Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 18 Pest Control

31 Days of Homestead Living!

Pest Control - Where do I start?  When you live on a farm, in the middle of 100 acres of cotton, there will be pests.  Some are not as bad as others.  Some you really don't want to think about. 

I recently decided to try hedge apples to deter pests such as bugs and spiders in my home.  I was told by a friend that you place them around your home, and the bugs don't like them and stay away or leave.  She cut her hedge apples into quarters and placed them in saucers, one in each corner of the room.  I wanted to put them in our basement mainly for crickets, and such.  I was planning to stop on the side of  local highway to pick some up.  I was in the process of trying to decide how many I should get, and what day to go when GrandBoy wouldn't be with me.  I didn't want to take GrandBoy because I would have to keep one hand on him, and try to pick up hedge apples with the other.  I guess this sounded like a dangerous trip to my husband, Pappy, so he surprised me with a bucket of them the next day!  I'll let you know in the spring if I notice any difference.

A problem I am having right now is with gnats!  I have never had a problem like this before.  I have tried making fly traps with vinegar, rotting fruit, paper funnels, and nothing works.  I have used these methods in the past and always had success!  I tried spraying them with hairspray (I heard they won't be able to fly, and would die),  but it didn't make a difference.  I searched and searched last week end, and finally found what was attracting them.  Rotten potatoes!  So I got rid of those.  I've never had that happen before in almost 30 years of marriage, either.  I guess you could say I've been a little distracted!  So I hope in the next week or so, the gnats that are here will die, if they are able to outlive my fly swatter!  If anyone has any idea to get rid of these pests, please let me know.

In early spring we always have ants come in the kitchen window, and sometimes the bathroom, too.  Those windows are on the same wall of the house.  The pest control man told me that ants will travel a long way to come in your house.  People put poison around their homes, but the ant hill may be a ways away.  So I try to put ant bait in the window sill.  We pour boiling water on the hills as we discover them around the house.  The best luck I have in killing them inside is to spray them with just anything.  Febreeze type product, glass cleaner, maybe water would do.  I haven't tried that yet.  But when I spray them, they die instantly.  I have a cleaning bottle marked "ant spray" in my kitchen, so no one will carry it off and clean with it.  It sits on the counter of the kitchen when we have the ant problem.

I buy all the rubber toy snakes I see at yard sales and thrift stores.  We put them on the car port, deck, and sun porch to keep the chickens and other birds from pooping where we spend time.  These rubber snakes also frighten the repair men who aren't expecting to see them!  Well, at the start of this summer, I started out the kitchen door and headed toward the dove cage.  A real, live snake was laying on the concrete.  It was striped and as long as my arm. The snake saw me and turned and started toward me.  I turned and started back toward the house for a broom or something.  I glanced back over my shoulder and the snake had turned away and was headed toward the cage again.  I couldn't see where it went.  I never found it.  GrandBoy found a green snake wound up in the screen door last week!  He started to grab it by the tail, but his Aunt yelled at him to stop!  They caught it and put it in a juice bottle to look at.  We usually don't have many snakes, because the chickens and guineas will eat them.  But snakes are good for killing mice and rats.

Speaking of mice and rats.  They have been bad, this year, too.  We see them in the yard, out in the open.  They are in the chicken and rabbit houses, and anywhere we store grain.  I think it is because we had such a mild winter.  But we also didn't have a cat this year.  Well, now we have two barn cats, and they are hunters.  So hopefully next year the mice will be history!  Just this week, I was expecting a gentleman to do some work at our home.  I went downstairs to our daughter's room, and there was a mouse.  I couldn't be sure if it was real or not, because it just sat there and looked at me.  I moved very slowly and grabbed a coffee cup.  I turned it upside down over the mouse, and he started to cry.  His tail was caught, but I didn't care!  I called my husband to remove it from the house before the repair man arrived.  Shew!  That was close.

The first year we lived here, my husband worked nights and I was home alone with the children in the evenings.  At that time we had one or two gopher rats!  They would only come out (or inside I guess) late at night.  A few times I would look down the hall and see one in the kitchen.  About the size of a miniature dog.  Once it stood on its back legs slowly and looked at me down the hall.  Pappy asked me what I did, and I said, "Nothing!  I stood and watched it to make sure it stayed down there!"  My husband said it sounded like it was old, since it moved so slowly.  One time I came in the kitchen, and there was one on the kitchen table eating an apple from the fruit bowl, like corn on the cob!  Husband looked around the outside of the farm house, and found an opening where the dryer ductwork vented to the outside.  He sealed that up, and we haven't had one since.  I'm glad they were outside when we sealed the hole!

When you live around livestock, flies are always a problem in the warmer months.  A few years ago, we found a product called "Predators".  Every few weeks, we get a box at the post office.  In it, is a zip lock bag with saw dust, and a bunch of black specks.  When we notice the specks starting to move, it is time to set the bag outside and open it up.  The black bugs, called Predators, eat flies.  We have found such a difference since we started using this product.  I don't know what kind of insect they are really, but they are great.  Each year we order more than the previous year.  I guess because we have more livestock.  The company said we needed to go two more cycles this fall, but we thought we had done enough and stopped.  Maybe that is why we have a gnat problem!  I believe we pay about $18 a shipment for Predators, and they are worth every penny!  Another thing we have tried with the flies are hanging zip lock bags with water near the doors.  I guess maybe some of you have seen these hanging outside country restaurants!  Some people think you should place a penny in the bag to reflect the light.  We stopped doing the bags since we have our Predators.  The Predators were originally used at horse farms, but now a lot of farms use them.  I would recommend them for anyone who wants to get rid of flies, farm or not.

Something else we have noticed a problem with this year is moles.  We never had them at this house before last year.  They dig tunnels in our yard.  My husband has set traps for them, but I don't know if he has caught any.  I also purchase some pellets for them that you pour down the hole.  The neighbors have had them for a while, so I guess it was inevitable they would come.

A different kind of pest we have from time to time is a crane visiting our pond.  My husband hates cranes because they eat our catfish!  But it is a federal lawn that you can't harm them.  So I ordered a metal crane decoy that stands on our dock to scare them away.  Now the crane just stays on the far side of the pond.  Mental note:  Buy another crane decoy.

I've talked about so many pest problems I bet some of you never move to a farm!  I just remembered I have a book my mama bought me a few years ago about homemade remedies for pests, made from pantry items.  I think I'll go look and see if they know how to get rid of gnats!  Honey


  1. Hi Honey! I found your link on bloglena… love your blog. I live on a farm also, have since we’ve been married (36 years this month!) Many of the things you’ve mentioned I can relate to 
    We live right in the middle of our cattle so the flies are horrendous! We’ve tried a lot of things to get rid of them..this summer we bought something from Lowes which trapped the flies and it worked well, but I’m going to look into the Predator thing you talked about. With the gnats, try putting ¼ cup or so of red wine vinegar and a few drops of dish soap into a tall glass. It stinks some, but works great. You will probably have to leave it out several days. I keep it out until I don’t see gnats anymore.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Cindra! We will be married 30 years in a couple of months! I will try your trick with the gnats. I got up this morning, and it seemed like most of them were gone! I don't know if it was the cooler weather, or someone prayed over them for me! If you need help finding info on the Predators, let me know. Honey

  3. Pest is unfortunately part of the farm life. I hope the homemade remedies from your Mama’s book worked for you. I can only imagine your annoyance with those gnats flying around your outdoors. You’ve gotten rid of their source, so it should be easier to get rid of those which remained. Alta, Liberty Pest, Inc.

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