Terrible, terrible ticks

Tick on Baxter's leg

Ticks have been awful this spring.

We’ve removed more than 20 ticks from Baxter, ourselves and various surfaces in the house. Matt has expanded and extended pathways all around the farm so that we can avoid the long grass of the fields. We’ve made tick checks part of our regular routine every time we come into the house.

Container of ticks

I try not to worry about them too much. I know some ticks can carry dangerous illnesses, but we’re diligent checking ourselves and the dog regularly and pulling off any we find. (I wrote an article for ThatMutt.com about techniques for protecting Baxter from ticks.) As much as the quantity of ticks we’ve faced this spring is an anomaly, I feel like ticks are part of living on the farm.

However poor Matt is losing his mind. He’s mowed so much grass this spring–determinedly riding Wiley around on tick killing missions.

The one upside of this plague is that adding birds to our family has moved up our list. Hens, particularly guinea hens, eat ticks. Birds have always been on our someday list, but Matt has put them on the “we need to kill these ticks now” list. When my husband makes a decision, things happen fairly quickly.

Tick held in tweezers

After that statement, you might expect to see a picture of a cute fluffball chick or a feathered hen here. We’re not that impetuous. First we will build the coop and then we will get our birds. But I think we may have found our summer project.

Any coop building tips to share? Or any tick fighting strategies? Do you have ticks at your house? What pests are you battling this spring?

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16 thoughts on “Terrible, terrible ticks

  1. I invested in tick tweezers because I had often removed only their butt, and the head remained. I keep one in the car and one in the bathroom so they are always at hand.
    I can’t wait to see the coop!

    • Our vet gave us a hook-like remover, but we found we’ve been most successful with tweezers. You’re smart to keep them in two spots. We keep carrying ours back and forth between the mudroom (where we check Bax) and the bathroom (where we mostly check ourselves).

  2. Our coop was a grain bin that we converted into a coop by removing the metal floor and outside drier so the chickens could use the pit to walk through the tunnel to the outside. Outside, we built a run for them. We don’t let them roam however as we get dogs and coyotes running through and I’d hate to see the results of that! We do have a free range pea hen and hope to add 2 more soon. I have heard guineas are good also. Good luck!

    • I’m going to look up pea hen now. Are they similar to guineas? I’m a little reluctant about guineas given how I’ve heard about noise and other nuisances.

      We won’t be free ranging our hens unless we’re home to supervise. I grew up with hens in a covered run where they could go in and out as they pleased, and that seemed to work really well. It sounds similar to your setup (minus the grain bin).

  3. We have picked up ticks on our tree farm on several occasions. All bugs love me, while husband seldom gets bitten. Go figure. After ending up at Dr.’s Care for two bad, unknown, bug bites, and a course of antibiotics and steroid cream, I purchased, on line, the netting pants and top with hood. Covers face and head. I wear them now before I step out of our truck. Last trip I only got one bite, on my ankle, so they definitely worked. I also sprayed with permethrin around ankles, but socks and shoes were still not protected, thus, the ankle bite. Of course, I know covering up like this is not for everyone, but I am a believer, since I must be allergic to bug bites. We do check ourselves also for ticks as we have detected them on our body. Don’t know why they are so bad this year. Poor Baxter, too. Give him hugs for me.

    • Thanks, Lynn. Bugs seem to love Bax and Matt like they love you. I’m more like your husband, fortunately. Your situation sounds very serious, though. You’re smart to protect yourself, even if it’s not the most pleasant way to enjoy the outdoors.

  4. I had heard they were particularly bad in Ontario this year. Ticks are so nasty!! We’ve pulled a few off of Bear, though none this year yet. I hope you get some relief with all the mowing and path extensions. You’re doing what you need to do!

  5. I commented on Instagram, but I will chime in again. Ticks have been really bad around here this year. Like I mentioned on my other comment, we don’t have very many trees so we don’t seem to get them at our house (I have pulled one from our cat but she is more likely to roam in the neighbor’s woods.) but at my parents house I find them all of the time. I pulled one off of my stomach on Easter and I had an itchy spot for several weeks. I am keeping an eye out for Lyme Disease symptoms because that seems to be very common here. I can count several people along with several of our dogs that have had Lyme Disease.

  6. We have ticks in PA but the field mice have found a home in various parts of garden. Only by excessive maintenance to keep overgrowth at bay have we dealt with them. Later the hawks and garden snakes do their part.

  7. I haven’t seen any ticks here in San Diego. I’m sure we have them but not anywhere near as bad as other areas obviously. I know there are more in the northern part of the state where we’re planning on going with the dogs in July. We protect them with a prescription oral med called Trifexis which is supposed to also protect them from fleas and heartworms. I don’t really worry about ticks or heartworm. For us, it’s fleas that can be a big pain.

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