We received an incubator for Christmas this year! It came a little early which was really nice. We found a local farmer that had fertile eggs for sale at a great price. The timing was perfect to have little chicks hatching on Christmas day. Some of the eggs were a day or 2 older than others when we purchased them so we’ve got a few chicks left to hatch. This video shows the first 4 chicks. We have 8 total now and 2-3 more should hatch. Hopefully, there will be 2 or 3 roosters. We would like to have more fertile eggs to make sure we can raise enough chickens to feed a dog and a kiddo.

(Strangely, this video is slightly chopped at the bottom. It appears fine on my youtube page but not when viewed by other users. I will look into getting it corrected. If the video is not attached to the emails, you can see it here.)

Yes, it’s a green greenhouse. The bell pepper green paint is really bright but looking great. The vent window frames are going on and then the paneling to finish it out.

Super Green

Greenhouse Specifications:

  • 8′ x 8′ x 8′ (peak of roof)
  • Wood structure, paint for sealant
  • Polycarbonate “Tufftex” panels with 90% light transmission
  • Decomposed granite floor (high silicon dioxide, to work as a thermal sink)
  • Passive radiant floor heating using solar collector (PEX tubing with 3/4″ foam-core, aluminum reflective barrier)
  • GWDeveloper Urban Greenhouse Controller
GWDeveloper Urban Greenhouse Controller on Renesas RX62N

Urban Greenhouse Controller

  • Plug-and-play operation using regional ET data
  • Configurable Sensor Array
    • Humidity
    • Temperature
    • Barometric pressure
    • Wind direction & speed
    • Daylight collected
    • pH & EC
    • Vent and door positions
    • Water flow rate
  • Hardware Control
    • Vents
    • Exhaust Fans
    • Misters
    • Irrigation
    • Aquaponics
  • User Input
    • Touchscreen display in greenhouse
    • Web accesible controls via wireless access point

My electronic specifications may be slightly changed due to the cost of sensors and linear servos. Most sensors will operate on the I2C bus while a few will have simple ADCs.  I will probably find a different method of opening and closing the vents as well.

Unfortunately, I had been putting too much food in one of the tanks. That combined with the venturi uptake clogging, caused a few fish to die. The best thing I could do was buy a large stock tank and move the fish to clean everything. One of the grow beds has cracked as well. We’re making some major changes this week but they’ll allow for better filtering and more growing space.

100 Gallon Stock Tank with autofill valve and a temporary circulation pump.

The new filter is based on “Jim’s Crazy Bio Filter”. It will allow for easy emptying of fish waste to be dumped in the compost pile or other garden spaces.  The missing piece will be a homemade venturi to aerate the dirty water being pumped to the bottom. I combined cornstarch and silicone to make a sort of rubber concrete and filled a 3/4″ piece of pvc. It’s nearly set and I will use 2 different step drill bits to make create the venturi effect. I will also be adding a skimmer to remove protein waste and further oxygenate the water.

We really didn’t have enough growing and filtration space available to support this many fish and make up for small mistakes. Tilapia grow fast and poop a lot.

The new bio-filter setup near completion.

The chicken pen finally has a proper roof. The old roof was made of recycled, corrugated plastic sheets. They only lasted about a year before dry-rotting and causing a huge mess. The new roof is galvanized steel and should be good for a long time. I doubt the chickens will miss their skylights, especially after a hail storm.

It’s going to be noisy in the hail storms.

The greenhouse walls are ready to go. Roof trusses are nearly all assembled. They will be painted before installing. Once those are up, the polycarbonate panels are going in place. The floor was built with a insulated, reflective surface under the decomposed granite. There is about 70′ of coiled pex tubing in the floor for a radiant heating system. Once the roof is installed, the collector coil will be mounted to get the most sun.

It’s really green… “Bell Pepper Green”

Here’s a small video of our chickens with the re-framed, new-to-us nesting boxes. 3 hens have pretty much stopped laying so we’re looking for new homes for them. In January we plan to add another 10 hens to our flock.

The aquaponics are still doing well too. Had a small problem in one of the beds with aphids attacking the arugula. We pulled all of it for chicken food and restarted seeds. The basil and beans have been growing fine without any pest issues. We just got in a new high power water pump and it’s going to allow us to add a few more beds with more bio-filtration area.

Lettuces, Basil, Beans and Baby Arugula

With a few parts from the nice people at http://www.avianaquamiser.com and some modifications we now have an auto filling bucket waterer to keep our hens happy. It was about $60 in parts and only a few minutes of labor to assemble. It’s a short and simple parts list:

  • 5 gallon Bucket with Lid
  • Avian Aqua Miser 3 pack kit
  • Toilet Fill Valve Assembly
  • 7/8″ to 1/2″ Toilet Supply line
  • 1/2″ brass nipple
  • 1/2″ to 3/4″ hose swivel adapter
  • teflon tape and silicone glue
Make sure to snip the edges of the lid, at the perimeter markers. You’ll want it to be an easy off lid and you don’t want an airtight seal. If it sealed airtight, the pressure would block the flow of water from the fill valve.
Drill a 1″ hole in the bottom of the bucket for the toilet fill valve. Use the rubber grommet and plastic nut to seal and hold the valve in place. The supply line, nipple and swivel adapter will need teflon tape at all the brass on brass junctions. Drill holes for the Avian Aqua Miser watering nipples, thread them in and seal lightly with silicone glue. Once the silicone has cured, hang your new auto filling bucket waterer in your hutch and attach a garden hose. Adjust the height of the water level with the fill valve. We’re going to keep the level around 2-3 gallons so it’s always super fresh.

These projects save us time and allows that to be directed into more and better gardening.We love our funny farm.

Well, the farm is going to be growing (haha) quite a bit. I approached the church behind our house about using some of their empty flower beds and empty lot to grow vegetables in. The beds have been grassed over for years, the empty lot is just that, empty. This morning, they had a vote and decided to allow us to till and plant the flower beds to show them what we can do. The Round Rock Funny Farm is adding 400+sqft to it’s growing space! I’ve got to get it tilled, fed and mulched pretty quickly so it will be ready for a fall garden. The idea behind the potential use of the larger lot (4400+sqft!) would be to plant native plants and flowers as well as have a vegetable garden and donate 25% of the produce to the church members or a food bank of their choice.
Here’s a snapshot of the plan I’ve laid out for the initial fall garden. (I’ll tell everyone more about  the “Tenth Acre Farms” part another time)

I’ve also put together the layout for most of our backyard. It’s crazy just how much we have going on back here. The front yard is growing a lot of tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, corn, squash and eggplants. Eventually, we’ll also have artichokes, olive trees and more fruit trees.