When I got to Hanaeleh today, I was greeted by this little dude, who was just hangin’ out on the ATV:
I took a picture, and he just sat and stared at me the entire time, posing with his little head cocked to the side like that. I left him to his pose and went to start my chores at the barn, but this little mantis dude got me to thinking about what we do at Hanaeleh that keeps Hanaeleh relatively environmentally friendly to many of our friends in nature and allow us to use as few resources as necessary:
1. Flies/ants/etc.- we try not to use any pesticides when dealing with unwanted critters. Red ants are an invasive species, and our policy is that we don’t really want to kill them- we just don’t want them around (they are more than welcome to move 50 yards away where they won’t bother the horses). In order to try to show that they are unwanted, we sprinkle diatomaceous earth (DE) on the ant hills and around the corrals. DE has very sharp edges (it just feels like powder to our hands, but to insects it’s very sharp), so the ants and other insects don’t really care to walk on it. Think of it as a big “NO TRESPASSING” sign. It also will absorb moisture and can kill them if they insist on walking on it.
Because we don’t use pesticides, we can allow our chickens to wander around and eat insects without fear that they may be poisoned. The chickens have been very helpful in keeping insects from infiltrating our grain and they also will scratch through the manure and eat fly larvae. To get rid of flies, we have bags with water and a fly attractant- the flies go into the bag and cannot get out- there is no poison, so if the bag gets taken down by an animal they won’t get poisoned (although they may smell badly). We also release “fly predators,” little bugs that are about a half a centimeter in length. These little guys eat fly larvae, preventing the flies from reproducing, but they are so small that they don’t bother us humans or the horses. We do have topical fly spray we use when grooming the horses, but we also keep the horses covered with fly masks and fly wraps so they are comfortable. We don’t have automatic fly sprayers because they can spray into the horse’s eyes, and the spray can land on the hay or feed, and the horses can ingest the pesticide, making them sick. Our dumpster is emptied twice a week in order to try to eliminate the flies before their eggs can hatch.
2. Weeds- we have three lovely sheep to thank for the fact that we have almost no weeds. We do pull the weeds that crop up that the sheep don’t care for, but there aren’t too many of them, and are easily cleared up during our work days. This allows us to keep the weeds down and we don’t have to spray any chemicals that can be dangerous or even deadly to our horses/sheep/chickens/cats. The bark/mulch we put down on the ground also helps to prevent unwanted weeds.
3. Rodents- we have four barn kitties who are excellent at scaring away small critters… well, for the most part; sometimes they just watch the little guys run around. We feed the kitties everyday, so if they don’t catch any critters it’s OK- in fact, I’m happy if they don’t catch them, but just chase them away. We also do our best to keep our grain covered and keep the sheds swept out to prevent the critters from making their homes in our sheds.
4. Recycling water- all of our horses have automatic horse waterers, so we do not have to fill up large buckets which can potentially overrun. The waterers hold five gallons of water and are made of plastic, so the water does not get too hot (otherwise the horses may not drink). Every Saturday we clean out the horse waterers. Instead of just dumping the water, we recycle this water to clean the feeders, salt licks, and we water our plants and trees with the leftovers. This act once a week helps to recycle approximately 50 gallons of water. We also have “fans” on all but two of our hoses, so when we wash the horses we can easily turn the water on and off, preventing any waste.
5. Manure- unfortunately, we do not have a large enough facility to compost our manure, but Waste Management does know that we throw away manure in the dumpster, and they earmark our dumpster for recycling and composting. I would rather compost the manure ourselves, but since that is not an option, at least we know that the manure is being used in an environmentally-friendly way.
We are open to other suggestions, so if you have any ideas as to how we can be more environmentally friendly, please feel free to send an e-mail to: email@example.com. While our main goal is to help rescue horses, we like our little friends like the Mantis dude who come to say hi, and we hope to encourage more visits from our more friendly neighbors.