Feds Shut Down Amish Dairy for Good

by Chris on February 14, 2012

Last year you may remember that we talked about the FDA persecuting an Amish farmer by the name of Dan Allgyr in Pennsylvania. He was selling unpasteurized milk and it was being distributed to Washington, D.C. to willing customers who were completely aware of any possible drawbacks (as benefits for that matter.)

Well, the Feds have not stopped. They raided Dan Allgyr’s Rainbow Acres Farm again in the early morning and carried out a sting operation to catch him in the most heinous of crimes, the interstate sale of unpasteurized milk products. In Pennsylvania, the home state of Dan Allgyr’s Rainbow Acres Farm, it’s legal to sell unpasteurized milk products. But the FDA doesn’t want it to be transported to Washington, D.C. where a large number of Mr. Allgyr’s customers reside.

Dan Allgyr has chosen to shut down instead of risk drawing the further wrath of the food police. Judge Lawrence F. Stengel stated that if he is found to have violated the Federal law again, Allgyr will have to pay the FDA’s cost for investigating him and persecuting him. Of course, the FDA hasn’t disclosed just how much they have spent to persecute a dairy farmer from rural Pennsylvania for providing a product with full disclosure to willing consumers who are completely aware of the nature of unpasteurized dairy products. This witch hunt against Raw Milk has been going on since 2009 and wasted, in my opinion, taxpayer dollars.

Amish Horse Carriage Feds Shut Down Amish Dairy for Good

Quick call the FDA, They Might Be Raw Milk Smugglers!

With all of the problems in this country, I’m baffled why the FDA wastes their time and our money to persecute farmers and deny people their food rights. While I can’t argue that the Federal government has the ability to address this as interstate commerce, I do feel that our inalienable rights are are under assault.


My Solar Powered Chicken Coop

by Chris on February 8, 2012

This summer, the heat was pretty rough on man and beast. During the worst part of the summer, two of our laying hens died in the same week. They both died in the chicken coop without any obvious sign of foul play. Neither had shown any signs of illness. The only thing that I could think might have caused it was the heat. I’m no ornithologist and I don’t remember any mention of it when I took Anatomy and Physiology of Domesticated Farm Animals, but I came to the conclusion that my hens had died of heat stroke.

Solar Power to Fight Summer Heat Wave

Our chicken coop and it’s attached run are in full sun from about 9:00 AM till around 2:00 PM. Moving the coop to a shadier spot really wasn’t an option that I wanted to consider, so I began thinking how I could improve the situation. I had been toying with the idea of adding solar power to some of my out buildings over the last few years, but I hadn’t taken the plunge. With that idea floating around in my head, I decided that I was going to create a Solar Powered Chicken Coop!

Although there are three windows in the chicken coop, which generally provides plenty of ventilation, I didn’t think there was enough air circulation going on during these hot summer days. So my main goal was to increase the airflow inside the coop. A small photovoltaic solar panel could easily directly power an electric fan during the time the chicken coop was in the direct sunlight. Since the coop was shaded after 2:00 PM , I wasn’t concerned with powering the fan when the coop was in the shade of the crepe myrtles. And if the day was particularly cloudy and the sun was obscured, I wasn’t worried since the air temperature would hopefully be lower. By qualifying the need for the fan to run, just when the sun was shining on the coop, I eliminated the need (at this time) of a battery for my solar power system to store power. The fan only had to run when the sun is shining on the coop.

This greatly simplified my system. Basically it is just a small photovoltaic panel , the requisite wiring, a junction box and my electric fan. Since I am powering the fan directly from the solar panel, the fan had to be Direct Current (DC) and not Alternating Current (AC). Since I live in the United States, most appliances are AC and would require a Power Inverter to convert the DC power that the solar panel generates into AC power. While Power Inverters have their place in larger solar power systems, it would have been a waste (as well as an added expense) for a system this small. There is an inherent loss of energy when a Power Inverter is used.

I had three other requirements for my Solar Power Chicken Coop project :
1. The project had to have a fairly low budget
2. The project had to be fast to implement
3. The project had to be easy to take down if needed

I began to research my needed materials. Believe it or not, there’s not a lot of data (until this post) about building a solar powered chicken coop. The only things that I figured I needed to buy were the solar panel and the DC powered fan. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you may know that I believe in stocking up on common maintenance and building supplies. I figured that I had all of the incidental supplies on hand.

After looking at the photovoltic panels that were available, I decided on a small 5 watt solar panel.  I knew I wouldn’t need a lot of wattage and it’s small size meant that I could mount it directly to the South facing roof of the chicken coop.  I then found a  dashboard mountable DC powered 12v electric fan.  These are the types of fans that people use for RV’s or 18 wheelers.   The fan came with a clip on mount and it’s cord was designed to plug into a vehicles cigarette lighter.   Once I had gotten the two major components it was time to get to work.

20110731133357 300x225 My Solar Powered Chicken Coop

5 Watt Solar Panel

The first thing I did was to cut off the cigarette lighter adapter from the power cord of the fan.  We wouldn’t be needing it.  Of course I couldn’t just throw it away, so it went into my junk parts electrical box in the barn (waste not want not right?).   I then split the unified cord and split out the two wires for about six inches to make it easier to wire together.  The solar panel I bought had alligator terminal clips on it’s cord.  I cut those off  (saved them too!)  since I wouldn’t be needing them.  These clips are designed for clipping directly onto a battery and not for hard wiring the panel into a system.

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Cutting Alligator Clamp off with my Pliers

I then realized that I need some mounts to attach the solar panel to the roof.  I bought several inch wide “L” brackets that were three inches long on each side.  I bent one of the sides of each bracket  and formed them into a “J” shape.  I sat the panel on the roof of the chicken coop and found a spot that I liked.  I marked it and then attached two of my “J” brackets for the bottom edge and one on the upper right edge.  This allows the solar panel to be slid in and out of the bracketing easily if I ever want to remove it.

I got my six year old to help me drill a hole in the back wall of the chicken coop just below the roof line to run the cord from the panel to the electrical junction box.  The kids don’t always have the greatest attention span when it comes to my projects, but I try to get them involved when I can.    I then mounted a 4 inch junction box inside the coup and ran the solar panel wiring into the box.   I selected where I thought would be the best spot to mount my fan and then ran the fan power cord to the junction box.  I used low voltage cable staples to secure all of my wiring both inside and outside of the chicken coop.

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Junction Box in the Solar Powered Chicken Coop

With the wiring run to the junction box, I simply used wire nuts to connect the solar panel cord to the fan’s power cord in the junction box.  If you’ve never done any electrical work, you might want to ask a friend who has experience with this step, although just about anyone is capable of this basic wiring.  I then positioned my fan (which had a clip on base) in a spot that would send airflow downward to where the hens lay.  I then put on the junction box cover and used low voltage cable staples to secure my wiring along the wall of the coop.

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DC Solar Powered Oscillating Fan Mounted in Chicken Coop

The fan now runs from the moment the solar panel starts catching the morning rays until the coop is shaded in the afternoon.  The hens have been fine since the fan was added, despite further weeks of daytime temperatures ove  one hundred degrees.  Since the fan seemed to alleviate our problem, we have since added two new hens to replace the two we lost in July.

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Happy Chickens - Thanks to the Solar Powered Fan

I’ve been pleased with my first foray into the world of solar power for structures.  I’m contemplating what my next project would be.  I don’t think that we as a family are ready for the commitment that it would take to install an array large enough to supply our household needs.  But I feel that with some planning and experimentation, we can add additional solar power to some of our other outbuildings.  Another plan that I’m thinking of would involve a mobile, cart based photovoltaic setup that would consist of a few larger solar panels, a couple of 12 volt deep cycle batteries and an inverter.   It would be a sort of moveable solar emergency generator.

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The Solar Powered Chicken Coop


Solar Powered Chicken Coop Parts List

You can order the solar panel and electric fan from Amazon.com so that you don’t have to hunt around.  All of the other items can be found at any decent hardware store.



It Pays to Realize When You are Over Your Head

November 9, 2011

I grew up with a father and grandfather who could do just about anything mechanically that they could set their mind to. So naturally, I just assumed growing up that I could just about anything too. Over the years though, I’ve realized that you have to know your limits. On somethings it’s obvious. I realize [...]

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Organic Control of the Musk Thistle

May 16, 2011

A couple of years ago, we temporarily housed 13 horses on our five acres of coastal bermuda pasture while my in-laws transitioned to a new piece of property. Despite providing them with a steady and ample supply of round bales, the pasture was severely over-grazed. As we all know, when you over-graze a piece of [...]

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Federal Food Oppression? FDA Raids Amish Farm Selling Unpasteurized Milk

May 2, 2011

Once again, the FDA has gone after farmers and consumers interested in producing and consuming unpasteurized milk products. The FDA has spent over a years worth of resources to shut down Dan Allgyr’s Rainbow Acres Farm in Pennsylvania. Mr. Allgyr is accused of violating interstate commerce laws by selling unpasteurized milk across state lines to [...]

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The Death of a Pair of Work Boots – 10 Years of Service From a Pair of Vasque Sundowners

April 12, 2011

This last week, I was forced to admit defeat and hang up my ten year old pair of Vasque Sundowner hiking boots. I have worn those boots while building, demolishing, hiking, digging, gardening, landscaping and everything in between. They have been my default outdoor wear. To me they are the ultimate outdoor boot. Waterproof but [...]

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Can We Help Defund the Food Safety Modernization Act?

April 5, 2011

Last year in 2010, the Senate passed the Food Safety Modernization Act SB 510. The bill bounced back to the 111th Congress and was renamed and wrapped up in the Military Construction and Veterans Affair and Related Agencies Appropriations Act H.R. 3082. It was passed in short order and funded by $3.8 Billion! How Will [...]

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Your Compost Pile Shouldn’t Stink – Tips to Avoid a Smelly Compost Pile

March 27, 2011

In conversations with friends who know that I have compost piles, one of the common things that I hear is “I wouldn’t want a compost pile because of the smell!” I just shake my head and reassure them that my compost piles don’t smell like anything other than rich fertile soil. But it takes some [...]

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Varying Degrees of Self Sufficiency – Finding What’s Right For You

March 26, 2011

If you asked a hundred people what it meant to be self sufficient, I’m sure you would get a wide variety of answers. To the hardcore homesteader it might mean living completely off the grid and purchasing as little as possible from retailers. For an apartment dweller it might just mean being able to share [...]

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The New Hampshire Supreme Court Supports a Bad Lower Court Decision Against Homeschooling

March 26, 2011

On March 16th, 2011 the New Hampshire State Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s 2009 decision to force a homeschooled girl to begin attending public school. The lower court’s decision focused on a divorced couple where the father objected to the girl being homeschooled by her Christian mother. The girl herself was adamant that she [...]

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