Dealing with mosquitoes, snakes, skunks (and chickens)

We often say we don’t need to go away to vacation because everything we need is right here. Unfortunately that includes the pests

OXFORD MILLS, Ont., Aug. 6, 2017 /Troy Media/ – Our four-month-old golden retriever pup, Fergus, has a bee sting on his eyelid. For an animal that yelps every time he’s accidentally nudged, he’s enduring this latest assault without comment.

We were on the way to the vet anyway, to get a shot. Seems he’ll have to be on Benadryl for a day or two until the swelling goes down.

I didn’t see the bee or wasp that stung Fergus, but I’m sure he deserved it.

He just can’t leave them alone. He follows them, stamps on them and then tries to eat them. He has also been seen flying through the air trying to catch one in his mouth.

He has been warned.

I’m happy to see the honey bees back on the farm. For a few years, all we saw were yellow jackets. We still have those but they aren’t as plentiful as they used to be. The bumblebees hover over the flowers surrounding the pool, and have no interest in attacking man or beast – unless provoked.

I wish the same could be said for the mosquitoes.

We often say we don’t need to go away to vacation because everything we need is right here: a great view of the sunset, a pool to cool off in, comfy chairs on the porch. But it seems I’m going to have to invest in some sort of mosquito deterrent if we’re going to enjoy our outdoor surroundings after sundown.

I heard something on the radio about creating a mosquito-free zone around your house. I’m going to look into it before our annual farm party this month. We want our guests to enjoy themselves outside on the dance floor under the stars, beside the campfire.

If this mosquito situation continues, all our guests will be in the house. And what’s the point of a farm party if you’re inside? That’s just a house party. We can have one of those in the winter.

While I’m researching how to get rid of mosquitoes, the Farmer says he also needs to find a way to scare off a family of snakes. They have nested beneath his new log cabin and they}re his least favourite thing ever.

I told him I’m pretty sure if he makes a lot of noise the snakes will go away. I’m not sure, actually. Our neighbour has a snake living under her porch that actually emerges to greet people coming to the front door. And the snake appearance at the cabin happened while the radio was playing, full blast. So it obviously isn’t put off by music. In fact, it seems to like classic rock.

Knock on wood, we seem to have effectively dealt with the skunks and raccoons this year. I’m giving Fergus some credit for their absence. Normally we lose some of our chickens to the marauding pests. This year, I think Fergus has properly marked his territory and they don’t want to run into him. Ten points for the pup.

On the subject of chickens, we will have several dozen to sell come the end of the month. I will be happy to see them go; they’re the biggest pests of all when you’re trying to fill their feeders. They don’t even wait until you’ve successfully figured out how to get the 40-pound feed bag open before they start pecking your ankles.

I check on them once in a while, but to be honest I haven’t gone in there to feed them in over a month. The Farmer can have that job. He has tougher ankles.

I’m really surprised we haven’t seen any poison parsnip on our property. Maybe the cattle have eaten it. Or maybe it hasn’t found the right conditions to thrive here as it does just about everywhere else. It’s a good thing, too, because I can be sure that if we had some of the toxic weed that Fergus would find it and get himself into trouble.

For now, he only has to worry about insects and the occasional misplaced piece of lawn furniture or farm equipment. He hates when they aren’t in the same place they were the day before and spends a few minutes barking out a warning.

Fergus the farm guardian is on the job. Bees, bugs and buckets beware.

Troy Media columnist Diana Fisher is a freelance writer living on a 200-acre farm along the Kemptville Creek in Oxford Mills, Ont.


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