Vashon Island, Washington, USA
Here is a sample chicken cam picture:
This is our late rooster Red. He turned vicious and eventually became Thanksgiving dinner to a deserving Vietnamese family.
If you have a pop-up blocker installed, the chicken cam window may not open. If so, you will need to enable pop-ups from this site. If the date/time on the chicken cam image is not current, then either we had a power outage or the coop computer is down. After dusk and before morning light the camera 1 image will be black. Camera 2 has extended hours of additional artificial light.
If you want a direct link to switch to the chicken cam pages click here for Camera 1 and click here for camera 2.
Our experience raising chickens started when a box of chicks arrived in the mail on April 27, 2005. Not many people realize that chicken hatcheries ship chickens all over the country by US Postal Service. In the springtime in the Vashon Island Post Office you can sometimes hear boxes of chicks going "peep-peep-peep..." The post office calls you when your chicks arrive so that you can pick them up right away. Chicks can survive without food or water for more than 72 hours on the yolk sack that is stll inside them when they hatch.
Ann had ordered 24 chicks in a mixture of breeds from Privot Hatchery: Buff Orphington, Welsummer, Americana, and Silver-laced Wyandotte. Ann ordered all pullets (hens), but we got straight-run Welsummers - a mixture of sexes. We ended up with two Welsummer roosters. The minimum chick order is 24. We have a neighbor that has chickens and she needed some more hens so she planned on taking some of the hens. Later our neighbor took 11 hens. We were left with 13 hens and two roosters. We eventually gave one rooster to another family who wanted one for their flock.
One would think that someone receiving a shipment of chickens would be prepared and have some place to keep them. Not us. It was chickens first, housing later.
While our big coop was being constructed we kept the chicks in a large cardboard box in our laundry room. (Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of that.)
Soon the chicks had outgrown the cardboard box, but our coop wasn't ready. We built a temporary coop for them that was a low wood-frame box covered with chicken wire.
On May 31st we moved them into the temporary coop in the back yard.
They soon out grew their temporary coop. We let them roam the back yard during the day, and kept them locked up in the temporary coop at night.
Click here for a picture of the temporary coop.
As you can see, the temporary coop is heavily fortified with chicken wire AND hardware cloth. This was necessary because we found out the hard way that racoons can reach through chicken wire and get at chicks. We lost one chick this way. We lost another chick due to illness. That's an adolescent Buff Orphington closest to the front.
Our neighbor, Paul Blake, built our coop for us. It is a walk-in unit built on a 4' X 8' floor plan. It has one door, 3 windows and a covered 'deck' on one side.
The deck is where we store chicken feed, chicken scratch, and straw. Paul runs a sawmill on his property and built the coop out of lumber he sawed from logs himself.
He built the framework for the coop in his lumber yard. On August 13th he dragged it up to our yard with his tractor. Here are links to some pictures taken that eventfull day:
Coop being dragged up Cove Rd.
Coop being dragged into our yard.
Coop close to its destination.
One interesting fact about Paul's tractor: It is a 1962 Porche Cub that was purchased at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair by his father. The tractor gets regular use in Paul's log yard and in our neighborhood. It has a two-cylinder diesel engine. When he starts it up we can always hear its very distinctive "rap-rap-rap-rap" sound.
The coop was placed in our main garden area near our vegetable garden. It was delivered in a partially complete state. I installed the windows in the coop, and Ann and I built the chicken run around the coop on August 20-21. We had a roof put on the coop, and moved the chickens in on August 24. The exterior walls of the coop will be covered with beveled cedar siding. As of November we have siding on the northeast side, and the door installed, but we haven't finished putting on the siding on the other sides. The chickens aren't complaining, though.
The run is in the shape of an "L" with the coop oriented on a diagonal in the middle of the run where the two legs of the "L" meet. The chicken cam camera 1 is positioned in a corner of the chicken door on the side of the coop. You often will see chickens going up and down the ramp directly in front of camera 1. Click here for picture of the coop and chicken run.
Since that picture was taken the (people) door and siding on that side have been installed.
The back window in the coop is a stained glass window Ann got at a garage sale. Ann and our son Tim built four nesting boxes on the back wall. I installed the roosting pole. This is a very important feature for the chickens. They require a place to roost at night.
Click here for picture of the inside of the coop.
Click here for picture of the chickens roosting.
In September we began waiting for the hens to start laying. On September 12th we got our first egg. That was an exciting day. Of course, they didn't all start laying at once. First we got one per day. Then two. Then three, etc. Initially the eggs were small and then they gradually got larger. Some of the first eggs were quite small - one even tiny. Occasionally we get a large egg. As the weeks went by we got more and more eggs each day and they got larger and larger until they reached the size of small and medium store-bought eggs. Production peaked on October 10. That day we got 10 eggs! That was an exceptional day, however. Normally we get about 8 eggs per day max. Production has fallen off this winter to about 7 per day.
Ann specifically ordered a variety of breeds in order to get eggs of different colors. The Americana breed is noted for laying colorful "Easter eggs." The first few eggs they layed were robin's egg blue. Now their eggs are a light green color. Click here for picture of a few day's production from September.
Our boys tried to make pets of the chickens. That doesn't quite work, but they can be brought up to be more comfortable with people, and used to being held.
Click here for a picture of our son Pat holding the rooster, Red.
How the chicken cam works:
The chicken cam is powered by a Gateway laptop in the chicken coop. I call this the coop computer. It sits on a shelf high above the chickens inside the coop. I have to keep the shelf closed off or the chickens will roost on the computer and make a big mess. (I found this out the hard way.) The cameras are two Lgitech QuickCam 3000's. These connect to the laptop via two USB ports. The webcam software that I am currently using is BooruWebCam. BooruWebCam adds a date/time stamp and captions to each picture image.
The coop computer is connected to my home network via a wireless (Wi-Fi) connection . I have a cable modem broadband connection to the internet. My ISP and website hosting service is provided by Comcast. BooruWebCam takes a still picture with each camera every 30 seconds (staggered by 15 seconds), and then immediately uploads the picture image file to a location on my website at Comcast via FTP. The chicken cam image web pages are designed to retrieve a new image from my website every 30 seconds. (But they are not synchronized with the taking of the pictures - this is asynchronous.) It takes about 3 seconds to FTP one image file.
That's a summary of how it works. I left out some details, but that should be enough information to help someone else trying to setup a web cam.
My next project is to setup a server in the house and have the coop computer save the images files to my server. Then I will setup a website on my server for the sole purpose of serving up the image files to the users visiting the Vashon Chickens website (still on Comcast). This will allow me to do image updates faster than every 30 seconds. (Comcast has a limitation that files can be FTP'ed to a user's website no faster than once every 30 seconds.)
Topics to be covered in the future:
Use the link below to contact us about our chickens, website, or the chicken cam.
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Last updated May 3, 2006