James Freyr wrote:My wife and I are buying 58 acres of beautiful, secluded, rolling topography, mighty old tree inhabited, tick infested land. It has approximately 35 acres in pasture and the remainder in woods. The day we came home walking the property the first time, much to my dismay I was covered in seed ticks all up and down my legs, with some full size adults everywhere else. The last few times I've been to visit the land I've sprayed toxic gick on my socks, shoes, and pants and it seems to work (I'm not spraying that shit on my skin). Only had 3 tick bites last time and pulled 4 or 5 off that were crawling around on me. I hate toxic chemicals, the companies that make them, and having to buy this spray which means my money went back to the evil cronies who poison the planet.
So the neighbor had an agreement with the landowner and has had a small 9-15 head herd of cattle grazing free will on it for the last 20 years. I met the neighbor and thankfully he's super a nice guy and I told him he can continue to keep his cattle on the land until my wife and I build a little house on it and move in next year, and he seemed happy about that, not having to scramble to relocate his cattle. Besides, he knew the land was for sale and this day was coming. So I understand ticks have a 2 year life cycle, and I wonder if the land is so tick ridden because the cattle have been playing host. In my mind I like to think that removing the ticks food source will have an impact on their population. But is removing livestock from the land for a few years going to have any real impact? Is this futile efforts if the opossums, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, fox, etc. are still playing host to the tick population? I totally understand chickens and guineas, and I'll be having them out there on patrol once we move there. My wife and I will one day be having our own livestock on the land, but that's several years out. We want to be able to homestead without having to spray carcinogens or wear a hazmat suit.
We would much appreciate any thoughts on how to address this problem in an environmentally and permaculture way. Thanks!!
Been living in NW AR for a little over a year now. Bought a little fixer upper farm 5 months ago. It, like any other place not in the city, has ticks galore. Tried all the essential oil and natural combos one could think of. Sadly, none of it was effective for myself or the dogs. Finally had to go to toxic gick for them. Toxic gicks were not really working for me very well. Body chemistry must have changed. Never had an imbedded tick despite travels to places where others were getting them during my first four decades. First time in AR camping by the lake- not a one. Came back a year later and after more than 16 in four days (on a property mowed and sprayed and not in the tall grass!!) was so grossed out had to stop counting. Last summer worked helping knock down noxious weeds on a farm by pulling them. Lost count. By Fall suspect may have gotten a tick born illness, but with mixed medical reviews by folks have not wanted to explore that in depth yet.
Moved onto this property in May. By June was convinced it had to be the mecca for Lone Star ticks in the area. The dogs would run if they saw me with a tweezer. The eldest dog wouldn't even roll over for a belly scratch any more! Believe it was July or August after talking with a naturalistic vet that judicious use of gick for the dogs commenced. Thankfully, ticks seem to have mostly died down here over the last month or so for now. (Please, Lord!) In between they were bad enough that some days felt one was gonna lose her mind. Even had one doctor visit with blood test and antibiotics for a particularly bad bite that looked very scary. Asked the doc to do a panel for tick borne illnesses. Of course, when they called with the results, all he ordered was Lyme- the least concern of mine after seeing a photo on the CDC website that looked like something else. With all the Lone Stars, ehrlichiosis was the main concern. There is also an illness that some round here have from ticks that makes one deathly allergic to mammalian meat and milk! ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3545071/
Shy of toxic gick applied to the land, tried so many things. Finally happened upon a lotion at the recommendation of some friends who tried it: Picaridin. It's a synthetic based on black pepper. Works like a dream for me when nothing else did. You apply it to your skin. It's been in Europe for a while. Tried the spray but no matter how I held my breath got a slight burning sensation ain my nose and throat after using it. A one gallon pump bottle off Amazon cost about $110 delivered but it's been lasting and repels chiggers and mosquitos as well up to 14 hours. Only two ticks on me since being introduced to it and they were on days where I worked outdoors all day and failed to reapply...and the dog was on my bed. Not cheap, but costs a lot less than a tick born illness.
Old timers from TX have told me that back in the day their dads or grand dads would put food grade sulfur powder in a sock and hit their clothing with it and ticks stayed away. Also, filled a burlap sack with it they dragged behind the lawn mower. Took care of the problem. When I went to try to buy it and couldn't find it anywhere was told it was now illegal to sell in quantity because you can make bombs with it??? Does anyone know it that is really true or if there is a source to buy it from for a reasonable price? Others on the www say ingesting sulfur (various amounts at various frequencies depending who you read.) Tried it with my eldest dog. Couldn't really note a difference...perhaps it was because the only food grade available at the time was treated to smell less? Maybe that's what make it work?
A local gentleman bragged to me one could walk all his acres in a tank top, shorts, and flip flops and never get a tick. Why? Guineas! His wife has around 200 roaming half wild at any given time. That is the avenue currently persuing. Hatched five successfully from some spare eggs he provided, getting more. A few chickens alone didn't seem to do it.Some of them were killed by prolific foxes and even with foxes there were ticks a plenty. My bent is natural and organic. Sadly, essential oils, gicks, mowing, onions and garlic, ingested sulfur, etc did not do the trick.Picaridin does. (Need to see if it's safe for pets.) Gonna try full guns with guineas, judicious gick on dogs, extra mowing, possibly try to pursue sulfur a bit more in the future when there's time. The more I read about controlled burns and how they have been used by native peoples for various things the more I would be inclined to try it, if I didn't think the fire danger to neighbors was too great here. If it's allowed where you are, perhaps you could experiment on a test plot Good luck to you!