Robots, Chickens, and Ducks

Captured by my predator sensing robot camera herding ducks and chickens into their coop.

Since the start of Mezzacello there have been chickens and rabbits integrated into the system. That was my original plan all along. Later I expanded to include robots, chickens, and ducks.

I came across this photo on the cloud from March 21, 2019. It was captured by a motion and heat sensing camera mounted on the water tank in my chicken run. The system also included a hacked Arduino controller that used IFTT architecture to send the photo to my phone.

Yes, I captured my own self herding poultry with an automated sensor. But the other thing this photo shoes is my ignorance about bird flu and sanitation. My Robot Chicken sensor caught me in the poultry area without boots.

While this is a fun early example of my push to leverage automation, robots, sensors, and data in my urban farm. It is also an indictment of my naivety and the fact that one should always be learning, improving, adapting. I am sure I was just securing chickens so I could go to work, but I am NOT wearing wellingtons.

Breaking Barriers and Rules

The cases of Avian Flu are on the rise in the US in 2022, but is not yet in Ohio. This kind of silly reckless behavior is exactly why it is on the rise though. I want to believe I sterilized my shoes after, but truth is I don’t remember and that is bird flu spreads.

There is no direct evidence that the strain of avian flu prevalent right now out west is transmissible to humans, we did just go through a pandemic. Honestly, this is not about the humans, but the birds. I developed all of this tech to keep these vital members of my ecosystems safe.

Flash forward to today and I always sterilize my boots and shoes. I have gotten sick, my fault, for this mistake. This simple mistake is also responsible for killing millions of birds and is why I have three sterilizing stations and four sinks at Mezzacello.

Sanitation stations at Mezzacello

Hand washing Station Hand washing sinks

Sanitizer Station Hand sanitizer station

Boots Washing Station Boot sanitizing station

Boots Only Icon Boots Only Area

Why Boots are a Requirement at Summer Camps

Last summer, I hosted two summer camps at Mezzacello. I rotated groups of four kids through the BioTech portion of the camps. Only students who could fit into my boots, or brought their own could be part of the biotech team.

There were a lot of bummed out kids who could not interact with the animals safely. That was a learning moment for me. And a teachable moment for those kids.

Jim Bruner

In this summer’s camps, EVERY kid will be required to wear sterilizable boots. It is a necessity and it is the Law here at Mezzacello. Live and learn it may be, but adapt and thrive is a better mission.

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