Monday, June 30, 2014


It's been very hot here lately, and hordes of biting flies have joined the countless mosquitoes, making time spent outdoors both mind-meltingly steamy and a ceaseless battle against welt-producing nasties. Yesterday I decided to experiment with reducing the number of insects that fly into the new barn.

Last year I tacked up a set of "instant screen door" panels in the little goat shed doorway, and felt they helped keep the deer flies out. So at the end of the season, I bought a couple more sets on sale, in anticipation of the day when the new little barn would be built.

Yesterday, I cut those panels into half-lengths and hung some in the upper doorway of the feed storage side of the barn and others in the lower doorway of the big communal stall. I left the center of the lower doorway temporarily unscreened, though, so the goats could get used to the curtains and I could see whether or not they would decide to tear them down.

Initially there was a lot of nosing and chewing and pawing at curtains,
but soon Lily and Azalea and Campion seemed quite relaxed:

while Tsuga appeared to be collecting data:

"Hypothesis: there are fewer insects on one side of the screen.
Methodology: I'll put just one ear and one foot outside and compare.

Twenty minutes later:

 "Phase Two: I shall now extend just one hind foot."

I'm looking forward to Tsuga's analysis of her data.
I just hope I won't have to wait for her to publish;
those peer-reviewed goat research journals are notoriously slow.

(I was about to write "Probably the editors spend too much time browsing,"
but I realized it would have been an unintentional pun,
which is so much worse than an intentional pun!
Whew. Narrow escape, there.)

Twenty-four hours later, all the curtains are still in place. Of course some bugs are still flying in through that big opening - the one that Lily is treating as her own private checkpoint - but I've noticed that, once inside, the bugs become focused on trying to get back out, mostly through the upper doorway of the feed area which is pretty completely covered by the hanging screens. Bonus! Now when I go into the barn I spend a minute or two using a little jar with some sticky liquid in the bottom to quickly tap those deer flies and horseflies off the screen and out of the equation, permanently.

I actually got goosebumps as I typed "deerflies and horseflies."
The body remembers those bites!

So, not a perfect or total solution, but it is a definite improvement!
And that's what we shoot for here...improvement, not perfection.

"Ahem! Speak for yourself, please!
I'm not looking for progress or perfection...
I'm looking for results!
Quantifiable truth!
And ultimately, tenure!"

Oh, don't worry about tenure Tsuga. You've got it.