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Summer in the Arkansas Ozarks

 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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If you are considering a move to the Arkansas Ozarks, check out summer first. Unless you plan to live in a climate controlled box and never venture out, you will be meeting all sorts of critters...many helpful and harmless...and then there are those that are not. Add to that the dependably hotter and dryer June, July and August. For some,the low cost of land, low taxes and nonexistant rural building codes won't balance out the daily ticks and chiggers, the occasional copperhead in the garden, the blood sucking conenose in your bed, brown recluses in every undisturbed corner of the house.....some years prolific black widows in every outdoor hidey hole. I know every area has it's downside. I am trying to look at this with 'the problem is the solution' kind of mindset
 
Renate Howard
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Location: zone 6b
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You left out scorpions and tarantulas! When I lived there we had this golden brown carpet and it was the same color as the scorpions that would come in and roam around at night. We had to be *so* careful not to step on them if we had to get up during the night! I threw rocks at a tarantula once because it was in my way, to try to get it to move. It moved alright! Jumped like 4 feet right at me! Oh the stories I could tell!

Here's how AR people cope. Guineas will kill snakes, even poisonous ones. They also eat ticks, spiders, and scorpions. Chickens eat ticks too and stay home better. Don't try to do too much in July/August. It's too hot! Plant shade trees (oaks are good survivors). Enjoy the rest from weeding and mowing because nothing grows then anyway. If you must water, don't forget to spray yourself to cool off. Now is the time to shop, read, plan, and eat bon-bons with your feet up, in front of a fan.

I just visited my sister's house in AR and she had FIGS! The fig tree and the abundance of fruit on it would make a Philadelphia Italian drool in delight. You can grow so much cool stuff there with all that heat!

And the winters are wonderful! You can garden almost all winter long if you're willing to protect your stuff during the few brief cold snaps.
 
Judith Browning
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Posts: 5546
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Thanks, Renate...first I should say we moved here in 1973 and I hit this 'wall' every summer. You are right...we NEED guineas...I am putting the word out. We have not had livestock in quite a few years. And yes, scorpians! how could I forget I have not seen one in awhile...the last time was in a friends old farmhouse kitchen where three of them fell down into my lap from the ceiling. Once I realized our tarantulas were not poisonous I enjoyed seeing them.
And I am thankful for the planting season...my garden is lush...and our fig and peach trees are covered in fruit...I really do love it here.

...and those foot long centipedes.
 
Renate Howard
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Maybe you could sell them online? In the Northeast there's a pretty good trade in exotic-looking bugs like tarantulas and centipedes. There's a source of farm income/livestock that you don't see everyday, LOL!
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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A bug market venture....I like it. In the past someone did take home a tarantula.
I am rethinking guineas after you reminded me they kill snakes...really it is mainly the ticks and chiggers I would like to knock back a bit. I wouldn't really want to throw off the snake/rodent/lizard/frog etc. balance.
 
Renate Howard
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Maybe banties then. The ones we've had have behaved pretty much like wild birds - fending for themselves really well and they can FLY! A full-sized chicken might eat the lizards and snakes but banties would be more likely to just eat bugs.
 
John Polk
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If you are thinking about getting guineas, my advice is:
Get day old keets. If you get adults, they will spend every waking moment trying to find their way 'home'.

Even with the day olds, it takes about 6 weeks to get feathered out, and then another +/- 6 weeks locked in their coop before they learn that "here" is home.

I would suggest getting a copy of "Gardening With Guineas" before you get the birds. They are different than chickens, and this book will pretty well tell you all you need to know before the little noise-makers get to your place. That is the author's own site, and (if you check the box) she will sign your copy.

Also, try to get them as local as possible, so they are bred for your climate. There is a hatchery near you (Lebanon, MO) that offers guineas at about half the price of most hatcheries. ($48 for 15 keets)
http://www.cacklehatchery.com/page53.htm

 
Miles Flansburg
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Judith, You are scaring me ! Makes my wimpy Wyoming bugs sound good !
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Renate...if you have time I would love for you (and anyone else) to share summer in Arkansas stories...I think it would help put living in the Ozarks in perspective. Did you grow up here?

John, thank you...You are reminding me why we never got guineas I remember thinking they looked like seed ticks all moving in a group like they do...I don't remember their sound being loud though...our neighbors had them for a long time and then one day they were all gone...I'll have to ask why.

Miles...most of the critters are not all at once...it just seems like some of the worst can pile up summertime.
 
John Polk
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The only complaints I have ever heard about guineas is their constant 'chattering'. Many people find it annoying.

Two ways to minimize the noise factor:
* Do not get females only. They seem to be noisiest when horny.
That Cackle Hatchery offer is for 'straight run', so that eliminates that problem.

* Don't encourage them to hang out near the house.
Sure, that is where you most want the 'bug patrol', but they should get that population controlled quickly,and will expand outward.
Always give them their supplemental feeding away from the house - where you want them to hang out.
Once they have cleared the area around the house, by moving outwards, they help prevent new populations from moving in.
Perhaps, feeding them near the house every year in early spring, then expanding outwards will solve the worst bug infestations.

Their noise making is actually one of their virtues. They are like watch dogs. If a stranger shows up (even the mailman), they will warn you. Same thing if a possum, 'coon, neighbor's dog, or snake intrudes on their territory.

As far as supplemental feeding goes, their protein requirement is higher than chickens. They should be started on turkey starter, or game bird started, as it has a higher protein level than chick starter.

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