The Grow Fish Eat REVIEW SHED!

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Fortefog Fumer

Now here's a bit of kit that you chicken keepers shouldn't be without.

It's part of keeping chickens and unavoidable. Your chickens need a fair degree of care and attention to keep them happy and healthy. And happy, healthy chooks lay fabulous, tasty eggs regularly.

Maybe you keep your chickens in the back garden, in a smart purpose built run. Or maybe they are lucky enough to be able to stretch their legs out in the open, free ranging in a field, orchard or pasture and strolling home to their shed at dusk. Either way, they probably (hopefully) spend their night locked up safe and snug in a chicken coop of some sort.

Of course a chicken coop is also a snug place for other, less welcome beasties to live. Nasty little critters that thrive on making your beloved chickens miserable and unhealthy and potentially end their little lives prematurely.

Red Mite (Dermanyssus gallinae)
This little fellow is one of the most prevalent parasites that may live in your chicken's lovely home. It's a blood sucking ecto-parasite that spends the daylight hours hidden in the cracks and crevices of your coop and like vampires, come out at night to jump onto your birds and feast on their blood. Gross eh? They cause Anemia in poultry and generally make the chickens run down and more susceptible to further, even more debilitating illnesses.
They are tiny, difficult to see with the naked eye, but if you've ever been in or near in infested coop, you will certainly feel them crawling on your skin, which is truly horrible. So imagine what it must be like for your chickens!
There are other nasty pests that are an issue to your birds - humble flies for example can be a killer if they are allowed to cause a problem in a chicken coop.

Smokers vs Chemical Sprays
In the past I've used various toxic chemicals in a sprayer to hose the interior of the chicken coops down. My own coops have little in the way of places for red mite to hide, but I dutifully clean them anyway - at least once a year, usually twice. With sprays, I need a good, warm day so that the coop will dry out again in time for the birds to go to bed. Sprays rarely get into every crevice and nook inside the coop, and that is where the beasties live. The run off from these toxic sprays is also a major prolem as it seeps into the ground around the coop.
It's important to realise that any insecticidal product is not free from environmental issues. The smoke should not be inhaled by the operator and care should be taken when handling the smokers. Saying that, the risk of chemical spillage is removed, the units are completely self contained and easy to use provided the necessary precautions are taken (easily and clearly shown on the supplied instructions).

Fortefog Mini 'P' Fumers
These fumers come in two sizes, a larger 11g size or a blister pack of 2x 3.5g insecticidal smoke generators. They are absolutely brilliant for controlling unwanted insect pests. Anything from mites, fleas, wasps, carpet beetles, weevils, mosquitos and many other beasties you may want to get rid of.

Here's how it works...

This type of coop has lots of nooks and crannies for wee beasties to hide...
Read the instructions! The smoker is placed on a plate or foil sheet to stop any potential fire risk and onto the bedding

Plug up all the coop openings to contain the smoke
Just light the fuse and get the hell out of there! Don't inhale the smoke. Shut the doors.
Some smoke will escape through the cracks! Leave the coop shut for two hours.
Obviously the chickens are outside the coop when you light the smoker! After a couple of hours, the smoke should have crept into all the little crevices and throughout the bedding killing anything that it comes into contact with.
The manufacturers recommend that a bad infestation of red mite or other insect problem be dealt with by administering a few doses over a period of 3-4 days to eradicate any nasties.

Here's a Youtube clip of a Fortefog Fumer in use...

Even if you don't keep chickens, you may have an insect problem that these little fumers can help with.
Check out the Grow Fish Eat Competition page to find out how you can win a fumer 'blister pack' courtesy of Hens for Pets. For you chicken keepers or wanna be chicken lovers, it's well worth checking out their site for more eggcellent chickeny things!

Happy chickens!


Opinel Folding Pocket Knives...

A pocket knife is of those tools that you can always do with having around. If you need to cut away side-shoots from a tomato plant, slice through a mushroom foraged from the forest floor, or trim a fishing line in a boat in the middle of a lake, a pocket knife with a good sharp blade is always a good idea. I've always carried one since my Scouting days (dib, dib, dib) and would never be without one now.

My usual knife has always been of the Swiss Army type, with the multi-tools etc., but I've recently found these to be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none type tool . So I've been looking for a decent pocket knife, with a safe folding blade that won't spring open in my pocket (ouch!) and that will last me a long time.

Now there are so many knives on the market that it has been a bit bewildering to choose one. I don't like the idea of spending lots of dosh on a fancy mother-of-pearl encased knife that wouldn't look out of place in Liberace's sequin encrusted jacket pocket.

Laguiole (a place rather than a distinct particular 'maker' of French knives) looked promising but I was unsure as to whether I wanted to spend the best part of £60.00 for something that may have been made in Asia and 'assembled' in France.What I needed was a reasonably priced, quality folding blade that was traditional in style but reliable and hard wearing.

Enter the Opinel Traditional. Opinel have quite a large range of their classic knife with many different blade lengths. One of the most widely used is the No.8 which has a blade length of 8.5cm and is small enough to be fairly unobtrusive but not so large that when extended it'll prove unwieldy.

Opinel knives have a distinctive design. The blade folds neatly and securely into the handle which is usually made from traditional hardwoods such as Oak, Walnut, Olive wood and Beech and all have a lovely natural feel to them.

The blades themselves are made from good quality stainless steel and also high-carbon steel which sharpens really well to a fine, razor edge.

If you're after a more specialist folding knife, Opinel offer some variations on the classic design such as a mushroom knife that has a cleaning brush at one end, a curve bladed pruning knife, a garden knife, and a folding saw knife, handy for those pesky, woody shrubs that need pruning. Check out the complete range of Opinel knives at lakeland bushcraft and get yourself one of these incredibly useful and essential bits of kit that won't break the bank.