Life and thoughts from a small-scale organic farm . . . and its farmers

This is a blog that explores ideas around the growing of food and community at Glen Valley Organic Farm.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Farm Fashion: Dressing for Mosquitos

Fashion isn't something we pay much attention to on the farm. I realize that I don't pay much attention to this until I go into the city. My dress code seems to have paused the moment I moved onto the farm. I don't fit in on the streets of Vancouver.

This is, for the most part, a good thing. We shop at thrift stores and can purchase an entire season's wardrobe for under $50. Moreover, once mosquito season arrives we have few qualms about dressing for the pests, not for style.

We don't use chemical mosquito sprays (not to mention sunscreen) on the farm. Imagine exposing yourself to the chemicals in these products every day. Plus, they help dirt stick to your skin and clog pores, making sweating difficult. Plus, they're expensive if you're reapplying them every couple of hours.

Jeremy, above, demonstrates sensible mosquito attire. Mosquitos are less attracted to light colours. Long sleeves and collared shirts help keep the mosquitos off our limbs and necks. And extra shirt around the head keeps the pests off our ears, heads and faces, depending on how they're wrapped.

Also of note, Jeremy's outfit is also great sun protection. Light, long-sleeve shirts are cool and keep skin covered. The head gear can be replaced by a hat when the bugs aren't as bad.

Barb, on the other hand, sports a sensible bug shirt. These are practical shirts made of netting that makes it difficult for mosquitos to bite. They can be awkward on the face when doing certain tasks, and they don't offer sun protection, but are useful overall. I use a similar shirt for milking and other farm tasks at various points during the day when the sun isn't shining.

New apprentices on the farm often learn about the mosquitos through trial and error. Kate and Sean, above, posed for this photo last week. They noted that the mosquitos weren't too bad. Sean's bandana functioned more for style than protection.

By later in the week, Sean had switched to a bug shirt. He also made a trip into town to purchase white t-shirts (previously, he only owned black).

I found Kate in the fields on Friday, harvesting salad in rain gear (notice that it's sunny out). The mosquitos were causing her grief. The long sleeves provided some protection from the blood-suckers. Today she also has a series of bandanas wrapped around her face.

Sheila makes use of a kerchief in the field along with light-coloured, long-sleeved, collared shirts.

Finally, keeping mosquitos off of children without the use of deet is a challenge. Paige managed to put together a set of t-shirt hoods for the children that keeps the bugs out of ears, hair and necks.

The mosquitos in the Fraser Valley are plentiful this year. With the high river levels, all of the ditches are backed up and the standing water across pastures and dugouts provided ideal habitat for mosquito larvae. It has been wet and the mosquitos have benefited tremendously.

If you have any tips on keeping the mosquitos at bay, we'd love to hear.

1 comment:

  1. Products that are lemongrass based that are being touted on all sorts of "mommy forums" these days. How useful they are with "real" farm mosquitos I don't know - I found a study that shows Deet based are 81% effective and lemongrass oil is 51% effective. Many in my family swear by just eating a tonne of garlic.