Ahhhhhh, life in the country...
idyllic, bucolic, peaceful...
filled with breathtaking sunsets, gentle breezes,
predators, pestilence, parasites and Poising Ivy!!
It seems we are always engaged in hand to hand combat
with some form of pest.
Life would be so much easier if we weren't committed to
farming without the use of chemicals.
Apple scab, Japanese beetles, hornworms, tent caterpillars,
aphids and others to many to name,
are all unwelcome guests in our gardens.
We are constantly dealing with black flies, deer flies,
horseflies, and mosquitos,
not to mention lice,
for the sake of our dear critters.
Although we practice organic farming,
we do resort to medical treatments for parasites in our critters.
We Frontline our dogs and use Heartworm preventative.
We check fecal samples from our horses and goats
and use anti-helmetics when necessary.
This year, a new parasite has landed on Bee Haven Acres.
The equine Bot fly!
Just the word bot fly sends chills down my spine...
but, these are not the Human botflies
that are indigenous to the tropics.
This past weekend we had a visit from our dear friends
Ann and Tim...
(they are our friends with that beautiful black Friesian horse
who often visits our farm.)
Well, during that visit, Ann mentioned that the barn
that her horse is boarded in has bot flies.
That sounded horrible!
Curious, I asked her about them.
And then I did a little research....
Bot flies look a little like a bee, a bit smaller than a honeybee.
What is striking, when you see them flying,
is how they carry their tail...
hanging down from their abdomen.
Well, these nasty little creatures lay their eggs
on the front legs and chest of the horses.
Here is a picture of some on Red, one of the minis:
They are tiny yellow eggs that you see here on the end
of hair shafts...no bigger than half the size of a pin head.
The horses, when rubbing their legs with their nose,
will ingest the eggs.
The eggs then travel into the horse's intestines
where they complete their life cycle.
The developing larvae cause irritation and ulceration
of the lining of the intestines.
Unfortunately, they do not test positive in fecal samples until
they complete their life cycle and move out of the
intestines...10 to 12 months later.
Removing the bot eggs is difficult and requires a blade or knife.
Still, it is impossible to tell if you have removed all of them.
So it is recommended that you treat with Ivermectin or something like it
in the fall, after a couple of freezes (freezes get rid of the egg-laying bots).
Consult your vet if you find these tiny yellow eggs.
Personally, this all grosses me out!
But, dealing with these issues is a part of country life.
So we learn to take the good
Oh, and before I finish, I must tell you what else I have learned...
Always, always, always wash (shower)
immediately after a poison ivy exposure.
Yes, I though I was invincible.
Funny, too, because I have had a new case of poison ivy
every two weeks this summer
(thank you Oakley...who runs through the woods
and brings the oils home on his coat).
This time was different, though.
While pulling weeds, I realized that I might have pulled
out a poison ivy vine.
Did I shower right away?
Did I get a rash?
Yes...polluted with it!
I cannot show you the rest...but believe me,
I am losing sleep...
There is one question plaguing me, though...
Why do we have all of these predators, pestilence, parasites and poison ivy?