Tuesday, March 15, 2011


All of this rain intermingled with warm sunny days has been amazing for the garden. And the bugs. Ugh! It seems that in every nook and cranny there are little crawling or flying things emerging en mass from some invisible winter hibernation. Everyday I'm out with the zapper, electrocuting flies left and right. However, it doesn't get the tiny bugs, which have been more than prolific.

Not only is the yard abuzz, so are the animals. This past week, one of the chickens stopped laying and started losing feathers. I noticed that a few of the scales on her legs were looking dark and raised. That's definitely not normal. Usually her scales are smooth and almost white. From what I could figure, it was scaly leg mites though I wasn't sure. But when I pulled out the bedding in the chicken coop and saw all these little black dots bouncing around, I had no doubt I was right. I checked all the girls, and each one seemed to have it. *sigh* To deal with the pests, I've scrubbed down the hen house, sprayed the coop and the birds with poultry spray, sprinkled diatomaceous earth (theoretically, the fossilized remains of diatoms absorb lipids from the exoskeletons of tiny insects causing them to dehydrate and die) on absolutely everything, and slathered all the chickens' legs with petroleum jelly to suffocate the suckers. So far it looks as though it is working.

The goats haven't fared much better. Both have lice. Lucy not so bad, but Ethel... good lord! I usually give Lucy a good grooming while she is on the milk stand and that seems to have kept the numbers down. I only find a handful each morning. Obviously I've been neglecting poor Ethel. Last week her spine was coated with tan, sesame seed looking bits. After a rubbing of tea tree and lavender oil into her coat and a good sprinkling of D.E., she is looking much better. Once we get a good spell of sunshine and things dry up, so should the lice. I look forward to that day, but in the meanwhile I'll continue the battle by arming myself with pungent oils, hard-shelled algae, and oily substances.


  1. We found they come in the straw we used for bedding and nestboxes. In the hollow straws/tubes. Using bermuda solved that, but a few hens got impacted crops. I am now using dried eucalyptus leaves that came from a tree company's waste. Hoping that will both keep bugs away and solve my bedding dilemma.

    If the goats ever get it really bad, you can trim along their spine with clippers to expose the area to the sun. Reverse mohawk :)


  2. Thanks Kathy for the tips! I've been using orchard grass in the nesting boxes so am not sure why I'm getting mites. Have always associated it with straw.

  3. I love your natural pesticides. What does the tea tree and lavender do?

  4. Bella had lice REALLY REALLY bad. I dusted her really well with DE and it appears to have worked. There are still a few stragglers, but overall she is so much better. Oh, and I wanted to ask you, have you ever had chickens that wouldn't molt? Both of my RIRs refuse to molt and look absolutely awful.

  5. @ Michaele - mites don't like tea tree and lavender so it helps to prevent them from jumping on in the first place.

    @ Rachel - I've never had the not molting problem. check BYC, I'm sure someone over there has had that experience.