Be An Unwelcome Home for Flies

Ebook excerpt from SlowMoneyFarm.

barnFlies aren’t welcome in barns, paddocks, homes and other areas we like to be. So why do so many provide for them? Take steps now to discourage and evict them!

There are many ways to kill and repel flies. Flies need – like all things – favorable conditions to live, food and water. And not much of the latter! They cause problems with hygiene and can harm production of animals. They’ll bite sores on dogs ears and infest live animals with maggots, given the right conditions. Flies get no mercy – and often a several prong approach is used in fighting them.

Livestock producers often offer “fly blocks” – in blocks like the familiar 50 pound salt block these blocks are fed to animals and discourage flies. Horse owners have daily supplements available to feed the animal as well with their regular food.

Some swear by a bag of water with a penny in it suspended in a doorway – and another method herd was suspending a bundle of stinging nettles from doorways. For those preferring not to bump into nettles there’s many other options. Some recommend adding apple cider vinegar to livestock tanks. Vanilla added to rabbit water bottles can help cut flies down.

There’s various assortments of sticky traps – fly ribbons as well as tubes and an assortment of other shapes to hang around the buildings and flies stick to the surface when they land there. There are electric fly zappers which can bother especially horses when a fly hits it and they hear the snap like an electric fencer.

There’s fly predators – which allow the flies to live but feed on the larvae. Reportedly this is the option at a place that could have a large swarm of flies – the Kentucky Horse Park. This is a place that must be fly free for comfort of horses and the guests visiting.

Another option for smaller barns is a gadget which hangs on the wall and periodically gives a spray of fly spray. A larger adaptation is automatic fly sprayers – where a large barrel has tubes running to each stall throughout the barn and with use of a timer sprays the barn several times a day. A mist is sprayed on each stall at a set time. This is convenient and when it works effortlessness. Some don’t like the idea of fly spray falling onto the ground and the feed that might be in the stall. A wide range of fly sprays are available also for use on individual animals.

Fly rubs – a large round cloth hung between two poles – can be soaked in fly chemicals where cattle go under it and treat themselves when it wipes some fly spray on them. Mixing up and applying fly spray to a group of animals is another means of fly control.

Still another means of flies involve the use of traps – generally a plastic gadget with foul smelling attractant in it and water – the fly gets in and can’t get out. Some are disposable “trap n toss” while others can be rinsed out, replacement attractant purchased and a fresh batch put out when the trap is full. These are effective but smell bad – effective for turnout paddocks (out of reach of horses) or loafing sheds.

Fly baits are another choice. Generally a bright blue or yellow these are spread around or set in some kind of container where flies can get into it. One that is cheap – take a 2 liter soda bottle. Cut several small holes in it for flies to get in/out of. Put your bait in it and hang up out of reach of pets, children and other animals. Small holes allow flies in/out but don’t allow birds access to it. Like any poisons great care should be taken handling this bait – it is foul smelling but in combination with other factors works!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s other means of fly control that take nothing but time. Wash horse and livestock water tanks on a weekly basis in warm weather. Not just filling – get a little $1 scrubber at a dollar store and scrub it out, dump it and rinse. Buckets in stalls should also be washed out. Rinse thoroughly and refill.

Pick up manure in paddocks and keep manure picked up around other species. The less manure standing around the less likely flies are to be around. Some recommend the use of lime under rabbit cages and other places that sometimes aren’t easily cleaned. Trays under rabbit cages should be emptied, rinsed and refilled often. Clean up old wet feed and hay – haul to the compost pile or mix in the manure pile. Move the manure pile further from the barn – something that helps not only with flies but as a fire issue also.

For animals that sweat give them an occasional hose down – removing dirt and sweat removes a reason for flies to pester your animals.

Fly control can be expensive but in using preventative measures where possible it makes the maximum use of what you do have to buy. A combination works best for most – perhaps good management combined with sticky traps, traps and bait. For outdoor or sheltered situations this is the most effective option. Fly blocks are effective for those with larger animals.

Fly control need not be expensive – but needs to be done on small homesteads as well as larger farms.

food wars & labels

HSUS and animal rights advocates vs McDonalds and other restaurants. Organic vs non-organic (at least not certified). “Profood” vs practices they don’t approve of (including acknowledgment not all can afford certified organic). Large farm vs small farm. With the number of food wars happening it’s becoming a wonder there’s food on the store shelves. Food is a political battleground. From heated discussion that could pasteurize raw milk (one debate) to “proper” care everyone wants a say and in a world of choices should have a say! Whether you grow it yourself, buy direct or just shop at the store food is personal.

I was reading the McDonald’s article about rejecting cage free eggs and continuing to buy battery eggs and it struck me that do they advertise that? I mean when looking for eggs is being in cages a qualification? How about this radical idea – QUALITY and PRICE dictates purchases?! Most people, I’m guessing, eat at McDonalds not for the five star cuisine. It’s for the price – something quick, inexpensive and they’re hungry…probably will not give much thought where the egg on he egg mcmuffin was laid. Just reality folks!

However, many do give a little more thought when it comes time to prepare foods at home. How long will it last in the fridge? Does it look and taste good? Is it safe to eat? Many go beyond this. They do care how the chickens were raised and where the pig that become sausage lived. They might still buy that sausage egg biscuit (or fix it at home!) but when they sit down to Sunday dinner they know their money supports farmers being able to do the same. Their food isn’t necessarily certified organic but they know and trust the farmer. These people are willing to pay a little more to insure that their food was raised according to their ideals. Some may call that food elitists and perhaps it can be. I call it CHOICE.

The problem comes when that choice is pushed to eliminate other choices for people who can’t afford the higher cost. The economy will rebound faster when money is spent in the communities. The direct purchase of food or growing it yourself is one of the major perks of rural living. You don’t need a cow if a trusted farmer will sell you beef and milk. You don’t need pigs if someone will raise it for you. This allows you to make the most of what you do have while financially supporting others.

This can come to trust. Do you trust DownTheRoad Farms or the volume of processors for Smithfield? Both deliver an edible, nutritious product – probably at a comparable price. The difference is how it got to your plate. Currently demand for testing and food safety has pressed for additional regulation that will hit small butchers hard enough to end their businesses. Without being able to afford unnecessary(but required) testing they will have to close. If you enjoy purchasing direct this affects your choice as they won’t be there to process your meats. Major packers can better afford this – do you want that your only choice?

Food is personal. Quality, quantity and affordability matter. Get informed and make decisions then support those decisions financially! It is the fastest way to induce change. If there is enough people buying cage free vs conventional and the money shifts production will too! Demand dictates what is produced. Demand created what we have now – abundant food at a relatively low cost held in a large market share by a few companies. Want a change? Finance it! Grow it! Make a difference starting today!

Cage free by choice or by legislation?

For many people the idea of living the country dream is out of town, a few chickens for fresh eggs. We find the eggs are fresher and, without confinement of some sort, the risks greater as everything it seems wants to eat chicken.When a dog, coyote or coon kills your chickens you have no more eggs! This is why for protection many are kept confined at least at night.

While it’s a low input way of providing food for the table, when we keep chickens it’s typically for a family, or perhaps to sell the extra. We don’t want to feed hundreds of people or supply the restaurants…although there are many people without chickens who still want eggs. This means someone has to raise the chickens. For reasons of labor, feed efficiency and protection this meant a move to cages in a confinement system. We have a choice what to eat – the lower cost of the “big farm” eggs or free range or our own.

Groups such as the Humane Society of the United States aren’t happy with allowing choice and want to legislate no cages. It sounds great right? Chickens need to scratch the ground, we’re told, and indeed they seem quite happy doing that! The problem with it is, unlike the automated system that the egg rolls to the front off the cage, chickens in a pen you have to hunt for their eggs – then wonder if it’s really fresh or is it one you missed (and for how long)? When shipping eggs to other people this is unacceptable.

We’re told to look to the Europeans as Germany banned cages. All cage free. Yes indeed how is that working? “In February 2010, the average price of eggs was 11 percent higher than one year ago. The price of consumption eggs has risen notably in recent months. This is predominantly caused by increased exports to Germany.”

11% in a month…ok perhaps not too bad. Those $2 eggs are now $2.22 – a quarter for the chickens right? Not exactly. The above link shows more. “Dutch exports of consumption eggs to Germany grew by over 2 billion to nearly 7.5 billion. If exports increase, prices go up and occasionally Dutch consumers were faced with empty supermarket shelves. The shortage of eggs in Germany was the direct result of a ban on battery cages introduced on 1 January 2010. As battery cages were dismantled, the egg-production process stalled. In the Netherlands and the rest of the European Union, the ban on battery cages will take effect from 1 January 2012.”

Not only the price of eggs is affected. Everything with eggs in it also is faced with higher costs if not shortages.

Now..bring that to America. For the next week do this – look at everything you eat that has eggs in it. From the meatloaf to the sausage egg biscuit to the cupcake for dessert. Look at right now the demand for Easter eggs – hard boiled that make wonderful snacks or eggs Benedict. Bread. Look at labels. We don’t have, normally food shortages here. Take half of those foods away.

What will you eat? Where will you get it? The last couple of years chick demand has been high with many hatcheries listing breeds/varieties as unavailable due to demand. Without planning now there are not enough young birds to fulfill the demand. Places like Slow Money Farm, CSA’s and other ideas won’t exist if not supported now to be growing into demand and, even at that, there’s only so much most want to do. Again – one coyote getting into a field, one loose dog and their chickens are gone too.

Think for a minute about your food! It’s too important to take for granted!

it takes all kinds of farmers

There  is such an unnecessary division in agriculture. It’s such a diverse industry there’s small vs large farmers and family vs industrial then there’s “only what we believe” vs “everyone else” – and consumers just want food.

Wendell Berry once made a comment about food being too important to be a weapon. Yet here we are decades later and that is exactly what it’s come to.

Advocate purists say only organic or local or small farm (without saying what a small farm is!). They actively rail against larger farms without regard to their customers are a totally different market. We all eat – that’s a no brainer.

In working to set up a farm that caters to what many Twitter consumers say they want it fits with many personal ideas already. It uses ‘responsible’ methods, heritage and heirloom seeds and livestock (many seeds are organic), it allows for knowing where the food was grown and, with web cam transmission and other videos it allows absolute transparency. There’s a price that comes with that and yet talking about money brought a furious attack of being money orientated over everything else. Actually it’s being realistic – land costs money! The bigger questions come up – in talking with several people they love the idea – but  can’t afford it. Feedback from out of the area brings the same comments – great idea…I can’t afford it but great idea!

Knowing full well this is a specialty market for under 40 people it doesn’t seem possible to deliver for what the market can afford no matter how much food is delivered. No matter the principles behind it – those who can’t afford it simply can’t afford it.

OK so we take out the large farms. We eliminate all who don’t think on this  level – what do those people eat? They can’t afford to buy food from custom places. There isn’t food (bulk produced) at the store so what is their option? This has not yet brought a single clear answer – it’s just seen as saying small farms don’t work. NOT what I said! They can and do work – and better as our nation is much more rural than city!

But the question remains – if they can’t afford $700 or $1500 or $5,000 for a custom raised situation what do they eat? Especially if not having room for year round raising of food themselves?

Options are wonderful! Many move to the country to raise what they can and barter for what they can’t. But what about  those who can’t afford it? It seems that even though maybe it’s not ideal by many standards that volume produced food, processed or HFCS or whatever, is better than going hungry.

When you go 3-4 days without eating because you  can’t afford food it changes a great deal of perspective. We need large farms and small. We need volume as well as choices. There is no excuse for anyone going hungry in America and yet due to legislation, regulation and fear of lawsuits produce and milk is better dumped than given to the hungry.

Things have to change. Forcing people to go hungry isn’t the way to do it. Those clamoring for change put the $$ up and make it change!