Living in the country has many blessings: clean air, less traffic, mountain views, freedom for my children to roam, wildlife. There are also trade-offs: it takes more gas to go anywhere, dirt road=dusty house, wildlife. Normally I don’t mind the wildlife. We’ve seen coyotes, bob-cats, grey and red foxes, wild boars, bears, deer, all sorts of picturesque animals. Other wildlife are not so welcome: rattlesnakes, copperheads, flies.
Other than a healthy respect for wearing closed-toe shoes in the woods and the occasional poisonous snake that comes too near our home, or the bear that likes our garbage cans, we generally aren’t bothered by the wildlife. Except for the flies. And it is fly season here on our mountain. I suspect the flies get lost on their way to chicken houses down the hill, or perhaps they just see our home as a nice place to visit. Whatever their reason for stopping in, I have no patience for them. Sometimes I think I can understand just at tiny bit how the Egyptians must have felt after being cursed with flies. It’s a wonder Pharaoh didn’t just give in then. It is obvious to me that the Lord had a divine purpose–flies are enough to drive anyone mad!
There is an art to fly extermination, especially if you are of a more “organic” mindset and don’t wish to poison your children’s environment. We have the standard summer-time decorations up: fly ribbons. I have yet to find curtains that go with that particular shade of amber brown, but I always feel a bit smug when I have to pull a full paper down. Of course the Good Book tells us that pride goeth before the fall, and the fly papers always seem to strike back. Fly paper you your hair is not so fun. The trick is to remember to remove the remote ones when fly season is over (the ones in places like the children’s bathroom where I seldom venture.) There are few things quite as gross as an out-of-season fly ribbon, except perhaps an in-season FULL fly ribbon. Tackiness (and puns) aside, fly ribbons are great!
Our best weapon against the flies is our arsenal of fly swatters. We have invested in enough for every child to have at least one, and the more talented ones can handle two. Our toddler is learning how to handle a fly swatter. Some kids learn how to ride ATVs. Our kids learn how to swat flies. It serves a dual purpose as cheap entertainment. I’ve been known to tell my children that they can have a snack once they’ve killed 50 flies.
We are finicky about our fly swatters. They have to have metal handles with a flappy plastic swatter. We’ve tried the industrial-looking fly swatters made by a well-known company, but we find that they are too big to make a quick swipe. The ones with plastic handles wouldn’t kill, well, a fly. It takes the right equipment to tackle the fly extermination job.
It also takes a quick hand to get these flies. They know a rookie and will escape. We’ve even seen flies play dead. I know their tiny little brains can’t process the idea of playing dead; I think they just get stunned and fall over on their sides. After a while they will begin to move and then fly away. They also survive drowning. A doctor friend of mine once demonstrated resurrecting a drowned fly. (Yes, I have strange friends.) All in all, what that means is that it takes skill to kill a fly the first time.
I wouldn’t trade living in the country for anything, and I thank God every morning when I wake up and see the sun rising over the trees to the east. (That is when I am up early enough to see that—sometimes I just thank God I am up!) I do have to wonder, though, what the fly was originally supposed to do in Eden. What was its job before the fall of creation? I suppose I won’t know until I get to heaven, and I have a sneaky suspicion I will probably forget all about our pesky little fly problem once I get there. Until then, I’ll keep waging war on the flies. It is a cost of living in our red-neck paradise.