A much different horizon here tonight.
I love the way the sunsets butter the paddock and the woods around eight o’clock.
Paco: “Sure … you don’t have to stay out here for the mosquito hour!”
Speaking of bugs … I’m onto another brilliant plan for battling the biting flies.
In the afternoons I set myself up on this bench with a brush and a hoof pick. I work away at each of the donkeys – soothing them with a good whole body scratch – sneaking in a good cleaning of each hoof – finishing up with a thorough brushing of their shedding coats. As I sat there today I realized the tarp behind me was full of angry biters.
They get caught at the top of the tarp. At first I was a bit squeamish … but I soon realized I could walk down the fence line and squish whatever was caught there. Hmmm… when I looked up to where the other three donkeys were eating and dancing around trying to kick away the flies I got thinking. Aha! Hence – strategy #5 (behind; zappers, fans, repellent spray, and barn sprayers) – the bug capture fence. And it works. I put up a large tarp first to try it out. It was draped over the fence section that the feeder bins are clipped to. Within half an hour there were six LARGE horse flies buzzing in the trap (folded at the top). So … we improved on it by setting up a wall of screening (from an old screen tent) topped by a fold of clear plastic. The flies get attracted to the screen wall – or caught by it when they fly in that direction. For some reason they then stay buzzing at it instead of trying to fly away. Eventually they buzz ‘up’ to the top and are stranded – for ever – in the fold!
The screen allows the donkeys to see through to each other and lets the breeze through.
I’m always keen to find ways to win the biting fly battle without chemicals.
As the sun goes down the mosquitoes have their run of the paddock. I leave the zapper on for the first hour of darkness and then I slip out to unplug it. Usually I find the herd are in either of the barns – standing in front of the fans – waiting for the mosquitoes to disappear. (Notice the nice fresh fluffy wood shavings? Thank you to Mike Dellioss!) Then they head up into the woods and enjoy an evening of munching and sitting under the night sky. I’m sure all kinds of magical things happen between when the stars come out and the sun comes up … I’ll have to sneak out some night to catch them dancing by the light of the moon!