Thursday, October 20, 2011

The trouble with timers.

My preparations for winter are very involved.  Over the years, I have worked to make my life easier during the winter, but it is a long and complicated process, nonetheless.  I have come to rely heavily on timers.  And extension cords.  As a matter of fact, once winter gets a full head of steam, my house resembles an octopus - with extension cord tentacles curling out from both sides. 

On one side of the house are the chickens/ducks.  I provide them with heated water all winter.  This ensures they always have water to drink and it means I don't have to go out every morning and chop through ice.  When it gets really, really cold, I add a light for a little bit of heat.

On the other side of the house are the sheep, llama and goats.  I also provide a heated water source for the sheep, and now have the goats with their own needs in the barn. 

And then there is the problem of light.  Or lack thereof.  Now, by the time I get home, it is almost dark.  My front door is a distance from the driveway and it can get pretty dicey navigating the rough terrain.  I have on my wish list a spotlight that will hit the drive and the chicken yard that is set off by a motion detector.  But anything involving electrical work is mucho expensive, so on the wish list it will stay for a while.  My cheap and colorful answer to lighting my way involves a timer and orange twinkle lights.  It works fine, I use LED lights so they are more economical, and I can regulate it with a timer. 

I also have a timer in the living room so that the house is illuminated when I get home and the dogs are not left in the dark.  I also have a timer for a light in the barn so the goats are not left in the dark and I can see to feed them and get the hay for the sheep when I get home.  Two years ago I invested in an outdoor spotlight that I can flip on from the house that illuminates most of the sheep paddock.  It also makes a good coyote deterrent.  But it was expensive to have installed, and expensive to run.  It's only on for about an hour and a half every night.  Just long enough for the eating machines to munch their way through their hay.

Goodness!  I've rambled on forever without getting to the point of my title!  How odd! (not).  Yesterday, we had a weather front come through and with it, high winds and rain.  This resulted in - not surprisingly - a power outage.  Of course, I was snug in my office during all this drama, and didn't have a clue that the lights had gone out at home.  By the time I got home, it was still blowing rain sideways and it was dark.  I mean, dark EVERYwhere.  The house was dark, the barn was dark.  I can't tell you how much fun it is to go out with your headlamp on (but without my glasses, of course) to try to fathom how to reset the timer in the barn.  The goats were sticking closely to my legs during the whole process.  I don't think they cared for the dark, either.  I finally got the light on and the timer reset.  Then I had to go inside and reset those timers.  And the nine million digital clocks.  I don't reset the microwave because I don't use it.  As a matter of fact, it's on the heave-ho list.

In my Perfect World, I would have power run to all the outbuildings, have it powered by alternative energy sources, and have someone home to take care of it while I commute back from work.  Since my Perfect World is a place far, far, far away, I will juggle my timers and  enjoy my twinkle lights!


  1. So I suppose it sucked to have some neighbor put a box of jars and a screen right in front of the door for you to trip over in the dark...

  2. Melanie - HA! Especially a by-then-sodden box! I ended up having to shove it to the side, then bring the jars in individually! But, hey! Free canning jars were worth it - thank you very much!

  3. Susan, We bought motion activated solar spot lights at Home Depot and they work well. The big plus is that there is nothing to wire. Since they are their own power source you just mount the light and face the little solar panel towards the sun. At least you will have a light for yourself when you get home to light the walk way. We have one just sitting in a bush out front (cause someone has yet to get around to mounting it some where productive) and it turns on every time we walk by. They were not that badly priced, and far cheaper than the hospital bill from when you fall down in the dark.

  4. A couple nights ago I turned the lights off in our bedroom - yeah, that place I've navigated every night for the past nine years - headed to bed, and stubbed my foot on the dresser. My fourth toe is the most dramatic shades of purple and green. I think lights become more important as we get older!

  5. How about a flashlight in your car?
    Throw out your microwave? will you easily peel your butternut squash, which peels like a dream after 3 minutes in microwave.
    Do you truly think your dogs care if it is dark or light? :)

  6. Jane - So true. I will have to look for them the next time I am there. Then I will just have to hope for sun with which to charge them!

    Michelle - OUCH! That hurt just reading about it -- and isn't it fun trying to find something to put on your foot that does hurt?

    Sylvie - Yes, you would think I would remember that I have one in my car. I'm tough - I'd rather struggle with my butternut squash than cause who-knows-what damage with all that zapping. Yes, I think that Scrappy doesn't like the dark - but neither do I like to stumble into a dark house.

  7. I second the solar lights! We (still) don't have power down at the barn and we installed one with a switch that we can turn on if we have to go down there in the dark. I actually bought a battery-powered Coleman lantern a couple of weeks ago so that I can see to milk the goat early in the morning! LOL!!

  8. Candy - I had originally thought about it, but the barn is closely sided by tall pine trees. That really limits the sun. Of course, most of the trees are now inflicted with whatever fir disease going around, so they may all have to be cut down. While I'd hate to see that, it would solve my solar problem.

  9. I like the idea of solar lights AND of your twinkly fairy lights - cheerful! :)

  10. I am sitting here trying to figure how to light up yer coin ah phrase. You appear to have a system going there of cords. Hmm trees do not help solar but maybe a gopher in a wire wheel to power the barn. Windmill? My mind went blank. I guess you will have to google! Free canning jars...whoot whoot!

  11. I think you've got a pretty ingenious system going there with timers and all. 'Course, when the power is out . . . that's another story. I second Jane's idea for a solar powered light or two.

    Yes, yes, yes, do get rid of that microwave. You don't want to eat food that has had every cell changed by zapping. It's not food fit for the human body anymore after being in the microwave.

  12. We've got some solar powered walk lights for lighting the way to important areas- the door, the compost pile, etc. I'm going to have to put some out by the chickens soon since it is getting darker every day!! We even use one of those walk lights inside at the top of the basement stairs. There is enough light coming in through the south door to charge it during the day and it stays lit til morning.
    But I do agree with you- it is terrible to come home to complete darkness.

  13. Tombstone Livestock

    I have several solar motion sensor lights around outside, bought them when they were on sale, batteries lasted about 5 years, but well worth it, also bought several small solar lights for around walkways / patio. Been building a bottle tree with blue bottles on rebar, used green bottles for leaves and last week I bought some round globe solar lights to put around the bottom, well got the idea to leave off the ground pegs and put several in my bottle tree, love it went back and bought more, now just need to go get more rebar and blue and green bottles and make my tree bigger ..... Planted day lillies around the base.