Thursday, June 16, 2011
June Goatwalking (with mosquitoes)
The grass, dandelions, and clover at the edge of the road are knee-high now, and the mosquitoes are biting. We are keeping to the open spaces in our goatwalking these days. It's not as interesting as walking through the forest, but the goats get a bellyful fast and we don't get eaten alive.
June is mosquito month. The warm weather, combined with all the flooding from rain on top of melting snow in the hills, creates perfect conditions for the bugs. They're irritating and can be overwhelming in the deep forest, but they aren't as bad as some insects. If we stay where a breeze can blow them away, and keep moving, the number of bites we get stays low; and after 20 years, we've built up such an immunity that they hardly bother us as long as we don't scratch them.
The goats spend quite a bit of time lying down, especially in the dirt, to protect their undersides from the bugs. For us, long sleeves and pants help, especially in light colours. We don't go out much at dawn and dusk. A mosquito net over the bed allows us a good night's sleep. Most of all, though, attitude is important. We keep in mind that the frogs, bats, and some birds rely on a good crop of mosquitoes. We think about things like tapping trees for maple syrup when we see mosquitoes feeding. We remember that this difficult season will only last a couple of weeks. As a final bonus, we realize that these insects are responsible for our peace and serenity, by keeping hordes of urbanites from overrunning our rural retreat!