Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fly Control

We have a multi-pronged approach to fly control here.  Earlier in the summer, the animals were miserable with hordes of flies holding conventions around their eyes.  I spray the horses with Endure (the best-working spray I've found), but Sara is scared of the spray bottle.

So right now, we're trying scaring the flies with bizarre hair-dos on the horses!
I wish!  The first part of our approach is mixing DE (diatomaceous earth) in the animals' feed.  Not only does it kill internal parasites, but it is purported to reduce or eliminate flies breeding in the manure by killing the larvae (I hate that nasty M-word!)
Here is Sara, eagerly trotting over to get her feed.  (Remember those horns as you read the next post.)
Here she is eagerly licking up every last bit of feed and DE--and some that she imagines is there!  Earlier in the summer, she could hardly eat for tossing her head back to get the flies off her shoulders.  It bugged me (sorry!) no end that I couldn't do anything to give her relief.
The next part of our fly-control is following a recommendation we got at the Co-op: Give the animals a salt block that's impregnated with sulfur.  Sulfur supposedly makes them taste bad to the flies!  It also looks pretty in the field!  :)
The third prong of our fly control involves hanging a canvas bag with an insecticide inside.  (Say that five times fast!)  This is not "natural," but we were willing to try anything to give the animals relief.  We hung it in an area of shade where they like to rest, but they don't graze there.  So far, we only see signs of horse manure there, so we imagine that Sara doesn't feel comfortable enough with her field-mates to hang out that closely.  And since we're not planning to eat the horses, we don't mind some chemical insecticide on them!

Up near the house I've set up a birthday present from a farm-girl friend who gave me a fly trap among other goodies.  It involves emptying a tube of really smelly bait (think of rotting meat) into the bottom of a plastic bottle, adding some water, and setting it outside.  It really does work, although it's not for inside use unless you like your kitchen smelling of rotten meat!
We have another method on trial up at the barn.  This involves a roll of sticky white 1/4" wide tape that we stretch about six feet above the ground.  We learned this tip at Roland Vaughan's Redhill Valley Dexter farm in Cleveland, TN.  It seems that flies like to roost!  Who knew?  So they alight on this light-colored "wire" and can't resist sticking around permanently!  We've also caught a wasp or two, which makes us like the idea even better.  And we caught a couple of small feathers, but apparently the birds escaped.

Next spring we hope to implement a final prong to our fly control--and a very natural one.  Who wouldn't love a fly-devouring creature that also laid eggs and looked picturesque?  We learned this trick at Warren and Sally Coad's Freedom Farms Dexter farm in Philadelphia, TN.  They raise Muscovy ducks which just live to eat flies.  Now that's an animal any farmer can love!  We're waiting til next spring because the younger ducks eat more, so they should be growing and hungry when fly season arrives.

Flies, beware!  Zephyr Hill farm is out to get you, one way or another!

1 comment:

  1. Kim Newswanger, via email: Don't let Sara fool you about the fly spray. I've sprayed her plenty of times-it just usually requires her having her nose in the feed trough. I've been using a natural fly repellant spray for a few years now, and when the cows come in the parlor for their treat, I groom & spray while they eat.


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