Best non-freezing Solar chicken waterer – Update

I’ve tried frequent waterer swapping, the lightbulb waterer, and a solar tire, but this solar waterer is the best design yet for my needs.  In part 1 I talked about the concept and design, this post actually included my 2nd update about using plastic to shield the insulation from pecking.  So this is my 3rd and possibly the last, update on this water.

When I put the waterer out this year, I was pleased to see the older chickens remembered what it was and taught the new ones; thus, bypassing needing to do any training.

 

Forgot before picture so I laid the pieces I cut back into place.

However, I underestimated the destructive power of chickens and they had pecked all the insulation off of the lid directly over where they stick their head in.  This suprised me.  Basically the chickens are sticking their head in a hole roughly the size of an elongated baseball.   Then looking up and pecking the top in the small cavity I left open.

 

So to fix it, I cut a new piece of insulation, then cut the lid to match it as best I could.  Of course duct tape was used to cover the seams for additional measure.

 

Then I cut a new piece of corrugated plastic from my ‘For Sale’ sign I’ve been using and placed it on top of the cavity where the chicken put their head into.   I had to trim some of the side insulation pieces to recess the plastic so the lid would sit properly.

 

The chickens have also been pecking the top of the insulation every time we lift the lid to add water and big sections in the corner are now gone.  Amazing what a few pecks a day over a couple months adds up to.  So I fixed the corners.  Then for good measure, I covered the top of all the insulation with duct tape to help prevent further pecking.

Head hole before applying new tape

Also, the duct tape around the entry hole keeps coming loose on the outside.  I’ve fixed it multiple times, but it just doesn’t stick for long.  The main purpose of this tape is to prevent the chickens from pecking the insulation on the inside of the tub, so I removed the inside insulation, as one big conglomeration, since it’s all taped together but not taped to the sides or bottom.  Then I put the tape on just the insulation, where it seems to stick the best.

Finally, when I pulled the inside insulation “cluster/conglomeration” out, it was a perfect opportunity to use come caulking to seal in the Twinwall Polycarbonat.  I previously used tape, but it was coming lose and given how well the waterer is working, I figured it was time to do something a little more permanent by adding a bead of calking to the inside perimeter of the window.

 

As mentioned in the first post, the water inside will still freeze, especially at night, that’s not the goal.  The goal is to keep the water from freezing in order to give the chickens an extended period of drinking time.  If it’s sunny, the temperature can drop in the mid 20’s at night and 32 during the day and the sun will melt the water that froze overnight in a couple hours in the morning.

We’re looking at weather in the teens and below zero in the coming weeks.  That means we’ll need to go out and dump the frozen water, which is why I use a rubber bowl.  When we replace it with warm water, if it’s sunny I don’t expect it to freeze for the rest of the daylight hours, even at those temperatures.  If it’s cloudy, we’ll check it and maybe need to refresh with warm water later in the day.

John Deere 216 Snow blade

I got the 216 ready for snow and the swivel on the blade kicked my ass for longer than I’d like to admit. Not sure how many 216s are still in service, mine’s 40 years old, but maybe this could help someone.  

The snow chains went on easy, I just jacked the rear end up a few inches off the ground and rolled the chains over the tires.  In the past I’ve tried laying out the chains and rolling the wheels on top, but that was more difficult than jacking it up.   I leave the wheel weights on all year round for extra traction.

The blade wasn’t as hard to attach as in the past, probably because I’ve done it a few times now and know how it attaches.  However, when I went to attach the linkage handle to swivel the blade from side to side, it would not go together.

No matter how I tried, I could not attach the swivel handle to the swivel bar (highlighted in the blue square).  I knew from previous years that it shouldn’t be that hard to do.   Also, I couldn’t seem to manually use the swivel bar and swivel the blade.  I have a manual for everything else that attaches to the 216, but not the blade, so I went to Duck Duck Go to search the internet.

 

 

I found an image of a blade already attached that showed me my issue.  The swivel bar on my blade had been turned horizontal and it should be vertical; however, I could not get it to go vertical.   Somehow in storage the blade must have been hyper extended and allowed it into the horizontal position.

I didn’t want to take the blade off again to figure it out, so I unhooked the swivel bar where it pins onto the mount and with a couple hits with a hammer got it off and back on in the correct orientation.  The handle attached just as I thought from there.

There’s always that one thing that doesn’t want to play nice when you’re trying to hurry, but now I’m ready for a few inches of snow.  If we get much more than that, then I’ll be putting the chains, the really heavy ones, on the Cub Cadet compact tractor and attaching the grader blade.