Posts Tagged ‘ tick control ’

I Heart Chickens

My porch is completely covered in gooey, green chicken poo, but I haven’t had a tick on me in a month. To some, this may seem like bad news, but to me it’s like six pounds of miracle all wrapped up in black and white striped feathers.

About a month ago I smuggled some chickens off my dad’s farm (he didn’t miss them) and brought them to Jefferson to live with me. I had my doubts about how effective they would be at tick control but literally within a day or two I noticed a difference.

Throughout the month of May I had pretty much given up on doing anything outside for each time I’d venture farther than my porch, I’d come back in the house crawling with the eight-legged menaces. One weekend in particular I think I pulled almost a dozen off myself. After a two-week stretch of lyme hypochondria I decided that I had to get tough.

We went to our local hardware store and purchased mass quantities of the foulest poisons available without a permit. I dumped gallons of this stuff all over my yard. The ticks were supposed to die, ironically, however, they seemed to multiply.

I was telling my dad about how horrible it had gotten up here and he suggested that I grab some of his chickens. At first I was reluctant because I worry about being able to take care of farm animals. I’ve had chickens on two other occasions and let’s just say that between coyotes and stray dogs, I wasn’t too successful.

Daddy alleviated my worries by assuring me that he really didn’t care whether they lived or died, so putting my premonitory guilt aside, I took six of them. Two roosters and four hens. I removed everything that wasn’t in use from my garden shed and burned it in my fire pit (one thing in two things out rule – I’ll explain in another blog post!). We spread around some hay that my mother gave me and locked them in for a day until they were good and hungry.

The next morning we unleashed them on the yard. At first they seemed unsure of what to do; instead of eating bugs they followed us around like two-legged, feathered dogs. I grabbed a handful of pellets and led them over to the back yard (which I believe was our main area of infestation), sowing food where I wanted them to peck. Within a half hour they were completely absorbed in their task, furiously scratching up the oak leaves and scoffing up anything their little beaks could grab.

Believe it or not, that was the last day we had what I’d call a major tick problem. Since that time we’ve only been able to find three ticks and two of them actually came from my roof. Since the chickens don’t get up there, I’m assuming they fell from the trees above.

I love my chickens. I can’t say it enough! I will say, however, that there are two distinct downfalls to owning them. First, they are hell on flower gardens. Once my ticks were under control I thought that I could get out in the yard and do some gardening. I did get some beds weeded and plants moved, but the chickens soon decimated all new plantings. Oh, and they love Hosta. I don’t mean they cuddle with it and chirp sweet nothing to its leaves, I mean they are absolutely ravenous for it. I had about five giant clumps of this plant growing in the garden in front of my porch and within a matter of days they had reduced these decade old plants to a shredded mass of oozing chlorophyll. Needless to say, I can deal with having no Hosta so long as the ticks are a thing of the past. Some plants that I haven’t noticed them touching are my Astilbe, Day Lily’s and Sedum.

The second thing about the chickens that I could do without is their incessant need to follow us around. We took the dogs for a walk yesterday and as funny as this sounds, all five chickens followed us nearly out to the main road. We live about 900 feet from it… I’m just glad they turned around before we got into traffic because it would have been a tad bit embarassing to say the least.

Speaking of my amazing little pest control devices, they need to be ticked (typo! hahaha) in for the night.