Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bored of the Flies

August 12, 2009

Manure happens. Livestock begets manure, and manure begets flies. Last year and the year before we used the parasitic wasps. They come in a little box looking like black rice nestled in shavings. The directions say to watch closely and when the first one hatches you promptly spread it over your manured areas. The wasps hatch and eat all the fly larvae.

We had our own technique. We would leave them on the kitchen table and forget about them until they all hatched and began to drift around our kitchen like little bittie snowflakes. Every time that would happen we would look up and say hmmmmm....what are those things ? Seems we retain less and less these days.

Amazingly, they seemed to work in the barn too, but there was no way to measure this. We discussed some kind of automatic counter that the flies would march past, perhaps a mini subway gate, but being flies they chose to be non-compliant with this.

So instead, we measure flies on the most reliable FISH scale (Farmwife Is Swearing Heavily) . If the flies are bad, well...I'm a little irritable. I once slapped a fly on my forehead hard enough to back flip my rotund self in front of the milkman. He hid in his truck untill the milk tank was empty.

This year we decided to skip the wasps and see if it made any real difference. Overall the fly population seems less. We have had good luck with two products. The first is Crystal Creeks No Fly liquid concentrate. Made of alcohol, water and coconut oil, it lends a tropical aire to the livestock. It works great on humans too. We keep a large spray bottle in the milk parlor and I keep one by the calf hutches. The other rocket science item is the old fashioned Fly Strip. We hang small ones here and there and have a very large roller type fly strip that winds through the pump room and into the milk parlor.

The best fly deterent though, has to be our poultry. Between the peacocks, the chickens and the ducks we have had many less flies and bugs overall in the garden and in the house. (NO, you dweebs, I do not keep a peacock in the kitchen, but they wander around the perimeter of the house all day, so when we go in and out there are less pests crossing the border with me.) Hey you other organic dairy farmers, what works for you ?

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