressure tank for the well and the associated plumbing in a small shed, which we call the pump house.  I think the reason for this was to reduce the Summer humidity in the house by keeping the condensation buildup on the tank in a separate building.

Pump House
Unfortunately, this also means another space that needs to be heated in the winter, which we've done with space heaters and electric pipe warmers, an expensive and risky approach.  Last year I tried just going with the pipe warmers and in the middle of preparing Christmas Eve dinner we had a sudden drop in water pressure.  After some inside troubleshooting I trudged through two feet of snow to find the pump house flooded and water spraying everywhere from a burst pipe because of a failed warmer.  Some quick pipe sweating and dinner was back on track, but the moist warm environment ended up becoming a neon sign for Norway Rats, who proceeded to tear apart the fiberglass insulation throughout the shed.

Problem number two is that we've been pretty lax with our layer chickens and they've gone pretty much rogue.  They've scattered themselves around the property and have taken to sleeping in the trees.  They have also found alternative spots for laying eggs and I haven't been able to track them down, except for stumbling on an occasional nest, which we won't use.  At some point I'll take on capturing the birds and confining them to the portable coop to "train" them to lay in the box, but sometimes it's as easy to start with some fresh chicks.

A while back I found a clutch of eggs in the woods and threw these and a few others in the incubator.  When they hatched, the pump house got cleaned out and the brooder relocated inside.

Blue Pressure Tank & Brooder
The heat lamp needs to be on for the chicks, why not have it do double duty and eliminate the need for the other heaters in the pump house?  So far it's working great and we'll have a fresh batch of layers producing in the Spring.  I wish I had thought of this last year.

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