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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Shoo Fly!

Chuck Hinman: Shoo Fly! Chuck recalls constant warfare with flies when he was growing up on aNebraska farm.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - What's that smell?

By Chuck Hinman

Shoo Fly!

Growing up on a Nebraska farm is an experience that everyone should have. One thing however that I didn't miss after leaving the farm is flies.

Flies are attracted to the refuse of farm animals and poultry. We had cattle, horses, pigs, and chickens. Their considerable refuse was for the most part accumulated within 300 feet of our house.

Every spring, Dad spent several weeks loading the manure from the barnyard on a manure spreader and taking it to the fields where it was spread on the ground. It was the only fertilizer in those days and long before manufactured fertilizer was used.

Flies like backs of animals... and milk

In my boyhood days I remember so clearly the hoards of flies gathered on the backs of our cattle, horses, and pigs. Many times there were over one-hundred flies on the backs of large animals. And can you imagine the discomfort? One fly drives me batty! When the animal's tail shoo-ed the flies from one area of the back, they just set up business in another.

To keep our milk cows from being so restless when we were milking them, we sprayed their backs with fly spray which offered temporary relief only.

As careful as we were in handling the milk for human consumption (including ours) we frequently found a couple of dead flies on the milk strainer pad. But better there than in your oatmeal cookies with raisins! Oh, shut-up!

Constant warfare with flies from spring to hard freeze

On the farm, it was constant warfare with flies from spring until the first hard freeze. Before the screen windows were put on the house to replace the storm windows, they were carefully scrutinized to see if there was any place a fly could enter the house. If there was such a place it was repaired before the screen was hung.

In spite of utmost precaution on everyone's part, flies still managed to get in the house. The main weapon was the fly swatter with which each room was armed. If there were too many flies to kill one at a time, fly spray was used.

And of course there was "fly paper" that was very effective in controlling flies who preferred living in the house and tip-toeing barefoot through the food you were about to put in your mouth. Fly paper was a strip of paper two inches wide and 24 inches long. It was hung from the ceiling just above your head. It had a sticky substance on both sides of the paper. Something in this substance was attractive to the flies and when they zoomed in for a snack they soon found they were hopelessly trapped alive along with hundreds of their friends.

Flies as at home in White House as on farm

A final observation begs to be made concerning the culinary preferences of flies. They seem to be as at home on President Obama's arm in the White House as they are on our farm animals.

Perhaps as on our Nebraska farm, it's time for a periodic clean-up of the barnyard. So what say ye?

Written by Chuck Hinman, 10 July 2009 and slightly revised by him 11 October 2011.

This story was posted on 2013-04-14 04:33:43
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