A quiet Christmas, with Deadlines…

A quiet Christmas, with Deadlines…

When I got the idea to milk other people’s sheep, I created a lot or problems for myself. One is that sheep get ill and when they are taking certain veterinary drugs (antibiotics, wormers, etc) they cannot be milked for a given ‘withdrawal period’. How to easily tell which sheep must not be milked without bothering the farmer?

Luckily all sheep in the UK now have electronic tags in their ears. There is a very expensive animal tag reader that links to a very expensive database. Worst of all, the database isn’t structured to help solve my problem.

My solution – do it myself. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months putting together a few open source hardware boards to make an electronic animal tag reader. It talks to a database that I’ve designed to run on my iPhone. It has been VERY fun, but all good things have a deadline and I’d been a bit complacent over getting the database tidied up and the electronics fitted into a nice waterproof box. Between 24th December and 2nd of January, that all changed…


This was very fun – the dreaming stage – just designing and playing.

Then Tara told me that they were scanning their Ewes on 2nd January 2016. Great opportunity to test out my portable system. (Yikes!)

So I went from the breadboard stage (above) to getting it into the box. It was a much tighter fit than I’d hoped. Thank goodness for electrical tape.


But of course, the other tight fit is in the cabin. Mike always yells at me for soldering on our chopping board. I call this ‘from breadboard to breadboard’. Date: 1st January, guilty as charged.


And luckily I made the deadline. There are the Closewool girls, lining up to get their ultrasound scans. Pen to the left is the ‘barreners’. The lucky girls that get to meet their boyfriends one more time.



That’s me, reading their ear tags. It went VERY well! More design on the box needed, and found out my clever idea for a light portable battery means I needed to literally touch the tag to get a reading. Buying a bigger, heavier battery pack tomorrow. Still, I managed to read 265 out of 268 tags into a database. What happened to the other 3? Don’t know.



A very successful experiment. And no, I haven’t forgotten we are still building a house. We’re getting underfloor heating installed on the first floor this week!

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