Our dear sweet Gertrude is across the street, but this time it’s not because she escaped.
Neighbor Dale offered us his currently-unoccupied, well-fenced pastures for Gerty’s use, while we wait for the monsoon season to end so we can set posts and create a more stable fence system in the pasture. She is lovin’ it out there, by all appearances. And we’re lovin’ that she can’t escape; anxiety level = lowered.
HOWEVER. Dale’s pasture is chicken-less, and large, and full of tall grass. And it’s getting warmer, and it’s been raining a TON, and we’re in the Ozarks. All those things mean dear sweet Gertrude is now being preyed upon by all manner of ticks. Chickens eat ticks (but she’s not with the chickens anymore), ticks love tall grass, warmth brings out the larvae, and rain does the same. And it’s not as though the ticks are killing her, but there does exist a slight risk of disease for her, or at least diminished health.
I hate ticks. They might actually be worse than fireants, which I hated with a burning passion (pun intended) when we lived in south Texas. Supposedly fireants can help control tick populations, but we’re short on fireants here in central Missouri (which is just fine). So what to do?
A host of chemicals stand ready to aid us in our attempt to rid Gerty of these parasites. No thanks. All-natural cow for us, please (or as close as we can get).
In doing internet research, I stumbled across an article from 1999, in the New York Times. You can find it here.
The gist of the article was that, while no perfect solution exists to the eternal tick problem, guinea fowl might come closer to it than most. Apparently even better than our chickens (who are decent foragers, but you can tell their hearts aren’t always in it). The wikipedia article on “ticks” gives similar intimations, even going so far as to say two guinea fowl can clear two acres of land in one year. So one bird per acre per year. I don’t know if I believe those numbers. Could be a wikipedia saboteur. However, enough voices and evidence – even studies like this one – give testament to the usage of guinea fowl for tick control to make me want to try it. Plus, you get eggs.
The down side – guinea fowl are loud and annoying. But surely no more annoying than the hot rod zooming up and down our street, right?
We’ll give it a shot – once Gerty is back home – and keep you posted on her tick count. In the meantime, I’ll relish the satisfaction in murdering them individually as I pick them off her neck.
Also, here’s a picture of my Saylor.
He’s the cutest thing in the world, and I miss him and Kate so much – they’re away for 10 days seeing South Carolina family.