Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lights! Camera!

"Are you getting my good side?  Because if you are NOT getting my good side, I am SO NOT DOING THIS!!"

After a year of pondering, I recently bought a very low-end wireless camera to install as an experimental "barn cam" during kidding season.  If it works as hoped for, this gadget will communicate directly with my laptop and reduce the number of times I need to disturb the does before and during labor.

One doe in particular.  That one, up there.  I love her, and she puts the heart across me with her scary birthing behavior, which makes it impossible for me to really ignore her, but I always wonder if ignoring her would reduce the scary birthing behavior, but since it is SO scary, I can't ignore her, and around we go.

After the "excitement" of last year's kidding, I began dreaming of a way to monitor without disturbing, and discovered (again) that I am way, way behind the times.  Lots of people are doing fairly inexpensive online monitoring of their wildlife, their horses, their babies.  Well, move over, because here comes...

Goat Cam!

Maybe.  If it works.  We'll see.

"Can't wait.  Call me when you're ready for my close-up.  I shall be in my chalet.  It is the one with the big STAR on the door."

Since it is very sunny today (sure, I've had to knock the ice out of the water buckets three times, but it is sunny, which feels very pleasant indeed!), I decided to experiment with my little camera.

It needs to be plugged in, and I'm not sure how far it can be from my router, so I put it just outside the back door where I could step in and out and adjust things easily instead of running back and forth to the barn a dozen times.  Not that the barn is far from the house; it's not.  But every time I take even one step toward the barn, the goats think Room Service is arriving, and they all start hollering encouragement.

It gets old.

For all of us.

So, camera by the back door!

Shortly after I set it up, the camera emailed me pictures of these suspicious-looking characters:

And oh-oh!  This must be the ringleader:

Funniest email I've received today  :)


Before I can put the camera in the goat barn, I have to cobble together some kind of simple housing for it, to keep it from being destroyed by the ever-present dust from hay and grain.  And goats.  And chickens, come to that; they love to scratch through the bedding in the barn and find every last seed.  They do an excellent job, but the dust is unbelievable.

The housing must also have clear glass in front of the camera.  As you can see, the image quality is Not Great, and that's in lovely, delightful sunlight!  Inside the barn at night the camera will go to infrared, and images will look murky at best.  I could build something nice, but keeping expenses down is key.  Maybe I can find a little thrift-shop aquarium, turn it upside down, and pad around the bottom leaving room for the power cord...that might work.

Meanwhile, at least for today, it's...Chicken Cam!


"Oh, is that so?  Fine.  I'm calling my agent."