Ticks — The Uninvited Guests

ImageI’ve gotta say this one thing.  The ticks out here on the farm are enough to drive you to distraction if you let them.  I’ve always been a little creeped out by spiders up close, and ticks are from the same family. Plus, they move relatively fast in your direction when they are on the quest for human BLOOD.  Ick.  This blog entry is not for the faint of heart.

I am curious whether the tick population is spiked this year in Michigan due to weather conditions, because it seems like you can’t make a move into the yard or garden without finding one crawling on you.  Of course, the dog is a fine carrier and I have to check him frequently.  The flea and tick medicine we give Fionn does a good job of killing them off before they do him any harm, but that doesn’t discourage them from hanging on for the ride into the house.

So, what do you do about it?  We don’t want to live in a constant fog of pesticide.  I don’t want to run screaming from every “bug” I see.  The best I’ve been able to do is to learn to be matter of fact about it and keep alert to their presence.  It surprises me how sensitive my sense of touch is when I pay attention to it because I have responded to that creepy-crawly feeling many times to actually find one climbing the Nancy mountain on its way to the summit.  I think the ultimate goal of a tick is to get into the human scalp.

So, we check ourselves frequently and whenever we find a tick we quickly dispatch it to the toilet and flush it down.  A lot of water for one miniscule bug, but they are quite hard to kill and I don’t want them climbing out of the wastebasket.  I have a friend from Montana who believed the only way to really kill a tick was to burn it alive.  That seems extreme and impractical to me.

Lyme disease is a real concern, though, so you do have to be diligent and keep them off of you.  We rarely find one that has had a chance to attach but when we do we keep an eye on the spot over the next week and if we ever do see the telltale bullseye rash around it we will head straight to the doctor.  So far, so good.

What I am hoping is that this is just a springtime phenomenon and that soon we can move on to other insect-related concerns.  The deer flies have arrived and are happily munching on us when we work in the garden.  These nasty little guys bite and the hard little welt that appears the next day itches like mad.Image

My sister has tried all kinds of clever mechanisms to discourage them, including mosquito net hats and sticky strips that are designed to attract and catch them when they land on your head.  I don’t believe any of these have been very effective.  Once again, spraying “Off” on yourself may help but you end up so stinky and if you get sweaty it can get into your eyes.

Bottom line, life on the farm has its disadvantages and irritations.  I think my best defense has been acceptance.  You can’t be too squeamish about a fact of life if you want to be happy living amongst it.  Just learn to deal with it and don’t work too hard at eliminating things you really can’t control.  The benefits of living in nature and enjoying the beauty and joy of this kind of a life outweigh the annoyances for me.


About bluestempond

Hobby farmer living at Bluestem Pond in Michigan.
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7 Responses to Ticks — The Uninvited Guests

  1. Lynda says:

    You might consider Guinea Hens. Lots of them.

    HA! Some days they drive me to distraction with their loud, and sharp sounding calls, but then I feel better knowing they are on the hunt for all those bugs and TICKS. 😉

    • bluestempond says:

      That’s something I’m going to take seriously next spring. We still have to get the house in order and build a chicken coop, but I think we could let our fowl wander during the day. What an added benefit if they can clear out some of the ticks!

  2. Lynda says:

    If you do get guineas to go with your chickens, don’t be surprised if at some point the guineas start roosting in the trees. I have only had one that thought she was a chicken and would come home to the roost every night. The rest of them only come around for the grub now.

    • bluestempond says:

      If they don’t roost in the coop, do you keep them for eggs, meat, or just entertainment?

      • Lynda says:

        Meat: I will eat it but my husband won’t.
        Eggs: I will eat them but my Husband won’t.
        Entertainment: How do you define entertainment? 😉

        My value in having them is strictly for bug control, and they really do a good job. 🙂

  3. Hebron Acres says:

    Down here in Missouri, at least on our small farm, we’re experiencing an explosion in the tick population. Our deer population is very high, so I assume that helps drive the tick numbers up. I can’t work a few hours out on the farm without coming inside and being inspected by my wife who invariably will pull 5-6 off me and 4-5 more out of my work clothes. It’s a bit frustrating, but I hate to put DEET on me, but I’m about to that point. I see the buggers crawling everywhere.

  4. bluestempond says:

    Well, then, I guess I’m not alone! Look at Lynda’s guinea hen idea. Maybe it would work for you, too.

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