What ticks you off? I have quite a laundry list. Now, don’t get me wrong. I do the whole zen thing… I even bought a Tai Chi dvd (not as easy as it looks) but when it comes to actual ticks…. oh boy, I come unglued. Like papier-mâché left in the rain… unglued!
Almost all ticks belong to one of two major families, the Ixodidae or hard ticks, which are difficult to crush, and the Argasidae or soft ticks. Adults have ovoid or pear-shaped bodies which become engorged with blood when they feed, and eight legs. As well as having a hard shield on their dorsal surfaces, hard ticks have a beak-like structure at the front containing the mouth parts whereas soft ticks have their mouth parts on the underside of the body. Both families locate a potential host by odor or from changes in the environment.
Ewwwww. I’d rather watch cement dry than have to think about checking for and pulling out ticks from the various places they ingratiate themselves. Ick. How do I protect my family going forward. What to do? Let’s see what the experts say to do:
- Use a chemical repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin. Ummm, no to DEET.
- Wear light-colored protective clothing. Because ticks don’t like periwinkle or buttercup yellow. Isn’t most clothing “protective”? Unless you wear your transparent clothing then it’s all up for grabs…
- Tuck pant legs into socks. Ya, did that. Ticks don’t care. Like honey badgers.
- Avoid tick-infested areas. Brilliant, why didn’t I think of that.
- Check yourself, your children and your pets daily for ticks and carefully remove any ticks you find. That’s not exactly keeping them OFF me now is it?
None of these things seemed like a real solve to me until I remembered…I bet you beat me to the punch… Guinea Fowl!
Let me explain how my rant began: Our farm is 60 acres of pure Tickland (minus the fun stuff like a farris wheel and cotton candy), a full blown adventure park that brings in tons of these little pests. It’s like a tick pilgrimage. They all pack their little bags and come to us from the corners of the earth!
When we discovered what was to become our farm, our first trip to visit it was… interesting. Never having lived in an area with a tick problem, we boldly marched across 60 acres of land unprotected, unabashed and unaware. When we got back to the hotel and undressed, we were unimpressed by the little hitchhikers that TOTALLY FREAKED ME OUT! Unbelievable!
After a lovely evening of repeatedly asking Mr. Bluejeans to look here or look there because I just knew there were still ticks running about my person, Guineas popped into my head. Years ago I heard of Guinea Fowl (or hens) and filed away the information about their amazing bug and tick eating abilities. I knew then and there that no matter what land we bought, these tick eating machines were going to be a part of the farm.
Once we purchased what is now 5 Dog Farm, we spoke about closing down Tickland. Permanently. Mr. Bluejeans found this informative book about Guinea Fowl on Amazon and I devoured it about 2 days. It’s a used book so you may have to search for it. Raising them is a bit different from chickens and I do hope to “train” them enough to follow me around as the book says this can happen. I at least want them more interested in me than the ticks seem to be.
As with ALL things that seem too good to be true… the problem with Guineas is that they are loud. No. Not loud…LOUD!!!!! Like a bunch of geese, each with their own megaphone LOUD.
Needless to say the hens are on order. Should be arriving in June. Those little ticks should start packing their bags if they know what’s good for them. Tickland is closed indefinitely!
If Guinea Fowl aren’t your thing, you can always resort to these little tick pickers. At least they don’t come with megaphones, but what fun is that?
Have you had tick issues? How do you cope?