And they have arrived! Blackfly season 2017 is officially ‘on’. I count Day One as the day they start biting in earnest. Yesterday … they were still mostly just flying. Today … they are mostly biting. The jennies have their system all figured out. If there is a north wind then they are out – face to the breeze – eating away. If there is not much of a breeze, or it is from the west or east, they are ensconced in their barns. I’m so glad I have managed to wash the winter dust out of the way and that we’ve reset the fans and bug repellent sprayers. The girls are pretty cozy in there. It is cool. There are hay bags. The doors are open (just with sheets hung as screens). All three of them are very cooperative when I apply bug cream inside their ears and spray and brush bug repellent into their coats and under their bellies. Such is the life of a northern donkey.
Bug season lasts here right through to the end of August. Our first wave is the blackflies. They’ll be thick well into late June. By then the mosquitoes will have started. June can be very miserable that way. I already heard a news story about two moose being chased out onto a highway near Ottawa because the flies were so thick in the forest. By July and August we get some days that burn the mosquitoes off. This year we’re thinning out the woods on the hillside to allow for more of a breeze and perhaps less hiding room for the mozzies. As the hot days arrive in June so do the deer flies and the horse flies. I rank this season right up there with those polar vortex days in January as some of the most uncomfortable for the donkeys – and us! If you are not from this area of the world you might find this Algonquin Park website interesting to read to get a ‘feel’ for the bug life!
Our best defences are light coloured clothing, bug creams and sprays, hats and working with the wind or rain or both! 😉 The jennies spend buggy days in their barns and then a few hours after dark head outside to enjoy a bug free night. By dawn they are back looking for shelter. I try to make sure I get each of them brushed and rubbed down twice a day to relieve some of their itchiness. The bug cream seems to also soothe any blackfly bites that they do get inside the tips of their ears.
My ‘backside’ is improving each day. Phew! When I tipped the Bully (Jeep) I ended up dumping the contents of the Guinea coop alongside the trail that joins our two paddocks. I had locked the jennies in the front paddock so they wouldn’t try to eat it while I cleaned. Ha! Best laid plans and all that … Every time a wind came up today the girls high tailed it out of the barn and headed to their new favourite snacking spot! I sure hope there isn’t something in there that is going to cause them problems. They are licking up every little bit they can find. I did notice that the Morning Doves were gathering there too. There must be enough crumble and millet to make it all seem delicious.
The Guineas meanwhile are safely tucked into their coop or their run. They decided today was not the day they were going to explore the big wide world. In fact … I watched a rather comical encounter when a cloud of blackflies arrived around the Guinea’s heads. I was standing nearby swatting my own cloud and wondering if the flies would ‘attack’ the Guineas the way they do the donkeys … and me … Sure enough, each Guinea had a small group of them flitting around their noggins. It seemed that as I was watching they each became aware. I swear it looked like they were going crosseyed trying to see what those flying spots were … I just need to find a way to convince the Guineas that those flies are tasty! 😉