Solar Powered Electric Fence for Chicken Predators

Solar Powered Fence Charging Station

Solar Powered Fence Charging Station

Over the past couple of years I have made some major changes and improvements to my electric fencing projects. You can see my original, more modest efforts here. This is still a good page to get the basics. However, I have migrated away from fully electric fence for the goats. The fence worked just fine for them, however, the thick brush was impossible to keep clear of the fence lines and periodic flooding also occurred so the fence continually grounded out.

It is really hard to run electric fence through this! It periodically floods, is almost always swampy and the weeds grow up seemingly overnight!

It is really hard to run electric fence through this! It periodically floods, is almost always swampy and the weeds grow up seemingly overnight!

Ironically, my main “brush clearing” employees (the goats) were so afraid of the electric fence, they wouldn’t go near it. As such, the weeds quickly grow up and shorted it out. I briefly gave up on electric fence and instead I switched to 4 foot welded wire on T-posts. However, the goats quickly learned to “climb” this fence to reach tasty branches on the other side and thus collapsed it, so I needed to retain one electric wire to keep them off and away from the fence. However, I am able to keep this hot wire high enough off the ground to reduce some of the pressure from weeds. In the really swampy area, I have a few knife switch cut-offs, so I can shut this section off during high weed season, the cattails and phragmites grow tall enough to put heavy pressure on the fence.

I did however, find a new purpose to expand my electric fencing project. I have converted a half acre plot into a small orchard and this is also a nice place to have my chickens free range in the grassy area. I have a five foot tall welded wire fence enclosing this area completely, but the foxes very soon figured out it was easy to dig underneath to start grabbing the hens. I quickly grew tired of plugging all their holes as it was a never ending task and the thought of extending the fence underground along its entire length was just too daunting (particularly with all the tree roots and fieldstones everywhere). As such, I put one hot wire very close to the ground to stop any digging activities.

Anti-Predator electric fence wire about 6-8 inches off the ground running along the outside perimeter.

Anti-Predator electric fence wire about 6-8 inches off the ground running along the outside perimeter.

I was a little nervous about it shorting out (as per above), but this area of the farm is a little shadier along the fence line (under a heavy tree canopy) and thus the weed pressure is a lighter, also since it doesn’t go through the swampiest areas, it is easier to maintain once in awhile with a weed whacker. So far it seems to be working.

The materials I needed to do this are as follows:

  • Homemade electric fence brackets made of PT 2X4
  • Screw-in plastic insulators for wood posts
  • Nylon wire tensioners (not the steel type for high tensile fence)
  • 18 Gauge Aluminum Fence Wire (recycled from my goat fence project)
  • 2’ and 4’ sections of rebar for tricky areas
  • Rebar electric fence insulators
  • ½” Black HDPE irrigation pipe (to insulate wire that needs to snake through another fence) and zip ties
  • Electric fence gate handles and anchors
  • Assorted hardware including 3” galvanized wood screws

Regarding the homemade electric fence brackets, I needed these because I wanted to use the existing wood posts to hold the electric wire. However, I have always found that if I just used the screw in plastic insulators directly on the post, the electric wire was always too close to the welded wire fence and shorted out. Even the slightest bowing of the welded wire would cause it to come in direct contact with the electric wire. A small branch falling on the hot wire would push it against the fence too. There doesn’t seem to be a cheap and ready-made product to make the hot wire “stand-off” a bit from the fence so I made my own. Basically, I have been saving all my PT 2X4 scraps from my fencing project and cut them into 8” pieces for the base and 4” pieces to hold the insulators. Of course, I painted them all green to match the fence posts.

Making my homemade electric fence brackets, assembly line style!

Making my homemade electric fence brackets, assembly line style!

These really help to keep the hot wire a good distance from the actual metal fence and make it just that much more difficult to short out, yet also keep predators away.

Once I had my brackets made, it was easy enough to screw a plastic insulator onto the end of each one (I used two insulators on corners, as there is more pressure) and then screw the bracket onto the fence post so the hot wire was about 6 or 8 inches from the ground.

Fence bracket in action. This one requires two insulators as it is rounding a corner.

Fence bracket in action. This one requires two insulators as it is rounding a corner.

So I went along like this, but invariably there were some irregularities. In areas where my fence was bowing out too much and hit the hot wire… well, I pounded in some rebar stakes to hold it back.

Rebar holding back the welded wire fence to prevent shorting it out.

Rebar holding back the welded wire fence to prevent shorting it out.

In areas where I needed to go through an adjoining fence, I put a section of HDPE pipe and a couple zip ties to act as an insulating conduit.

A small length of HDPE irrigation pipe to act as an insulating conduit.

A small length of HDPE irrigation pipe to act as an insulating conduit.

In a few areas I needed to put small rebar stakes with an insulator to help hold the hot wire away from trees and other obstacles.

Rebar stake to help position the wire "exactly" where it needs to be.

Rebar stake to help position the wire “exactly” where it needs to be.

Another piece of rebar with an insulator to help me weave the wire through some existing trees.

Another piece of rebar with an insulator to help me weave the wire through some existing trees.

 

I also have several gates that needed to be addressed. For gates that are used for tractor access, I obviously needed an electric gate that can be disconnected an moved. For “human” gates, this wasn’t really necessary, as it is just as easy to step over this low wire as it is to disconnect a gate. You can buy a fancy kit that has spring-type wire for the gate, but I find it easy enough just to double over some regular aluminum wire and use just a simple handle with a pair of gate anchors at either end. This will only run you about 5-10 dollars or so.

Gate Handle

Gate Handle

Close-up of customized gate hardware mounted on my fence bracket.

Close-up of customized gate hardware mounted on my fence bracket.

Also, I added a lightning arrestor, and a handful of nylon fence tighteners to help me keep the wire from sagging.

A ceramic lightning arrestor attached to a ground rod. Hopefully, this will spare my charger in the event of a lightning strike (has not happened yet!).

A ceramic lightning arrestor attached to a ground rod. Hopefully, this will spare my charger in the event of a lightning strike (has not happened yet!).

Close-up of the lightning arrestor. This is one time use, and will need to be replaced in the event of a lightning strike (think of it as a fuse).

Close-up of the lightning arrestor. This is one time use, and will need to be replaced in the event of a lightning strike (think of it as a fuse).

In the end, by hook or by crook, I got all the wire hung (maybe 800-1000 feet, something like this). This system has been working great for me. It has been in place for nearly two years, and there hasn’t been a single hole dug under the fence. About once a week I check it with my Zareba “Fence Doctor” to check the voltage and determine if there are any shorts.

The "Fence Doctor." This is worth the money for long fences. If your fence is short, get a basic tester for much less.

The “Fence Doctor.” This is worth the money for long fences. If your fence is short, get a basic tester for much less.

If you are going to have a significant amount of electric fence (I would say over a 4-500 feet), I highly recommend getting a “Fence Doctor” or similar high end fence tester. It was a bit pricey at over a hundred bucks, but if there is a short it will indicate in which direction you can find the short. This can save you a significant time and energy when trying to find that one little branch that is pushing on the hot wire. If you have a shorter fence (say maybe just a around a small chicken run) it is a waste of money. Just get a regular voltage tester and you will be fine.

One unforeseen issue I have had is with (if you can believe it) snow in the winter… It tears my homemade fence brackets and knife switches apart! For two springs now, after the snow melts away I have encountered multiple broken fence brackets (the two 3” wood screws are that hold these brackets together literally snapped in half). Originally, I thought maybe someone was standing on the brackets as a convenient step to try to scale the fence (what else could snap steel wood screws like this?). However, I think I have figured this out. In the winter, the snow drifts against the fence (sometimes 3 or more feet deep). The sun melts the top layer of the snow during the day that then refreezes at night into a solid sheet of ice an inch or two thick on the top. Eventually, the underlying snow either melts or blows away and this enormous sheet of ice is now resting directly on the fence wire and it snaps the holders as it weighs hundreds of pounds.

Similarly a couple of cut-off knife switches have been pulled apart at the plastic base. I think what happens here is that the reeds have grown up over the wire and then died back in frost and end up draped over the wire. This catches the snow and ice and just like with the brackets, the weight pulls the switches apart. So in order to prevent this, I put a couple of screw in insulators in front of the switches to take the additional strain off of the switches directly. So far, so good on this fix.

Protecting my delicate cut-off switches from excessive strain by tying the wire off on two separate insulators.

Protecting my delicate cut-off switches from excessive strain by tying the wire off on two separate insulators.

In both instances here (if you can believe it) the tensile strength of the aluminum wire is such that the wire remains intact as the brackets and switches give way first. I just prepare to replace a few of these each spring after the thaw before turning the fence back on for the season as there is probably no other way around this.

I have also made major upgrades to my fence charger and solar power system.

This is my original, basic fence charging station. This had a single battery, a 15 watt solar panel, a 7 amp charge controller, and a 1 joule fence charger.

This is my original, basic fence charging station. This had a single battery, a 15 watt solar panel, a 7 amp charge controller, and a 1 joule fence charger.

This is my second fence charging station near the orchard. Likewise, this had only a single battery, and the most basic solar panel and charge controller. The 2 joule charger, quickly drained the battery.

This is my second fence charging station near the orchard. Likewise, this had only a single battery, and the most basic solar panel and charge controller. The 2 joule charger, quickly drained the battery.

I have doubled the power of my fence charger from 1 Joule to 2. This particular charger is rated for 50 miles of fence (with only a single wire, I don’t think I even have half a mile of wire). However, the extra power gives it more resistance to weeds, as well as over 10,000 volts to keep the predators at bay and the goats contained. I also had two separate “fence charging stations” for each location (orchard and goat field), that I consolidated into one. I built this charging station directly into the fence and this keeps everything dry and protected.

This is my consolidated, comprehensive electric fence command center. the doors close up to keep it relatively weather proof. 1. On/Off switch (just a regular household switch) 2. 2 Joule fence charger 3. 30 amp solar charge controller 4. Plastic box to store my fence tester 5. 3, 105AH deep cycle batteries wired in parallel 6. Can of Hornet Spray, as my fence charging station doubles as a "hornet house". They love it!

This is my consolidated, comprehensive electric fence command center. the doors close up to keep it relatively weather proof.
1. On/Off switch (just a regular household switch)
2. 2 Joule fence charger
3. 30 amp solar charge controller
4. Plastic box to store my fence tester
5. 3, 105AH deep cycle batteries wired in parallel
6. Can of Hornet Spray, as my fence charging station doubles as a “hornet house”. They love it!

Using a two knife switches on the hot wire, I can have either or both locations electrified and it can all be turned on and off from one central location.

Two stainless steel knife switches that control the goat and orchard areas independently.

Two stainless steel knife switches that control the goat and orchard areas independently.

 

The downside of this power increase is the fact that my single 15 watt solar panel (amorphous silicon) has absolutely no hope of competing with the battery drain.

My original, vastly underpowered, 15 watt, amorphous silicon solar panel.

My original, vastly underpowered, 15 watt, amorphous silicon solar panel.

With both areas electrified and a moderate weed load, the battery would drain down in a month, even with good sunlight. It was particularly bad in the fall when the weeds were full grown but the day length is growing shorter, and thus, less sun for the panel.

I played around with adding a few more 15 watt solar panel (as they are relatively cheap and available at Harbor Freight Tools). However, I finally gave up with these and bought some “real” solar panels. I ended up upgrading to three Renogy 100 watt monocrystalline solar panels (for a .3 kilowatt array).

My upgraded 300 Watt monocrystalline solar panel array.

My upgraded 300 Watt monocrystalline solar panel array.

I also needed to upgrade my solar charge controller from a 7 amp to a 30 amp to handle the extra output of the panels. Lastly, I added an additional battery, giving me about 315 amp hours of power (a good reserve). So far, this has easily kept pace with the output from the new charger and additional strain of the larger area even with weeds.

All in all, I am happy with these upgrades, and my fence is easily able to keep foxes and other animals from digging under the fence and my goats respect the fence as well.

Politics 2016

Hi Folks,

I have been combing the internet for months to get the best pictures and memes relating to the Presidential race and overall state of affairs. I have consolidated all these great images to ponder into one gallery for your viewing pleasure. TRIGGER WARNING FOR LIBERALS: As free speech has not yet been fully sanitized for your protection, there may be some controversial pictures in here.

Trump to the Rescue

Picture 1 of 51

Build Your Own High Capacity Chicken Nipple Waterer

Homemade Chicken Nipple Waterer

Homemade Chicken Nipple Waterer

I have spent alot of time perfecting my rainwater chicken watering system which you can find here.However, the time has come for me to get rid of my traditional “open water” chicken waterer and convert to something more professional. Firstly, I wanted to make a cover for my 150 gallon water reservoir. I am still a big fan of using stock tanks as a water tank/reservoir for various reasons. These include ease of cleaning, relative cheap cost, multiple different heaters available for the winter, etc. However, without a cover it is impossible to keep clean (leaves, etc.) and they quickly become mosquito breeding ponds. Next, I am trying to move away from any type of “open water” drinking area. No matter how much I try, the chickens continually foul the water and thus the actual drinking area is also difficult to keep clean. So, I decided to give poultry nipple waterers a try to see if that could remedy that issue. So basically, I am rebuilding my entire system.

Rough Cut Plywood Stock Tank Cover

Rough Cut Plywood Stock Tank Cover

First step was to make a cover for stock tank. I opted for ½” plywood. Simply cutting off the last three feet of a standard sheet will yield a 5’ by 4” foot piece that is just a bit larger than a 150 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank. I wanted to make the lid a bit larger to act as its own rain catching area as well as funneling rainwater from the gutters.

Drainage Hole

Drainage Hole

Double-Layer of Window Screen Applied

Double-Layer of Window Screen Applied

Next step was to cut a 21/8” hole through the center of the board and a lined it with a double layer of nylon window screening stapled to the back to keep out the leaves and other debris. I am a bit nervous the hole may be too small, but that is the largest hole saw I happened to have! At any rate, I can always enlarge later if it looks like it is backing up.

Construction adhesive applied to waterproof the "edges"

Construction adhesive applied to waterproof the “edges”

2X4 Sides Attached and Caulked with Silicone

2X4 Sides Attached and Caulked with Silicone

Next, I wanted to build up the sides a bit to catch the water and give it time to percolate through the screen. For this I used standard 2X4 lumber. I put polyurethane construction adhesive down prior to screwing this together. My hope was that would help waterproof the joints. I also caulked the inside with silicone. This should make the water catching area relatively water tight.

My Completed Stock Tank Cover (for another tank) Connected to a Gutter Downspout

My Completed Stock Tank Cover (for another tank) Connected to a Gutter Downspout

Next, I wanted to redesign the spigot on my tank. I am trying to move away from using garden hose components as they are constantly kinking up. Instead, I am using all PVC with a standard brass boiler spigot. My Rubbermaid tank has a 11/4” bulkhead fitting. I am pretty sure they are all the same size, but if I were you I would take the factory plug out of the fitting and take it with you to the plumbing department to ensure you get the right size. The parts I used were as follows:

Stock Tank Spigot Parts

Stock Tank Spigot Parts

  • 11/4” PVC Male Adapter
  • 11/4” to ½” Reducer Coupling
  • Small section of ½” pipe
  • ½” female adapter
  • ½” brass boiler spigot
  • PVC Piper Primer and PVC Pipe Glue
  • Teflon tape

I glued this all together (and don’t forget the Teflon tape for the spigot) and it works just great without the kinked hose of my last model.

Completed Spigot

Completed Spigot

Next step was to build a pedestal for the stock tank. I want to get this up a bit of the ground to generate just a bit of water pressure. 150 gallons of water weighs about 1,250 pounds so this is going to have to be a relatively strong pedestal. For this, I opted for concrete blocks. I didn’t bother to cement them together as I am only going up three tiers (if it was more than this, it would probably get a bit unstable). But I did make sure they were perfectly level. I simply cut an 8 foot 2×8 I had laying around in half in order to make two four foot sections to support the entire tank.

Concrete Block Pedestal- Make Sure to Completely Level This!

Concrete Block Pedestal- Make Sure to Completely Level This!

Supporting Board Installed on the Pedestal

Supporting Board Installed on the Pedestal- You Can Add a Shim if Required

Next, it was simply a matter of screwing in the spigot (don’t forget the Teflon tape again!), putting the stock tank on the stand, and putting on the cover. I was easily able to put my downspout from the chicken coop gutter to aid in water gathering. So now, it was just a matter of making the nipple waterer to attach to my new reservoir.

Completed, Rain-Fed, and Covered Stock Tank Reservoir

Completed, Rain-Fed, and Covered Stock Tank Reservoir

Okay, there are multiple schools of thought on homemade nipple waterers. The more simple designs use a 5 gallon bucket, the more complex almost always use PVC pipe. The most common way to attach the actual watering nipple to a PVC pipe usually includes drilling a 3/8” hole in the pipe (this seems to be the standard size for the ubiquitous red nipple) and slathering it with silicon. This method looks a little leak prone to me. So instead, I drilled a hole at 11/32” and then used a 3/8” pipe tap to actually thread the PVC so that you could literally screw the nipple in with just some Teflon tape. I tried this and it worked great with no leaks. However, for this particular model, I upgraded to factory made PVC “Tee” sections with a dedicated 3/8” female adapter built in. I got 10 of these off of Amazon for less than 2 dollars each.  So the complete parts list for my new waterer includes:Poultry Watering Nipple 2016_06

Chicken Nipple Waterer Parts

Chicken Nipple Waterer Parts

  • One ¾” male adapter
  • One ¾” to ½” reducer bushing
  • Two 6” pieces of ½” pipe
  • One ½” elbow
  • Five 1’ sections of ½” pipe
  • Five PVC “Tee” sections
  • One 1/2’” female adapter
  • One ½” brass boiler spigot
  • PVC Pipe Primer and PVC Pipe Glue
  • Teflon tape
  • 5 Nipples
Waterer Glued Together with Nipples Installed

Waterer Glued Together with Nipples Installed

So basically, I primed and glued this together like in the picture. After I built it, I ended up moving the elbow to point down rather than up, but really there is no hard and fast methodology here. Basically, you need to position the hose end in such a way you minimize kinking of the hose. I suppose you could also use straight PVC pipe, but I like a bit of flexibility in positioning. Even with the purpose build “Tee” sections, I still used Teflon tape on each and every nipple. I hand tightened these, and then gave them a turn and half with a wrench. I want just enough pressure to gently squeeze the silicon gasket but not so much that it bulges out of place. The boiler spigot will make it easier to drain the waterer for maintenance or winter (freezing water will easily crack the pipe). Also, I could also daisy chain another waterer using this spigot and another short hose.

Washing Machine Hose Kits Make Good Connectors for Chicken Waterers

Washing Machine Hose Kits Make Good Connectors for Chicken Waterers

Normally, I use washing machine connector hoses, as these seem to kink alot less than standard garden hoses, and I like the female to female connections better, because it is a bit simpler for me to try to standardize the connections a bit (male on pipe, female on hose). However, for this particular installation I ended up using a 12 foot piece of garden hose.

Completed Chicken Waterer with Rebar Stand

Completed Chicken Waterer with Rebar Stand

Zip-Tied to Rebar

Zip-Tied to Rebar

To make a stand for the waterer, I used three 4’ sections of rebar and just simple zip ties. It holds it firm, but it is still just wobbly enough to prevent the chickens from roosting on it. So far so good! It only took a couple days for all the chickens to get used to this. They seem to learn from each other. Also our free range turkeys seemed to learn how to use this from the chickens! They are a bit too tall, but they still seem to prefer this over their water bowl, or drinking from the pond. I will build a taller model for them.

Building a Dry Stone Fieldstone Wall

In this post, I will explain about my latest fieldstone wall project and how anyone with basic skills can build a rustic fieldstone wall!

Fieldstone Wall Project

Fieldstone Wall Project

The vegetable garden area of the farm is on a slope (an area maybe 50 feet x 70 feet) and one end was in dire need of a retaining wall. I had originally used some bales of straw I had lying around as a makeshift retaining wall. This actually worked pretty well for about two years until the straw really started rotting and the turkeys tore it apart. So the edges of the garden were spilling over and hard to maintain. So it was time to build something a bit more permanent.

In the vegetable garden the temporary retaining wall of straw bales has deterioriated

In the vegetable garden the temporary retaining wall of straw bales has deterioriated

So I decided on fieldstones for a number of reasons

  • Relatively easy to build
  • Doesn’t need a footing
  • Can find stones for free
  • Basically lasts forever
  • Does not leach any chemicals (I know new pressure treated lumber is supposed to be okay for gardens, but I am not chancing it)

First step was to locate some rocks. I had a small supply of rocks to start off, but I needed many more. I put an ad on Craigslist and sure enough, someone the next town over had tons (literally) to get rid of. Apparently the builders of their relatively new home had to dynamite out some ledge rock in order to put in the foundation (the owner told me he still finds pieces of blasting cord!). However, I guess they just dumped all the rock pieces in the back yard and put topsoil over it. Now, predictably these rocks are working through the soil and they want them gone. No problem! I made about 20 or 30 trips with my trailer hauling all these over.

Hauling loads of free stone found on Craigslist

Hauling loads of free stone found on Craigslist

The next step was to clean up the edge of the garden. My John Deere 2320 with a front loader cut a nice sharp edge for me to start the retaining wall. However, I still did a lot of shoveling.

Shaping the "retaining wall" side of the garden

Shaping the “retaining wall” side of the garden

Okay, now before people start going bananas on me, (and as I previously mentioned), I don’t dig a footing and here is why:

  • It’s a lot of work and I’m lazy! (primary reason)
  • This is a short wall (only 3 feet tall max, most of it is about 2 feet), slopes backwards, and is relatively thick (about 2 feet)
  • I don’t care about widening gaps due to frost heaves.
  • If a few stones fall out here or there, or even if the whole thing collapses it will be easy to fix.
  • I have built about 300 feet of wall like this previously. That has been standing for nearly 5 years and no sections have ever collapsed and only about three stones have popped out in all that time (easy to pop back in)
  • There is about 500 feet of stone wall on the farm dating back to the 1700 and 1800s. I am willing to bet the builders didn’t put a footing under these walls, yet they are still standing just fine!

So instead, I just dig down to good solid dirt (remove the leaves and loose topsoil) and start stacking. If you are planning on building a bigger wall, cannot tolerate any shifting of stones, or definitely if you plan on using pre-manufactured blocks, you are going to need a solid footing. Otherwise expect to frost heaves to start moving things around. A short, dry stone wall such as mine has some “give” and thus is much more forgiving.

So on to the construction process! It is really simple. First I separated out my stones

  • The largest, flattest stones should be saved for the top
  • The largest, roundest or irregular shaped stones should be on saved for the bottom
  • The smallest stones should be saved for the middle between the two wall courses (also called “hearting”)
  • Medium sized stones should be making up the bulk of the wall.

I build my wall as actually two separate stone walls next to each other, very similar to the diagram below.

Basic concepts of a double stone wall filled with "hearting" stone

Basic concepts of a double stone wall filled with “hearting” stone

I made sure the flattest and “best” face of each stone was facing outward. Stacking is relatively easy as they are stacked like bricks… “Two over one and one over two.” I would put down a course of larger rocks, and then literally pour smaller rocks from a five gallon bucket into the middle. You have to jigger these rocks around to ensure there are no air spaces. All the sharp angles of these rocks produced from the blasting effects really “bite” into each other and really help with the integrity. If I had baseball sized rocks, it would be a bit harder (but not impossible). For the section of the wall that was more for retaining (as opposed to free standing), I angled the wall backwards a bit as I worked upwards.

Wall project begins. The tractor was useful to ferry and sort rocks from the various piles

Wall project begins. The tractor was useful to ferry and sort rocks from the various piles

Close-up of basic wall construction

Close-up of basic wall construction

A few more courses on the wall, following the same method described

A few more courses on the wall, following the same method described

So, I continued like this.. oh……. for about two months until I had entirely circled the garden… leaving just enough space to get the tractor inside if needed.

More progress on the wall

More progress on the wall

Rounding a corner. Save some interesting looking stones for the corners as they naturally attract the eye

Rounding a corner. Save some interesting looking stones for the corners as they naturally attract the eye

For aesthetic purposes I bought a few pallets of flat Pennsylvania fieldstone for the very top course. This is not required at all, but gives the wall, a somewhat more finished look. If I was a millionaire, I could have built the entire wall out of Pennsylvania fieldstone, but it would have been at least $8,000 worth of stone! I got away with just buying 4 pallets for $800. But again, not really needed.

Finished wall with purchased Pennsylvania fieldstone as the top couple of layers. They add a nice finished look

Finished wall with purchased Pennsylvania fieldstone as the top couple of layers. They add a nice finished look

Another angle of complete wall

Another angle of complete wall

So in summary, I got about 200 feet of wall for about $4 dollars a foot (the cost of the fieldstone) and probably 200 hours of labor! Hey, the way I see it you can spend hours at the gym using a Nautilus machine for no purpose, or you can lift rocks in your backyard to the same effect, but make a useful wall that will last for centuries!

TD Bank: Fraudulent checks are unstoppable at America’s most inconvenient bank!

Well, unfortunately I had to end my association with TD Bank due to the fact they simply could not secure my account from fraudulent checks and provided absolutely deplorable customer service along the way. This is an interesting story that anyone with an account at TD Bank should read. You won’t find this on the TD Bank website I can assure you!

It all started in late April 2016 when I got called by TD Bank that someone may have accessed my account fraudulently. They instructed me to go to the local branch immediately. Prior to doing this, I logged into my online account and was quite surprised to see two checks that were clearing (or attempting to clear) that were ridiculously fraudulent. I mean, these were not even close to legitimate documents.

Ridiculously bad phony check #1. Can you believe TD Bank would cash this?

Ridiculously bad phony check #1. Can you believe TD Bank would cash this?

Ridiculously bad phony check #2.

Ridiculously bad phony check #2.

 

  • These checks did not in any way match the format of my old checks. These were just random checks reprinted with my account number.
  • The numbering was completely out of sequence both with each other, and my real checks
  • The return address is the Department of Health and Human Services in Nashua NH (not my address by a long shot)
  • The signature is not even close to my signature.

I was a bit surprised that TD Bank would cash such checks, but at any rate, I took the afternoon off and headed down to the bank. When I got there, I talked to someone in a side office who was very nice, but I quickly realized….. had absolutely no clue what to do. So, she had to get on the phone to call other offices (Security department, Fraud Dept.. all kinds of departments!). So, I sat there in her office for literally hours, while she called, waited on hold, called again, got transferred, was asked to print forms she couldn’t find, etc. It took all afternoon. Eventually, I opened up a brand new checking account and transferred my money there. TD did return the stolen money in a few days, but I had to sign some type of fraud affidavit, which was notarized at the bank. This was unfortunate, but things like this happen and I was willing to give TD bank another shot, as surely this was a one-time affair, especially now that TD was alerted to the issue.

So, I went home and spent the next few days re-routing all my direct deposits and linked accounts. Another couple hours of my time wasted, so much fun! And I had to pay for all new checks, so more money lost to this event.

Then, less than two weeks later TD Bank called again. Guess what! Another fraudulent check had arrived on my brand new account. This one really pissed me off. It was from the exact same return address as the last fraudulent checks, and it wasn’t even signed with my name. Who is “Josh Wilson”?  This really infuriated me! Is anyone at TD bank even looking at these checks? Isn’t there some type of mechanism to eyeball checks on an account that was just compromised?  I mean, how ridiculously fraudulent do these checks have to be before they won’t cash them? Could I just write an account number on a napkin and TD would cash it?

Bad Check 2016_05_11

Even more ridiculously phony check #3. I wonder how bad a check has to be before TD won’t cash it. This is ludicrous!

So, anyway, I took another afternoon off and headed down to the bank to spend another afternoon with the TD bank clerk (I got the same one, she must have been thrilled to see me walk in!). So, this time, I supposedly had a case worker assigned. However, after spending nearly an hour on the phone, it turns out we couldn’t figure out who it was. However, my TD bank clerk continued to call around various numbers to figure out what to do.

Now, before I opened a third account at TD Bank (which I was instructed to do), I asked “How is this happening and can you stop it?” The clerk parroted this back into the anonymous person on the phone… and after a second, just responded back “They don’t know”.

Okay… well, I’m sorry TD Bank. If you are telling me you are unable to prevent people from literally stealing my money, and basically that it is my problem… I need to find another bank.

At that point, I asked to withdraw all my money and close my three accounts. They half-heartedly tried to talk me out of it, but even one of the TD bank employees whispered  “I would close my here accounts too”. It would have been funny if it wasn’t my money! Some other person came in and said I had to pay 24 dollars to get three bank checks (one from each account), and he was sorry he couldn’t waive the fee!

Man, did this piss me off. You are telling me you are unable to stop people from stealing my money, and you are going to charge me to take it out? I suggested, transferring the money from two accounts to one, so at least I would only be charged 8 dollars for one bank check. The TD employee thought for a moment and said he could do that. I guess I am becoming a better banker than the TD employees by this point!

So after I got my bank check, the only remaining problem was the 945 dollars that was stolen. Once again, I filled out another affidavit. I was also instructed to get a police report in order to get my 900 dollars back. I asked where? TD somewhat rudely replied with “the police department”. Thanks, but my question was to I go here in Massachusetts (where the branch is) or in my home (New Hampshire) across state lines. They said, go to your home. Hmmm, well, I questioned if my tiny local PD has jurisdiction. They just replied.. “go there”. Okay, so I took another day off of work to mosey over to my local Police department. As I suspected, they did not want to fill out the report! So once again, TD bank had misdirected me.  However, by chance, there happened to be TD Branch in my town, and they did agree to fill out a report, after I begged them. This report is basically meaningless paperwork as no one is going to investigate a goddamn thing from New Hampshire and I don’t blame them! I gave this police report number to TD bank, and as of this posting.. still don’t have my stolen money and was instructed to (guess what), call some random 800 number . However, I am making good use of the time I am sitting on “hold” by typing up this blog post!

At any rate, I have opened up a new account at another bank. This new bank seemed to think that someone had hacked into my TD bank online account and that is how they got my new bank account information. They also explained that they verify the computer used to log in and this should not happen with them (We will see!). Also, I was able to get a higher interest rate too!

So in summary, I am not too happy with TD bank over these repeated incidents. It has become apparent to me, that my money being constantly stolen is just a tiny bit of overhead to them and this giant faceless corporation, with impotent local branch personnel have no concern over my time and anguish. So after 6 years of dealing with them, I am calling it a day. Good Luck TD! And to the rest of you… Watch your accounts! At least for me, TD Bank is America’s most inconvenient bank!

Build Your Own Simple Egg Washer

 

Assemble your parts to build your own egg washer

Assemble your parts to build your own egg washer

If you have a lot of chickens and you are tired of washing eggs by hand you might want to try to build your own egg washer. Most “egg washers” work on the principle of bubbling water over the eggs (without the need for detergents or manual scrubbing). You can purchase an egg washer online and there are several models to chose from. However, all of these seem to be modifications to 5 gallon buckets and they want to charge you over a hundred dollars! I have found a couple of designs to build your own on the web but many of them are very complicated with PVC pipe etc. I wanted to build a “quick and dirty” model that was easy and fast to put together. I figured if it works well, I might want to build something fancier later.

First I gathered the parts. I already had a pump I use for my pond that puts out a reasonable amount of air using ¾” ID lumen tubing. I got a length of clear vinyl tubing and a 5 gallon bucket/lid at Cheapo Depot and I decided to reuse the existing air diffuser. Also needed a couple of stainless steel pipe clamps to make sure it held together.

Drilling a 1" hole through the lid of the bucket

Drilling a 1″ hole through the lid of the bucket

I used a 1” spade bit to drill a hole through the center to fit the tubing.

Attaching the tubing to the pump and the diffuser with stainless steel pipe clamps

Attaching the tubing to the pump and the diffuser with stainless steel pipe clamps

I connected the pump and diffuser to the tubing with stainless steel pipe clamps

Egg washer assembled

Egg washer assembled

I filled it with plain water and eggs and got ready for my first test.

Homemade egg washer in action

Homemade egg washer in action

I think I had one cracked egg… which really caused the water to foam. However, after about 15 minutes.. the eggs were sparkling clean. All in all, this only cost me about 15 bucks to make (because I already had the pump). I would say before you purchase a $130 model online, you might want to try to build your own.. Just to see if you like it. This works great.. but just one more thing to clean and store! For small amount of eggs, it’s really just easier to wash by hand. Let me know how your project turns out.

Trump Sign Vandalized! Liberals Can’t Stand Free Speech!

Trump Sign Vandalized!

Trump Sign Vandalized!

As expected, tolerance for different viewpoints cannot be tolerated by the liberal elite! All voices of opposition must be silenced! In this case with a half-assed blue spray paint job on our Trump sign! If you can believe it, this miscreant actually defaced the sign on Easter at approximately 9:30pm! However, our security camera caught the perpetrator red handed (or should we say blue handed?). The Hampstead Police have been notified. Let us know if you have seen this individual. Check the Bernie rallies first!

Vandal Appears!

Spray Painting

Spray Painting

Ducking the Traffic!

Ducking the Traffic!

Close-up of the hoodlum

Close-up of the hoodlum

Islam in America: Is there a cause for concern?

Islam in America: Is there a cause for concern?

Is Islam compatible with American values? This is a very tough question that needs to be discussed in a fair and balanced way. However, due to the lack of objective journalism in the U.S. the issue is rarely discussed nor fairly analyzed. Instead we have only the two most extreme views presented by liberals and conservatives. These generally center around two the two extreme concepts that either Islam is a curse to America (e.g. Trump’s proposed ban on all Muslim’s entering the country) or the liberal view there is no problem at all, and you are a “Racist” for even considering otherwise.  As with most issues, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Since the media can’t be trusted to fairly explore this concept, I had to go to the source to find my data. Probably the best, least biased, and most comprehensive surveys on the views of worldwide Muslims was conducted in 2013 by the Pew Research Center.

I would encourage everyone interested in this topic to read the final report entitled:  The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics, and Society.

“This report examines the social and political views of Muslims around the world. It is based on public opinion surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center between 2008 and 2012 in a total of 39 countries and territories on three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe. Together, the surveys involved more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in 80-plus languages and dialects, covering every country that has more than 10 million Muslims except for a handful (including China, India, Saudi Arabia and Syria) where political sensitivities or security concerns prevented opinion research among Muslims.”

Reading through this report, there were some items that struck me as concerning:

  • There are huge groups of Muslims that want Sharia Law to be the “law of the land”. This is clearly incompatible with American values. There is one legal system for everyone here, and it is based on fairness, freedom, and equality. Can we say the same of Sharia?

    Muslim support for Sharia Law

    Muslim support for Sharia Law

  • As an extension of Sharia, there are huge groups of Muslims that feel stoning is an appropriate punishment for adultery. Let’s think about this. An adulterer (almost always woman by the way) is buried in a pit up to her neck and the entire village stands around and throws rocks at her until she is dead. Is this an appropriate punishment? Literally millions of Muslims feel it is.

    Muslim support for stoning adulterers to death.

    Muslim support for stoning adulterers to death.

  • There is a smaller minority, but still a shocking total number of Muslims that feel suicide bombing is “Often or Sometimes” justified in defense of Islam. Let’s take Egypt as an example. 29% of Muslims feel suicide bombing is justified. There are 80 Million Muslims in Egypt. Therefore there are 23 million people that think suicide bombing is “often or sometimes” justified. That is the nearly the population of Texas (25 million)!

    Muslims that feel suicide bombing is "often or sometimes" justified in support of Islam.

    Muslims that feel suicide bombing is “often or sometimes” justified in support of Islam.

  • The majority of Muslims seem to feel that homosexuality, drinking alcohol, and abortion are immoral. I wonder how liberals would react to Donald Trump saying this? He would fall under intense scrutiny, but somehow Muslims dont seem to fall under the same scrutiny when they judge these personal decisions as ‘immoral” without any comment by the media. I am not sure how compatible these views are with our free society.

    Muslim's views on Morality

    Muslim’s views on Morality

  • Huge groups of Muslims feel that woman should “obey their husbands.” This clearly runs afoul of our free and equal society. Again, if Donald Trump said this, universal condemnation would result. But again, this slips past quietly without much discussion when the topic of gender equality in Islam comes up.

    Muslim views on Women's Rights

    Muslim views on Women’s Rights

Now I cherry-picked some of the “worst” of this report, and I would encourage everyone to actually read this, as the overall report gives a bit more balanced view. For example, the majority of Muslims (but not all) feel Sharia should only apply to Muslims, etc. However I for one am not very interested in the majority, as it only takes very few suicide bombers to cause mayhem. This small, but exceedingly violent minority is cause for my concern along with the broader trends in less violent stances on issues incompatible with freedom in my view.

If we want to take queues from History, only about a third of U.S. citizens supported the war of Independence from Britain. The other two thirds were either against it or neutral. Yet this minority population was able to instigate a war across the entire continent and plunge all citizens (regardless of their stance) into its chaos. The same can be said of Nazi Germany, and also Imperial Japan during World War II. It didn’t matter that the vast majority of Germans were not Nazis…. The rest were plunged into the conflict with them, as the “neutrals” stood by idly. While I don’t think any reasonable person could consider that we are on the cusp of a war with Islam on U.S. soil, it is an interesting concept to consider how few radicals it takes to stir the pot with consequences for all

Why Liberals continue to ignore all these stances that are diametrically opposed to their liberal social agenda. This I will never understand. For me, I suppose the crux of the issue is this. Do Muslim’s come here to “be in America”, or do they come here to “be Americans.” If it is the latter, then I would expect them to adjust to our values (freedom, equality, and justice) and not the other way around. If they did adapt and assimilate, I don’t see an issue with Islam at all. The real questions is do they want to do this? Only time will tell.

Trump for President

Trump for President

Trump for President

Hi folks, the political season is in full swing, so we took some time this weekend to put up our sign in support of Trump! In anticipation of vandals, this years sign is up on ten foot posts. Most liberals don’t own ladders (as these are generally tools used for work, so are deemed unnecessary), so this should be some deterrence to defacement. The whole ensemble is accessorized by a two foot tall Trump head, that really makes it pop! This is undoubtedly the most ambitious Trump sign in all of Hampstead!

Pemigewasset Valley Fish & Game Club

Pemigewasset Valley Fish & Game Club

Pemigewasset Valley Fish & Game Club

Recently we had been looking for a new shooting range, as we were getting itchy to try out some new firearms and keep our marksmanship in top form. We used to shoot at Manchester Firing Line, but lately it has gotten far too crowded with too many “yahoos” firing off hand cannons, and the staff isn’t exactly friendly. Therefore the search was on for a new location! A Google search revealed to us Pemigewasset Valley Fish & Game Club in far away Holderness, NH. Sure it was a hike up the state from Southern NH, but we hoped it would be worth it.

The membership price was pretty reasonable, and they allowed us to join by mail. After receiving our ID badges and rule book via USPS, we were off for some target practice. Since we went in the middle of winter (and after a fresh snowfall, so I’m sure many were out snowmobiling) the place was pretty deserted. The indoor range looked nice from the outside, but our pre-arranged “guide” didn’t show, so we couldn’t get in.

The Indoor Range at Pemi Valley Fish and Game Club

The Indoor Range at Pemi Valley Fish and Game Club

Pemi 50 Yard Range 2016_02_19The 50 yard range was completely covered and was pretty decent. It is important to point out that you need to bring your own targets and stands as the range was nothing more than roof and a space. I saw a pile of half shot up stands in the corner, that seemed to be community property. However, it is easy enough to make your own out of some scrap 2X4 lumber. There were also a couple of brooms and barrels that encouraged you to sweep up your shells. The 200 yard range was uncovered and basically a field with a couple of benches at the end.

The 200 Yard Range

The 200 Yard Range

Homemade Target Stand

A Close-Up of our Homemade Target Stand. Two 2X4, some scrap and a handful of screws made a handy stand for under 10 bucks.

All in all, a good time was had by all, and we unloaded a few hundred rounds. This place is completely bare bones and no frills at all, but the price was right! Also, this type of club, far away from the knuckleheads in Massachusetts tends to keep the professionalism high (no idiots with AK-47s shooting all over the place). If you routinely head up to the lakes region, you might want to give Pemigewasset Valley Fish & Game Club a try.

The Indoor Range at Pemi Valley Fish and Game Club

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