My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Fly Catcher

As my husband and I drove around the countryside in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania last week, at one point we slowed down to wait for an Amish farmer’s dairy herd to cross the road.  We didn’t mind the delay—it was the kind of thing we like best about country drives. 

Then we noticed that the cows were moving single file through a strange white box before crossing the road.  So after the cattle had all safely crossed over, we pulled over to talk to the farmer—and he seemed glad to take a few minutes to answer our questions.

It turns out that the box is something that this farmer had seen on another farm, and it worked so well that he made his own.  As the cows walk through the box, the strips of heavy plastic suspended inside slide over the cows and whisk the flies off their backs and sides.  And after the cows pass through the other end, most of the flies are trapped inside the box to die.

The farmer said the cows were more than willing to walk through the box and get rid of the pests that torment them so much, particularly in hot weather.  The strips couldn’t reach upwards to clear the flies off their stomachs, but no system is perfect!

He said that there are chemicals and soaps available to treat dairy cattle for flies, but either they don’t work very well, or they are prohibitively expensive.  But this simple, organic, low-cost contraption does a great job at keeping some of God’s creatures a little more comfortable on one at least one dairy farm in Amish Pennsylvania.

One more thing—we asked him a last question before we got back in our car:  “Are those camels we see in your field?!”  And he said that yes, he has a small herd of camels, which he actually milks!  Fancy that!

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