TURNER — Nose wrinkled in disgust, Lynne Barlow stood examining one of 12 heavily laden fly strips in her garage.

“Eww, some of them are still alive,” she said. “They’re moving.”

Lynne and her husband, Russ, said they have been waging a war against the flying vermin for four of the five years they have lived on General Turner Hill Road.

“It just makes you want to cry,” Barlow said of not being able to enjoy the home they had worked so hard to build.

The hilltop property, with views of Mount Washington from the back patio, seems idyllic, nestled in the country. But farm country has it drawbacks.

The Barlows’ home is a stone’s throw from Moark Egg Farm, a major producer of eggs as well as chicken manure — a perfect breeding ground for flies.

The flies would be bad enough on their own, Russ Barlow said, if the manure wasn’t being imported to their hilltop neighborhood to be liberally spread on the field across the road. Lynne Barlow pointed out another loaded fly strip she has to keep in their SUV.

Flies buzzed around in the garage, landing on people, vehicles and amassing on the ceiling. Outside, flies buzzed around the Barlows and their dog, Ginger, covering the siding and gathering in the eaves.

“We’ve had to take the screens out of the windows,” Lynne said. She said she would often see flies attempt to wriggle through the mesh to get inside. “They would just sit and look at you,” she said.

In an effort to live as fly-free as possible, the Barlows have installed a $5,000 air-conditioning unit because they can’t open their windows to enjoy the fresh air.

Lynne showed off her arsenal of anti-fly weapons: strips, sprays and an electrified tennis racket their neighbor gave them as a gift of commiseration. “They explode on here,” Lynne said.

Russ Barlow said they have been to the meetings with the town selectmen and people from Moark. “It’s all about money,” he said.

“We’re lucky,” he said of the couple’s ability to afford to create their bug bunker on the hill. The Barlows said they feel for their neighbors who are going through the same infestation.

Up the road, Shirley and Gerry Lemelin laughed, saying, “Come join us and sit with the flies.”

“You should have been here the other day,” Gerry Lemelin said. Not only was the couple’s car covered, but “you could open the door and flies would come pouring out.” They laughed about driving down the road with flies pouring out the windows.

The Lemelins blame much of the fly problem on the use of chicken manure across the road and say they have been there long enough to remember when the land was an apple orchard.

“We were here before all this came along,” Shirley Lemelin said. “All of a sudden, they start dumping chicken manure — it’s pretty nasty, pretty unsanitary for us.”

The couple’s day care center revealed the same sticky insect graveyards as those at the Barlows, a stark contrast to the bright posters and super-clean appearance of the center.

Gerry Lemelin said some of his neighbors think speaking out about the fly problem will be misconstrued as being anti-farmer, a notion he said can’t be further from the truth. “But that’s how they feel when you’re speaking against the flies and the manure, because that’s part of their life.”

Neighbor Allison Newton said the situation is “honestly like a horror movie in my house. The window is black, the walls are black and moving as is the ceiling.”

Dozens complain to selectmen

About 50 nervous residents converged on the selectmen Monday night to complain about the flies that are making their lives miserable. It was the second invasion of people coming before the board to find some relief.

State Rep. Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner, was back again to confront the people crowding the small board room. He reported on what he had done since the meeting June 2 when residents first made known their problem with flies. It appeared that the crowd was larger Monday night.

Timberlake said he had been talking with the Maine Department of Agriculture and egg farm representatives. “They really want to be good neighbors and have spent thousands of dollars on new machines to help clean the pits of manure. They are being aggressive.”

Ellis Additon, state director of agriculture, food and rural resources, said they had tested the flies and they are all just house flies, not biting flies. He said, “Moark is doing everything we would have suggested. The key is getting the manure dry.”

Ken Gruver of Moark said the company had added a third compost machine and was working on drainage. “We are really embarrassed that the situation has gotten out of hand,” he said.

Resident Craig Poland said the compost was not working. He suggested covering the pits to keep them dry and covering outside piles with plastic.

Timberlake said it was not an overnight fix and flies get immune to chemicals that are used too frequently.

Selectman Ralph Caldwell said they used to whitewash barns with some kind of chemical that was effective, but it was taken off the market. He questioned Additon about whether the town could get emergency use of effective chemicals to get rid of the flies. Additon thought the idea was not feasible.

One unidentified resident expressed concern over chemical use, because Turner sits on an aquifer and the person didn’t want the water to be poisoned.


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