Draft horses are stoic beasts. They can work through heat, dust, discomfort and fatigue. But, like Gulliver, they are tormented beyond their limits by hordes of little things.
The face flies that mass around their eyes and nose, the green-headed flies that bite the belly, neck and chest, and the dreaded big black ones that like to attack the legs are all exceptionally bad this year. Yesterday, I walked Jay and Jack up the sugarbush hill to cultivate corn.
The previous night’s rain must have hatched out a new crop of bloodthirsty bugs; each step in the tall grass seemed to draw more of them to us, until the horses were moving in a living, buzzing cloud, and shook their heads in misery.
In the past, we’ve gotten through these bad summer weeks using a combination of the old-fashioned string fly nets with masks that make the horses look like extras in Lawrence of Arabia, plus the liberal use of a repellant I make from a blend of essential oils (and use on us as well as the horses).
This year, the flies are overwhelming both of those defenses. We’ve just gotten a delivery of conventional pyrethrin-based spray, and hope it will make them a lot more comfortable.
More gross entomological news this week…” (Continue reading about Kristin Kimball’s Essex Farm.)