Tools of the Trade

I’m frantically cleaning the house and getting the garden in order. Especially after the storm, which knocked down my prized purple Italian fava beans (nooooo…). I actually mopped the floor of the milking room.

Maybe it’s the full moon, maybe it’s the eclipse, but probably it’s genetic. My mom told me she always cleans the house before she goes on vacation. That’s right, I’m going on vacation! Driving to Baja. I want to return to a nice tidy house, so I started cleaning, even though I’m not a tidy person.

It might be vanity, too, as I will have a couple people coming over to milk Bebe and feed the rabbits. How horrified would they be if they had to, as I do everyday, storm through a flurry of flies when they walk through the kitchen. I don’t know why I have so many of them inside my house, but it got so bad they were landing on me and Bill when we ate dinner. That’s just gross. I have fly tape. I started to hunt them with a heavy envelop from Geico. The couple of flies I killed with these methods were a drop in the bucket. They kept coming back!! Desperate, I went to the 24 hour Oakland Longs (AKA CVS). As I perused the aisles, I contemplated poisons and sprays, then I found it, the tool that would change my life! It looks like a tennis racquet, but with metal strings. You just add two batteries and suddenly, you are a fly assassin. I usually would never buy a plastic thing like this–I’m sure it’ll break immediately and probably won’t work. But I was desperate, remember? So I went home, added batteries, and started swing. It helps that I played tennis in high school. Flies started dying by the dozens. All I had to do was get them to touch the tennis racquet strings, and blammo–dead! And they don’t just die, they sizzle and burn. There’s an electric spark. It’s very very satisfying. I have lost the package, so I can’t tell you the name of the product. But if you have flies: get the electric tennis racquet.

My second tool of the trade in the Henry Milker. Henry called me and asked if I’d like to try out his milker. I said I don’t do product endorsements unless I love something, but go ahead and send her over. He did, and I tried it out. It’s basically a Mighty-Vac connected to tubing and some Mason jar lids. It was just okay. It did milk my goat, but it wasn’t any faster than I do it by hand, so I put it away.

Then I tried to go on vacation. Tried because I do have a goat in milk, I’m not very organized, and most people don’t want to deal with my cranky goat. Enter the Henry Milker. Many people don’t have the hand stamina to milk a goat; and with my goat, she’s got pretty small teats so it’s an extra challenge. But almost anyone can hook her up to the Henry Milker and get the milk out within 15 minutes. Thank god for the Henry Milker!!!

Ok, with that, I’m out of here. See you in 2011–may your holidays be bright, your critters content, and your gardens fertile.


20 responses to “Tools of the Trade

  1. I am so getting one of those tennis racquet fly killer things. We don’t have them indoors, but it would be super awesome to run through the animal yard with that thing.

    I love my Henry Milker solely for the fact that it would be impossible to milk my ultra jiggy goat without it. If she would let me milk her by hand I’m sure it would be much faster, but I couldn’t get more than a few squeezes in before she would plant a hoof in the pail.

    Have a super fun time in Baja!

  2. Happy New Year, and have a wonderful time! 🙂

  3. I have to agree about the Henry Milker. After Heidi’s glowing review, I decided to buy one. Did I need one? No. Nali and Snow are a dream to milk. But I do like to support independant folks who start a small business and invent creative products, especially tools for our trade so to speak.

    I tried it out and it does work. It is no where near as fast as my own two hands. But on the off chance that I have to go away unexpectantly and my regular backup isn’t available, it’s nice to know that I have a simple tool that just about anyone could use.

    As for the high tech fly swatter, I absolutely have to get one. I recently brooded 5 chicks and 3 ducklings in my livingroom. Add in my personal preference to leave the doors open for fresh air and well, it was an invitation too good to pass up for those pesky little buggers. Of course, no matter how often I changed the bedding, they multiplied like… well… flies. So even though the poultry has been out in the barn for a couple of weeks, I’m still dealing with the aftermath.

    I think having 2 or 3 buzzing around in lazily sharp squares is natural. I’ve often found myself in a meditative state while watching them. But 20 or 30 just kills that buzz (pun intended). It’s like I had to swipe my way from the front door to the kitchen. I’m down to half a dozen or so now so it isn’t so bad. But I definately will be keeping an eye out for one of those things.

    Oh, and my secret fly tool? My vacuum cleaner with the tube extension. Late at night when it cools off, the little buggers tend to settle down on things like the ceiling or cabinet. I’ve gotten very good at using the extension to suck them right up. Slurp! Gone! But I think a zap and sizzle might be a little more satisfying.

  4. I recently got something sort of similar to the Henry Milker because one of my girls is a squatter. If it doesn’t work when they freshen in March I’ll try the Henry Milker.

    The fly killer looks fun but we just don’t have a fly problem at our place. Maybe because it’s too windy (it can get REALLY windy) but we don’t even really get flies that bad out in the animal barn. Of course, our cats are indoor only so our doors either remain closed or they have screens, thus preventing fly invasions.

  5. I know it sounds like an odd solution, but I read it out there on the internet, tried it & it works: those car air fresheners that look like cardboard, in vanilla scent. I hung one up near my chicken coop and the flies were way less numerous. I tried real vanilla on a piece of cardboard, but that didn’t seem to work as well.

    Have a great vacation!

  6. To say that you are so damn great, appears trite but my god, the book is absolutely fabulous; so enjoyed the the video with and the scenes show all the things in the book which resonated with me, especially re: opossum and comments about living in a neighborhoood of odd dishes. Your authenticity and self-deprecation are endearing. From someone with a farm background which morphed to the value-added caldron, you are a slow one down the middle, and frankly one cool chick, no pun intended .
    Enjoy your well deserved vacation!

  7. I too love the fly racquets, they are too much fun for the fact that I am busy killing something.

    Have fun on your vacation, us farmers don’t get to take many!
    And best wishes to your stock and garden in the coming year as well.

  8. Happy Birthday to you Novella!

    I was just listening to a clip of Amaya singing and had to come here to repeat the message.

  9. Hi Novella:

    If you are having trouble with insects invading your kitchen, save your coffee grounds and take the tea out of your tea bags after you have made tea.

    Save your tea and coffee leavings in your kitchen in a paper bag lined with two plastic garbage bags. This will repel those pesky flies.

  10. uleee süper süper.

  11. I got one of those electronic bug zapper rackets as well to do some damage to the flying pests in my garden this summer.

  12. have you tried growing carnivorous plants? Pitcher plants and sundews are both easy to grow and effective fly paper. Something very satisfying, if a little gross, about hearing a plant eat lunch

  13. I just finished reading your book Farm City. It was terrific. I hope you don’t get sick of hearing that. I have nother new to add. I just wanted to express my good feelings. Thanks,

  14. I hope you are having a great vacation! If you every need someone to take care of your goats while you are away, I’d be happy to help since I am only 2 blocks away. Also, I am contemplating getting a couple myself, so it would be good for me to take care of them for a while to see if it is a good fit for me. By the way, how do you cook borage leaves? I have tons!

  15. Like Anne above, just finished ‘Farm City’ and wanted to add my thanks. Also wanted to clue you into another writer of a similar stripe (in farming, worldview and literary skills: Michael Perry). i think you’ll especially like ‘Coop: A Family, A Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg,’ if you haven’t read it already.

    Also saw an earlier comment from you mentioning suggestions and recently viewed a Dave Eggers/TED video about urban education and community. Seemed like a perfect fit for your unique take on things, concern about kids and similar locale . . . if you haven’t seen it, hope you like it (and am now looking forward to your next book). 🙂

  16. ghosttownfarm

    hey pamina;
    cool! do you have a goat set up? maybe next time i head out, i could just leave them at your house.
    to cook borage leaves, i usually pour a bunch of kosher salt all over cut up leaves, work them with my hands until they start dripping water, and then rinse x3. cook as you would kale or chard, stuff into bread, etc. enjoy!

  17. No. I don’t have a goat set up yet. Still working on convincing my partner. But I am close enough to easily go over there to take care of them. Thanks for the borage tip. I will have to try it soon. I’ve left a bunch of it in for the bees since it is flowering now.

  18. Hi Novella,
    Do you know if that Henry Milker works for sheep, too? I’m a little intimidated at the prospect of milking sheep, but that’s the animal that seems to fit best with my wants/needs.

  19. Hey.. Something to try for flies.. food grade diatomaceous earth.. It’s available at most feed stores for about 14$ for a 20kg bag.. spread some around your chicken area and wherever anything tends to poop. Cuts the flies down in no time flat, and for an added benefit… deworms the chickens.

  20. I just read Farm City and I am so inspired! I live in Muncie, IN – post-industrial rust belt. I came here for an academic position at Ball State Univ. and have become pretty involved in the local food movement. There are local organic farmers, struggling to turn the land around and we now have 8 community gardens in town. There is a movement to make it legal (again) to have laying hens inside the city limits. Most days, I can feel pretty discouraged, the land has been badly treated and the town is in decay. We live in a ghetto neighborhood too and are trying to make it better by growing organic veggies. Thank you for your book!

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