Running Electricity – A How-Not-To Guide

It gets dark super early these days.

"I'm not going back down there until they get rid of all that cold, white stuff."

“I’m not going back down there until they get rid of all that cold, white stuff.”

Just a couple of weeks following daylight savings time, the weather became downright wintry.  We got our first real snowfall (about three inches) and temperatures have dropped into the teens more than once.

Because the farm is not equipped with electricity or plumbing for our out-buildings, we find it necessary to run electricity to them in the winter for a number of reasons.

Primarily, we need to keep everyone’s water from freezing. We have a heated water bucket for the goats, and heated water stands upon which the chickens’ waterers sit.  Our challenge, every winter, is to get electricity to these items.

Now, there are fairly simple, reasonably affordable ways to do this safely.

We could dig a trench, run wire through metal conduit, install an auxiliary outlet, and be on our way.  This would be quite inexpensive (maybe a couple hundred dollars all told) and would work really well.

So, of course, that’s not what we do.

We do this.

We do this.

We opt, year after year, for the cumbersome and unsightly “Hang Bright Orange Extension Cords From Building to Building” method.  This way, we are ensuring that we get power to the animals in the least attractive, most unsafe way possible.

It is apparently, as our teenage daughter would say, how we roll.

But, it works.  And we’re pretty lazy.  So…

This year, for the first time, Dave added yet another high-tech feature: lighting!

The only spot that really needed some illumination was the goat shed.

Dinner by trouble light.

Dinner by trouble light.

We milk Janie once a day, always in the evening. Now that it is dark by 4:30, we’ve been milking by flashlight which is, to say the least, not ideal.

Dave affixed a trouble light to one of the cords strung from the house to the chicken coop to the goat shed, providing the necessary (and greatly appreciated) light by which to milk.

Plus, it greatly enhances the overall mood of the shed which the ladies no doubt enjoy while dining.

While I am certain that one day we will just do the right thing and bury the cables and install the outlets and put safety first, we just haven’t yet found the time for such frivolity.

Wires, wires, everywhere, and not a spark to sink.

Wires, wires, everywhere, and not a spark to sink.

Until we do, we’ll just have to continue to live by the words of Catherine Aird who said, “If you can’t be a good example, you’ll have to be a horrible warniIMG_7688ng.”


About applewoodfarm

Restaurateur, farmer, bartender, beekeeper, friend, wife, mother, dog lover, cat tolerater, chicken hypnotizer, blogger, and sometime yogi
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6 Responses to Running Electricity – A How-Not-To Guide

  1. ccm989 says:

    Yup our hens don’t like the cold wet stuff either. So I shrink wrap their run every fall. I got the idea from the local marina where all the boats get shrink wrapped. It keeps the snow out and lets the hens have a little run around space. To heat the waterer I use a GREEN extension cord. It blends in so nicely with the dormant everything.

  2. Buffy says:

    If it makes you feel better, I’m married to an electrical engineer and we use the orange cord method too!

  3. Just discovered this blog and I love it. I had goats and chickens as a kid upstate, moved to NYC as soon as I graduated from college and lived there till we retired back upstate a year ago. We own some land, are going to build a house and are thinking goats and chickens. Your blog is both an excellent example and a horrible warning!! And it’s also really funny. Just great.

  4. Lynda says:

    Same here. We’ve even had the dreaded heat lamp fail that everyone warns about (burned a hole in the bottom hutch…everyone survived! 🙂 ) and we’re still running the cords out there. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, and hope for the best.

  5. Bill says:

    We have electricity in our barn, but when it’s cold and wet (that is, when you need the lights the most), the lights don’t work.

    Not long after we settled into this life Cherie said one of the things that made here realize she wasn’t in Kansas anymore (or maybe she was) was reading someone’s blog and being envious of their heated chicken waterer. We still have to break the ice in ours every morning.

  6. canadiandoomer says:

    We use standalone solar lights everywhere. For water, we just hike it to the animals from inside the house.

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