Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Right about the time that the winter weather begins to shift and the sun begins to shine a little longer in the sky, I think nothing can ruin the happiness that I feel that spring is coming. And then comes that buzzing reminder that when the warmth kicks in, so do the flies. Mood officially ruined.
For those of us that live with livestock, flies are a common part of three out of four seasons. Even for the city lot urban farmers like myself, we must deal with these pesky beasts and do what we can to limit their nuisance for ourselves and the animals we keep. Last year the whole town was plagued with flies and I was a basket full of crankiness
I started my battle a little late in the season to do any real damage control. This year I’m starting early and stopping them before they strike. If this sounds melodramatic to you then you must not have a fly problem. Go you.
Here is a list of my top 5 fly solutions:
• Order Fly Predators. I get ours from Hoegger though I’m sure you can get them direct. I like Hoegger because I can get them delivered on a regular basis. That means no forgetting to order my monthly supply and dealing with the repercussions of fly larvae gone wild. The best place to start control is to get them before they reach the actual flying stage.
• Muck the barn out every day. I mean every day. What this means for me personally is that after every milking, I clean out all the wet bedding and scoop the poop. It goes right into the compost bin. I realize that for larger farms with more animals this would look differently but for my little farm, this task can make a big impact.
• Set up traps. I use three different kinds. One homemade, two store bought. For the homemade trap, you need a gallon size clear water jug with the top cut off (set aside the top), an aluminum pie pan, some craft wire and a few buttons. With the open side down, poke three or four holes in the bottom and attach the wire through making it into a sturdy hanging loop (see photo). Remove the cap from the cut off top and turn it inward (cap side facing up) back inside the water bottle, and either staple or duct tape back together. Poke holes through the sides near the edges of the new bottom, and through the bottom of the pie plate where the holes line up. Use your wire to attach the pie plate to the water bottle and string the wire through the buttons to your desired length. Hang your fly trap anywhere flies are an issue. Put an attractant in the pie plate, such as leftover dinner, or some barnyard muck. When the flies land on the pie plate to feed, the idea is that they fly straight up into the water bottle and can’t figure out how to get out. it's not the most attractive solution but it uses common things you most likely have lying around the house. I also hang Rescue Fly Traps and Sticky Tape all over the place to up my chances of trapping the buggers.
• Make your own Fly Spray to spray the animals, the doorways, and yourself. Here’s my recipe. Combine in a 32 oz spray bottle: 12 oz of filtered water, 6 oz of Apple Cider Vinegar, 18 drops of Citronella, 15 drops each of Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, and Spearmint, 10 drops of Geranium, 5 drops each of Lavender and Lemongrass, and 3 drops each of Tea Tree and Peppermint. Shake well before each use.
Good ol’ fashioned Fly Swatters. These are usually my best defense in the house. I go through 5 to 10 every season. I catch them in the evening when they’re settled and less likely to be as active.
I have high expectations for my Preventive measures this year and hope that the actual fly population that I have to combat will be slim.
Do you have any tried and true solutions that work best for you? I’d love to hear about them!