Saturday, December 27, 2008

Random Thoughts, Random Advice

A post in which I make a very public display of my passive-aggressive-ness. Aggressive in that I am annoyed and making a point of offering advice, passive in that I am not telling anyone this directly, hoping only that stumbling across this information on an obscure farm blog will change behavior.

To Charity Groups:
We all know that the economy is not doing well. We know that the need for your services is higher than usual. My piece of advice is this: return ALL phone calls to your general voice mail, especially from someone who wants to a)Give you about half of the items on your wish list, and/or b) wants to give care packages to the people in your shelter, but needs to know how many to put together. If the person who handles this is on vacation, a short call telling the interested party this fact will make the interested caller feel better about trying to help you out. And will keep her from becoming bitter. And annoyed.

To clerks who stalk pet owners in pet stores:
-There is a fine line between helpful and annoying. If I have a newly adopted pet and you have heard that a)I have been training dogs since I was 10 and b)the dog had some unfortunate social "issues", instead of trying to (repeatedly, continually) make suggestions (use a Gentle Leader!) that are not going to help with the dog's behavior, why don't you try to talk the woman with the four pound lap dog into using something more appropriate than the huge pinch collar she has on her dog. Seriously, that would be time better spent. Did I really feel the need to use a choke collar on my dog? Yes. You can tell because I am cheap and don't like to spend money I don't absolutely have to. While clicker training is great and there are definitely advantages to it, sometimes the dog does need a correction. That's life. Again, please listen to the words that are coming out of my mouth. I know how to train dogs.

-Also, when I tell you I have trained dogs for years, do not try to get me to sign up for your beginning obedience class. It will only serve to irritate me and to convince me that you are incapable of listening. The dog that I just told you I got earlier in the day is not indicative of my training skills- she has not even spent one night at my house.

-If you try to get me to buy a Gentle Leader one more time, I will write your corporate head quarters and complain to them about the fact that you will not let me alone when I am in your store. Seriously, do you get some sort of commission just on this one item?

To Petco Specifically
It is very nice that you give a coupon book for money off of supplies to people who adopt animals from a breed rescue or the local animal shelter. However, it would be nice if you went through them occasionally to make sure the coupons haven't all expired six months or so before you handed it to the people in your store.

Also, when the people bring the book back, hoping to get one that has coupons which expire sometime in the future, make sure that your clerk can at least read at a high enough level to comprehend that just because "dog" and "cat" both have three letters, they are not, in fact, the same thing. You can give me all the coupons you want for kitty litter, but that is not going to bring me into your store.

To Farmers Market Shoppers:
In general, I love the market shoppers. There are some things about some shoppers that I would be happy to do without:

-I think it is great that people see people they haven't seen in a very long time at the market and get to catch up. However, if you decide to catch up, please do not use my table as a place to set all of your belongings, and as a place for your toddler to amuse themselves. That is not why I am at the market. I am there to sell things so I can feed my animals and pay my mortgage. You blocking my table does not do either. Please move to an unoccupied spot, or over to one of the many picnic tables provided for you.

- If you cannot use the sort of thing I am selling, do not feel compelled to come over and tell me why you cannot use soap. If you don't use soap, you are not going to be one of my customers, and there's not much I can do about it. I wonder if these same people go into ice cream stores and explain that they can't eat cold food or they will double over in pain. Uh, thanks for sharing, I guess.

-Similarly, if you have a friend who makes soap and gives you all you can use and more, there is really no need to tell me that either.

-If you are thinking of making soap, find a soap supply store that will happily give you recipes on how to make this product. Do not expect someone who is selling soap to give you their recipe- lots of research and time went into their product.

-Also, if you have children who are big fans of really ripe strawberries, please, please keep track of where they are putting their hands. Strawberry stains are very hard to remove from the fabric covering my table, and having to re-wrap soaps with stained wrappers is not fun, nor is it free.

-If you ask me if I will be here next Saturday, I (and all of the other vendors at the market) know you have no intention of actually coming back next week. There's really no need to ask us this, just because you have asked a million questions and have no intention of buying anything but feel awkward about just walking away from the booth without at least making an attempt to sound like you may be back next week to get something. We're on to you.

-If you don't think that a soap smells exactly like what you were thinking it would smell like based on the label, do feel free to let me know, and suggest what it smells like to you. After the first mention though, if you go on and on and on about the scent not matching what you were expecting, I may get somewhat annoyed. Especially if you are emphatic about it.

That is all for now on the advice front.

Random thoughts:

I seem to be unable to post comments to 98% of blogger blogs, even though I clearly have a blogger account. Many times, the letters you are supposed to type in to make sure you aren't some sort of auto-comment spider don't even show up. When they do show up, I usually have to type them in several times before the blog will post it.

Yesterday was the National Bird Count day, and I am pretty sure some memo went out to the birds. I awoke yesterday morning to find the back yard positively alive with birds, including a couple of western blue bird pairs checking out the new bird box Andy put on the post in the "lawn". Lots of finches, a woodpecker, the blue birds, ravens, gold finches, purple finches, etc all there for the counting. Last night the Great Horned owls sounded as though they were having an animated conversation about where their next nest should go, or possibly how many owlets they should aim for in 2009.

This morning, nothing. Not a single bird in view.

In flipping through a book titled "1001 Reasons to Think Positive", I was quite surprised to see that about 30% of the one sentence "reasons" started with "don't". That seems sort of negative for a book on being positive. Also, they weren't reasons to think positive, they were more how-to oriented. I would have assumed from the title that it was a book convincing you why you should be positive (i.e. lower your blood pressure, you'll be more enjoyable to be around, friends will return your phone calls, etc.), but that turns out not to be the case. I suppose this is one of the reasons you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

I would have more random thoughts, but Stella is doing the dog equivalent of hovering behind my shoulder and asking me how much longer I need before we can leave. She's been promised a nice long walk once we have a break in the weather, and since we are having a somewhat sunny day, I must get her some exercise while I can.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice Everyone!

Not only is today the shortest day of the year, it is also the official beginning of winter.That’s right- all the cold weather you thought was winter was actually autumn giving you a little seasonal appetizer. Nice, eh?

I hate cold weather, so for me the upside of this day is the knowledge that each day will bring with it a little more daylight (yay!). The downside is that I know my patience for crappy cold temperatures will run out long before the crappy cold weather does. I know, we need the cold so we’ll get a good apple crop (yes, apples need several hundred hours of very cold weather in order to be happy), and because it kills off the flies, or at least makes them slow enough to be easy targets. Rain means that soon we’ll hear the frogs in our seasonal creek every night, and the fields certainly need lots of moisture right about now. But it also means wearing 20 pounds or so of clothing every time I leave the house, taking about seven minutes to get dressed just to go out to the barn, and a very strong urge to stay under the covers where it is nice and warm for as long as I can get away with, happy to raise a white flag in the battle against gravity. These urges do not make for productive winter days.

I’m also learning that rainy days make Stella rather restless. It doesn’t seem to me that I am spending that much more time in the house when it rains, but judging from the number and volume level of the sighs emanating from the dog, I apparently am *quite* boring to hang out with when the weather is bad.

We now break for a public service announcement:

Should you, at this time of year, bring mistletoe into the house for the holidays, please keep in mind that mistletoe is in fact a parasite. It lives by sucking the life out of the trees in which you find it. Therefore, when you go to dispose of it, please place it in the trash, and do not put it in the “green” trash with the rest of the vegetative waste from your house, and do not put it in your compost pile.

If you find mistletoe growing in any of your trees, do the tree a favor, and remove it. This usually means removing the entire branch containing the mistletoe back to the main trunk of the tree as the mistletoe has set up a network of roots in the branch- if you just knock off the green part that you can see, the mistletoe will come back very easily next year. For some reason, our area, and Vacaville in general seems to have quite a mistletoe infestation afflicting our trees. One of our black walnut trees had six very large clumps of mistletoe growing in it (each one pretty much filled an entire trash can), and in the two years since I’ve gotten rid of the last of it, the black walnut has flourished with a much thicker canopy than the first few years we lived here.

Also, poinsettias are not poisonous. If you ate the leaves off of 10 plants, you might have a bit of a tummy ache, and your family might wonder about your general state of mind, but you would not die from doing so.

I know, now you will sleep easier at night. I do what I can.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Today, I was out in my workshop area, making a few batches of soap, and listening to "Car Talk" on the radio, and one of the callers was asking a question about his daughter's car. In the course of the conversation, he mentioned that his daughter lives in California, so "of course, the car never gets all that cold". I have to assume from this comment that they were talking about a car that lives somewhere south of Santa Barbara. Say, Los Angeles, or possibly San Diego.

California is not just the greater Los Angeles-San Diego metropolitan region. It is in fact, a very large state with a huge range of climates, from Death Valley in the south east to the Lost Coast (with over 100 inches of rain annually) in the north west to the Sierra Mountains lining our eastern border. When I have lived out of state, or even gone to other countries, mentioning that I am from California is almost always invites whomever I am talking with to ask if I surf. Just in case you were wondering- no. It is way too cold, Northern California beaches are about five feet wide at low tide, and sharks like to hang out just off the coast since seals and sea lions are also fond of our shores, and are quite tasty to sharks. But again, my point is, mention California to anyone who is not from 'round here, and immediately people think of LA. Since LA is one of my least favorite areas of the state, I find this rather irksome.

Anyway, I would challenge anyone who doesn't think that it gets cold in California to spend a day with me in December or January at the Davis Farmer's Market. Yesterday (and it isn't even officially winter yet- we're still in autumn until the 21st) at the market I was wearing:

-silk long underwear (this is supposed to keep you warm in the Alps, much less at sea level)
-polyester long sleeved hiking shirt
-turtle neck
-fleece shirt
-wind breaker
-thick barn jacket with Thinsulate liner
-two layers of pants
-super thick insulating socks
-hiking boots

And I was still freaking cold. I do not know if I could put on enough clothes to stay warm in the winter. Still, we have had frost for the last week every morning, and we expect early morning temperatures in the 20s in January and February.

There are some good things about winter- for one thing, the flies in the barn get slow and easier to kill, and I've dried off the girls so I spend a little less time doing chores in the morning, and quite a bit less time in the evening. Farm life is good in that it keeps you looking forward- I am always thinking about several months from now... when kids hit the ground, when show season starts, when we need to plant our next set of trees that we'll struggle to keep alive during the harsh heat spikes of the summer, etc. At least it keeps my mind off of how cold it is, and how long it takes me to get ready to go out to the barn because of the layering that is needed. I know it would look weird, but it would be sort of nice to just grow a layer of cashmere in the fall like the goats do so I didn't have to put on 20 lbs. of clothing every time I need to spend more than five minutes out side.

Oh and one more thing- as you are doing your Christmas shopping, strongly consider buying locally, from small businesses and from those of us who hand make useful gifts. Unlike shopping at a corporate store, the vast majority of the money you give local crafters stays in the local economy and doesn't go to some far away headquarters. Also, take some time to visit your local farmer's market where, even with the cold, there is still plenty of produce in season, such as: squash, persimmons, parsnips, turnips, lettuce, mandarins, oranges, lemons, boc choi, apples (near the end of the apple season, but still quite a few varieties available), peas, green beans, chestnuts, and of course, almonds. We have had several very good salads recently with the lettuce from our garden, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that the pea plants produce soon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


See? I told you she was cute.

I decided years ago that if/when we added a canine to the farm that a Border Collie would be perfect, and that a perfect name for that dog would be Stella. I have no idea why- just sounded like a name I would like using for many years.

Also, there was already cinematic evidence that Stella sounds good when being yelled. After listening to the neighbors yell various dog names over the years, this seemed to be an important element of the dog's name.

Anyway, the rescue people asked me if I had thought about a name for our soon to be addition, I said I had been thinking of Stella-- at that moment Stella's head jerked up and she looked right at me as if to say, how did you know? So, that name stuck.

We of course cannot know for sure what Stella's life was like before she was found wandering around Calusa, with what the shelter people figured was her sister. My guess, based on her behavior, is that she and her sister were owned by a young man who lived with an older woman (this is based on the way she reacts especially positively to men of a certain age, and how much more negatively she reacts to women of a certain age). She gets very playful around 6pm, which I would guess means that said young man would play with the dogs when he got home from his job. With the way she fears brushes, and the be-socked feet of my mother-in-law, I would guess these were used against Stella.

Anyway, we started on clicker training today and it seems to be going pretty well, although she does get so excited about getting her reward when she is retrieving that she tends to drop whatever is in her mouth in anticipation of getting her reward when she is only half way to me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


So, I thought I would next post about summer, the AGS National show and our first Linear Appraisal. This is the time of year when I am extra busy with the business and with trying to get the does bred for spring and have composed many posts in my head, but have not gotten them up on the blog.

But, I am pretty excited about the newest addition to the farm. Thanks to the good folks at Northern California Border Collie Rescue, we have our very own eight-month old(ish) puppy now learning the ropes on the farm. For some reason, Blogger won't let me upload her picture, but trust me, she is cute. She is a smooth coated, black and white girl, on the smaller side of the size spectrum at only 32 pounds as of yesterday.

She likes:
Green lamb toy
Penut Butter
Chickens (a little too much)
Alfalfa stems

She Dislikes:
Most women (unless they *really* like dogs)
Retrieving citrus fruit

In the last three weeks she has learned:
Leave It
Not for Dogs
Come (about 90% reliable)
Go potty
Take it
That'll do (about 70% reliable)

I have to say, I was quite surprised by the fear of women thing. She even barks at the television when a woman is on giving the news of the day. We are working to socialize her so she will be better about this "issue", but the vet told us that the more into live stock border collies tend to be, the less social they are. The first ten days or so that she was here, it was like I had adopted a Secret Service agent instead of a dog. I could not even go from one side of the kitchen to the other with out her following me the few steps. She is starting to figure out that she doesn't have to keep her eye on me quite so closely, but definitely likes to stay in the same room.

As she is getting more comfortable here, her herding instincts are bubbling to the surface. She has started exhibiting some of the "eye" that border collies are known for, and is dropping to the ground on her own at least once a session when we are up with the bucks. She is really eager to work every day when we go out to do chores, she is very eager to get out and try to get the animals to move. The mature does have given her a few good hits, and Stella is a bit intimidated by them. Last night, Sky Lupine decided to turn the tables on Stella, running her out of the feeding area of the barn and confining her to about a five foot wide space. Forget Babe- the pig who could herd sheep-- I apparently have a goat who can herd dogs! In a way, I actually find the doe aggression towards dogs somewhat of a relief- if one of our llamas falls asleep on the job, at least I know I have a few does who will take a stand against the coyotes or stray dogs that may get into our pasture.

It is really neat to see Stella working- just how strong her instincts are, and that any time we go for a walk and she sees sheep (more common than goats along the roads we walk on), her whole attitude changes, she's focused, and ready to round those critters up. We haven't seen any evidence of her wanting to herd anything other than small ruminents, but she is still young.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Spring Summary

Now that summer is just a few days from being over, it seems like a good time to summarize how our spring went.

Our 2008 kidding season ended in the first half of May, with a grand total of 76 kids on the ground. This is the biggest kidding season so far, and honestly, I hope the biggest one ever. Too many bottle babies! Too many kids to disbud at a time! In previous years, there have always been some fall kids, but Andy wisely suggested that I refrain from any spring breedings because he could see even better than I could that I really needed a break.

Shortly after my last spring post, we checked on the titmouse family, and found six fat and happy fluff balls in the birdhouse, and as far as we could tell, they all successfully left home at the appropriate time. The kestrels fledged out four young kestrels from their birdhouse over the heat pump. A few pairs of tree swallows showed quite a bit of interest in the unoccupied bird house on what in wetter years would be our back lawn, but still no takers.

In more domestic bird news, a couple of our hens decided to hatch out some chicks, although it is becoming quite obvious that Blackbeard, our fairly laid-back Red Jungle Fowl-Auracana cross rooster is way too related to many of our hens, because quite a few of the chicks had "issues". I'd like to find him a new home, and he really isn't human-aggressive, so if anyone is interested, do let me know. We also added just under a dozen New Hampshire hens to the flock- a welcome infusion of youth since many of our hens are now in the 5+ year range (not to mention that the majority of our hens were done in by raccoons last summer). New Hampshires are in the background of Rhode Island Reds, but tend to run a bit bigger, and these hens seem to be more on the copper side of the color scale. They are a bit of a sentimental favorite- this is the type of chicken that I got from UC Davis when I was in fourth grade, and the last of those hens died when I was in college. They are considered somewhat of a rare breed these days, and I'm finding that these are quite a bit friendlier than most of the other breeds of chickens we currently have. I think the only chickens that may be bolder are our Speckeled Sussex hens, and those girls love to roam.

This is the fifth year that our property has had a break from the copious herbicides (and we suspect insecticides) that the previous owners used here. We've seen quite a bit of plant life come back to areas that were suspiciously bare, and the beneficial insects have come as well. You can sort of see a few of the lady bugs that we found all over the place in spring on the yarrow (picture at left)- there were about thirty on this plant alone. We've also seen quite a few mantis, and more butterflies later in the season than in previous years. We typically see Monarchs, Swallowtails, Buckeyes, and occasionally a small blue butterfly a biologist once told me was an "Echo Blue", but I haven't been able to find a butterfly by that name in any butterfly-identifying book. I also saw quite a few types of spiders I haven't ever seen before, as well as the wolf spiders I am (unfortunately) used to seeing in the barn.

We again got a fly predator subscription, and those little buggers work really well. What they don't get, the lizards that have moved into the barn seem to get. I think there are four western fence lizards living in the barn full-time right now- the one that hangs out in the area where I make soap has become so habituated to my presence that if I don't look out for it, it won't always scurry out of my path. I've recently seen some teeny lizards around the barn area, so apparently the lizards are happy enough to expand their population around here.

In my next post, I plan on doing a summer update, which will include the AGS National show, our first Linear Appraisal Session, and milk test.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sisyphus had a rock. I have young cottonwoods.

In the Greek myth, Sisyphus rolls a rock up a hill, gets it almost to the top, and then it rolls back down and he must start all over all while being in Tartarus (a version of the underworld) for eternity. This was a punishment for general misbehavior (to put it mildly) while he was alive.

While I am not being punished for general misbehavior (that I know of), I do have a sense of why this was quite a punishment. For the last four years, as part of restoring our farm to a more natural state, (and because we have an itty-bitty amount of shade), I have planted young, native cottonwood trees near the seasonal stream that runs along one side of our property. I probably would have given up if it weren't for the fact that there is a huge cottonwood tree on another fork of this stream that I can easily see from our property. There are many other cottonwood trees which look self-planted within short walking distance of our farm as well. So, I know they can live in this area given the right conditions. They grow quickly, which is a big plus for our shade-starved pastures, and they helpfully distribute water to the plants around them, which seems rather helpful, especially since the long-term plan is to bring more shrubs and slower growing trees to that part of the property.

The first attempt was made after we had lived here for about a year. After reading a native plant site that said you can plant and walk away from most California natives, we went to the local Conservation District plant sale and got (amongst other items) three or four cottonwoods. The watering system was turned on once or so a month, and everything was humming along, and then we had a heat spike of several days above 107 and the cottonwoods fried. This was also when we figured out that most native plants need at least a couple of waterings a month in order to get established.

The second attempt was made the following planting season. At some point, part of the irrigation system split open, which meant that even though we were turning on the water regularly, the area with the trees was not getting any water, but we were creating an out-of-season wetland in a part of the property we weren't visiting often.

The third attempt was last year after fixing the irrigation rupture. Due to many activities on our plates, many things were neglected, including turning on certain water systems. Again, fried trees.

So, last October, I got three new victims, um, I mean cottonwoods. This time, we were going to do it right. We waited until we got rain, and planted the trees in January. Two of the trees got companion shrubs that were to grow quickly to partially shade the trees during hot summer afternoons. Instead of having a few months of rain to get established as they would have in a normal year, they only got rain until February 29, when someone apparently turned off the rain for California. That's fine though, we checked the whole irrigation system, and replaced any non-functioning drippers. Every month, I checked every dripper to make sure that they were dripping and not clogged. Progress was made! The trees tripled in height, putting on a little under a foot of growth per month.

Then came the AGS Nationals, and we were away for a week of 106+ temperatures and no supplemental water for the cottonwoods. When we got home, a good deal of our plants were showing evidence of extreme heat stress, including all three cottonwoods. I saw a tinge of green on each tree though and gave them extra water in addition to what the regular system was giving them. New leaves started to appear and I went back to the regular watering schedule. In July, during my dripper check I was crushed to see that all three cottonwoods had again died back, but this time there was no green. Somehow, out of all of the drippers on the system, JUST the three for the cottonwoods had become clogged. The companion shrubs had their water. The buckeyes, sycamore, live oak, and black walnut seedlings had functioning drippers. But somehow, the cottonwoods had gotten cut off from the water supply, and in the heat of July had perished.


Not that I'm deterred.

For Sisyphus, the task was a punishment. For me, it's a challenge.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring is in the Air (and with it, lots of pollen)

I've drafted many posts for this much neglected blog over the past few months, but then wasn't able to get around to publishing them while they were still relevant. Finally, at 1am, I have some time!

We started kidding season on January 27 with a beautiful set of triplets out of Sky Lupine, and we're now up to 69 kids on the ground, with more on the way. We've had four sets of quadruplets so far, plus our first ever quintuplets (and from a first freshener no less), and our first ever sextuplets. Watching Bambi have her six kids was sort of like watching a clown car empty- the kids just kept coming and coming. I've never had this many kids in one year, let alone compressed into about two and a half months and I'm not sure that I'll ever have so many does kid at once again. It is nice to get to evaluate all of the does around the same time, but with the large number of first fresheners, getting all of those girls trained to the milking routine (and keeping it straight in my own mind) is making chore time extra-long. This year I have been letting pretty much all buck kids stay on their moms so I have less bottle feeding to do.

Andy and I have enjoyed watching spring unfold and the warmer longer days which allow us to be more comfortable working outside. As many visitors to our farm know, we are big fans of California native plants, and we've worked to incorporate many more of them onto the property while removing non-native invasive species. We managed to get quite a few new natives into the ground last fall and have spent the last month or so diligently checking on the plants (the spice bush is alive!) and updating each other on their progress (the black oak is leafing out!). We've been exceptionally pleased with the various California lilacs (aka ceanothus) blooming enthusiastically in their new homes. It seems to be a good year for brodea- a very pretty native bulb with purple flowers- in some areas around us, it fills entire meadows. I hope to have some pictures up soon of some of our natives in bloom.

The birdhouse we put up on our own house in an effort to appease the flickers so they wouldn't go after our eves with so much vigor has attracted a very different resident. For the second year in a row, a pair of kestrels is raising a family in that birdhouse, which is somewhat surprising because it is above our heat pump/air conditioner- not exactly the quietest location on the property. We see them often in the largest of our black walnut trees over by the garden and take a certain amount of pride in their return to the farm.

Another birdhouse, which is located on one corner of the garden, has a titmouse family in it. They're quite cute little birds and they swoop in and out of the house with an amazing amount of speed. In fact, we didn't even realize that anything had taken up residence in the birdhouse until Andy heard the peeping of the little ones. A third birdhouse does apparently remain empty, although we have seen western bluebirds checking it out for the last few years. We keep crossing our fingers that they'll move in, but apparently it hasn't quite passed inspection yet. I've also seen a pair of red tailed hawks gathering branches from some of our trees, so they must also be setting up house close by. We can hear ring-necked pheasants near us, and it sounds like wild turkeys are expanding their territory towards us as well.

Andy's been working to get the garden in for the spring- he planted seeds in the greenhouse quite a few weeks ago, and now that we've passed the last frost date, he's able to get some of the seedlings into the ground. Broccoli is in and will soon be joined by peppers, beans, tomato plants, and I believe zucchini will be joining them. We're also going to plant paddy pan squash (the ones that look like alien ships) and pumpkins around the stone fruits- the squash I've requested because the goats enjoy them so much when the squash get way beyond the size that any person would want to eat them. Andy is also planting some flowers for a cutting garden so I can enjoy some fresh flowers in the house. He has also discovered that in addition to the large western fence lizards who live in the greenhouse and keep the place virtually bug free, we now have some sort of frog amongst the seedlings. Between those critters and the ladybugs, we have a full range of natural pest control at our fingertips.

While I'm thinking of it, this month is also perfect for a few goat related items: check the tattoos in your goats' ears and/or tails as they may have faded over the winter. I've lost several legs on one doe in particular because her ears keep absorbing her tattoos. This is also a good time to order fly parasites. We had a subscription for them last year and they work so well. I would recommend them to absolutely anyone- they take the fly population down to about mid-winter levels, which is especially nice when it comes time to clip the girls since I have yet to find a fly spray that actually works.