Sunday, June 27, 2010
I went to bed last night with great plans for today. I was going to go down to the bridge and start weed-eating the brush. I have to do this about two times a year. Once in spring and again in the fall. Notice spring has come and gone and I haven't done it. So the weeds are getting pretty tall. It took us weeks to clear it when we first moved in. We had to cut small trees and clear blackberries. A labor intensive job. I don't want i to get like that again, so I have to keep it up. Working full time at the library makes it difficult to find the time. We have had a lot of visitors and now it is so incredibly hot, so I haven't been able to get to it.
We bought a brush mower to help the first year. It was big and powerful and could cut through anything under two inches in diameter. Unfortunately it was also way too heavy, even for Lee. It wanted to run downhill when you were on a slope....and most EVERYTHING is on a slope around here! You had to wrestle with it on anything other than a flat surface and those we could get with the Bush Hog attachment to the tractor. I managed to get a lot of the brush cut, but it came at the expense of very sore muscles. I started to wake up with tingling hands, as though they had gone to sleep and it took some time to get them to feeling normal again. So we have gone back to the weed eater and clippers and loppers. I may get a weed eater on wheels, but after the disaster of the brush mower, I am afraid to put out the money. Roughly $400 to get a good one.
It was in the 80's when it was 8:00 this morning. Not a good start for a day of outside labor. So I chickened out and I am writing this instead. Sure, I can pretend this is work, but I still have to get to the driveway and I am not looking forward to it. We have worked in some terrible heat, but this is the worst ever. It is not just my opinion. This year has been the coldest winter and the hottest summer for years.
So, instead I am going to tell you about an experiment I am running. Libby has a terrible time with flies. If she is out without a fly mask, her eyes swell up something terrible. I always keep her in a fly mask during the day in hot weather. I used to do the same for Claire, but lately I can't find one that doesn't rub her raw. The one from last year that worked fine, gave her a raw spot this year. I thought maybe the accumulation of her hair on the fabric around the edges was causing the problem, so I washed it as well as can be done with soap and brushes in the barn. It still rubbed. I bought her a different mask and more sores. So I have just been putting a lot of Repel-X on a cloth and rubbing it around her face. It was OK, but not a perfect solution.
I needed to order some more Repel-X, so I went to Horse.com , the site I usually use to order horse related items. They carry an item that I have often wondered about. It is called Equi-Spot. It is a small vial of liquid fly repellent. It works like flea and tick repellent for dogs and cats. You squeeze out some under their forelock, along their neck and back and the backs of all four legs. It is supposed to keep the flies off them for two weeks.
I put the Equi-Spot on as directed on June 19th. So far, I would say it is a success. I can see a few flies around them, but they are not covered as they have been. I am concerned as I have heard some reports from people that have used it successfully for awhile and then they developed a reaction of some sort and lost hair where it was supplied. So I will keep a close eye on them and see if it works as advertised.
Another thing we did to control insects, including flies, is we mowed the fields down a bit. There are spots where they won't eat and weeds they won't touch. When grass gets high and woody, horses prefer the short tender new growth. The dense, high grass contributes to the humidity in their pasture. It is also a lovely spot for ticks to wait for the unwary. Horses will not eat where they have defecated, so those spots are left to grow unchecked. So we try to mow down the high uneaten growth to make new spots for grazing. It also spreads the manure around and breaks it up. We switch fields when we do this and wait for quite a bit of rain to replenish the now fertilized grass. It seems to work for us. They have good grass clear until the snows come, when we have to start feeding in the morning.