Tirzah Schmaltz

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since May 14, 2014
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Recent posts by Tirzah Schmaltz

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!!

Hi, James!

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!
5 months ago
Sorry, rural www was too slow to get on here last couple days. Don't think this is necessarily the hen whose one foot I stepped on as that was so quick and this has gotten progressively worse. Watching her even more closely recently, wondering if that naked lump isn't simply irritation from where her left foot rubs her lower body when she pulls it up and kicks/wiggles it as what appears to be a "nervous tick?" To the touch the spot is soft and warm... feels very much like the bald area a broody hen makes on herself which sitting on eggs- soft, bald, and warm. I have soaked her in a warm epsom bath and sprayed Vetericyn or similar on it. But, Honey! She does NOT appreciate being handled no way no how for any reason. No sign that she is in pain as she is quite the go-getter in spite of it all. Inclined to Deb Rebel's guesses, or just that it is irritation from that foot rubbing. Wish there was a chicken neurologist who had a sure explanation. She does not appear to be in "pain" that can be noted. If it does get to a point that that was a issue, humane action of whatever the appropriate sort is would be taken. But, as she appears to be dealing with it and not held back by it, just monitoring for now. Thank you everyone for the concern and attention to the issue. Much appreciated. I love my little hen.
6 months ago
Sincere thanks, everyone. Been soaking her and watching. It is so low as to not seem vent related, and other than the limp one would never know there is any issue 'til that cyst-ish thing showed up. Ugh. Will keep looking.
6 months ago
Elizabeth, I had already seen the article in the link. It's hard because in the photos my hen in laying on her back but her lump is much less angry appearing and down on the bottom of her body not next to the vent. Plus she acts totally healthy and looks lovely except for the limp and lump. I am mystified.

Jim, it's hard but think there is some wisdom there. Once worked for a gov't agency that dispatched animal control. A lady turned in an injured bird and wanted to be there the day it was rehabbed. Same thing happened as to the rabbit which left the woman screaming and freaking out and the animal control officer at a loss to console her,
6 months ago
Maybe 3ish weeks ago feeding the girls, I accidentally stepped on one's foot. Shortly thereafter a hen was limping and assumed it was my fault. BUT, that hen continued limping and it seems to have gotten progressively worse. She will step normally with the right foot, but the left she lifts slightly to the side in an exaggerated motion shaking the foot quickly before it touches back down of the ground. (Almost like some of it is a nervous tick.)  It has continued to get more exaggerated and because it moves out to the side a bit when she does all this it seemed perhaps it was some orthopedic thing in the "hip" area and not the hen whose foot was briefly stepped on at all. There aren't many vets round here period- let alone an avian orthopedist.

Fast forward to tonight. Chooks are happily free ranging and this girl catches the eye. Seems even a tiny bit more severe tonight. ...Wait! Now there's a pink featherless lump between her lower midline and the top of the thigh when she's at just the right angle. Have not seen that before and am always watching for her. She is a tough cookie go getter who forages with the best of them and does not let her handicap slow her down at all. In fact, catching her to check it out was the hardest catch of any of them to date. Took two okay photos and it was hard. The only way to do it alone was lay her on her back so the lump is flatter and less impressive than in real life.

It kinda has an egg shape but doesn't feel to these novice hands to be an egg It also doesn't look any pinker or feel any hotter than the self plucked areas on the broody hens here. Soaked her in some epsom salt and sprayed it with Vetericyn (or similar) and returned her to the flock as she was uber feisty and NOT impressed with any attempts to assist her! So far unable to find a match for her issue on the www. Any experience with this? Help is greatly appreciated. Thanking you in advance. Sincerely, Tirzah.
6 months ago

R Ranson wrote:How is she doing today?

Looks like you are giving her good care. 

The only real challenge now is avoiding depression.  That's our number one killer in our flock.  We've had hens loose eyes and half a chest (with the lungs poking out through the visible rib cage - way ickier than it sounds) and they came through fine.  Others stub their toe and keel over because they get depressed.

Do you have a companion chicken that would keep her company?  Occasionally we get a chicken that has sympathy for others instead of trying to eat them like a normal chicken would.  They seem to treat injured chickens like they would chicks - get them eating, keep them happy, keep them warm.  These are usually chickens that have suffered some injury themselves in the past.

If no companion chicken, keeping her near the flock (so she can hear them) or near you so she can see and hear you, while she recovered will make a huge difference to how well she does. 

Please keep us up to date.  So glad you were able to save her.  Training your own chicken guardian from a puppy sounds like a lot of fun.  I think it's wonderful that your dog respects you enough to obey the drop command - I know so many dogs who don't consider the human the pack leader and that would make things much more difficult.  You're doing a great job!

R. Ranson,

Thank you very much for the encouragement. Being raised in suburbia makes one wonder if some of the compassion for one's newly acquired farm animals is a misdirected desire for more pets, but compassion for the hurting  is alright. All the hens were part of the same lot and I removed her because the few around her made me nervous. She was in our room in a dog carrier last night. May just bring her back in tonight. Had her in a big carrier where she could hear the flock today. Will indeed keep you posted. Thank you again.
11 months ago

Barbara Clowers wrote:My daughter had something similar happen. She separated the injured hen from the others. She kept it inside and warm. She lived and is laying eggs again. As for great pry, how old is it and was it trained to guard chickens. Unless trained with stock they are not reliable. If well trained they will die for their flock. I belong to a Facebook Akbash Dogs group. Groups exist for GPs as well. Members are knowledgeable and respond quickly.

Thank you, Barbara. She was given her own little apartment (not far from me -in order to check on her). Treated the wounds with a veterinary spray, and gave her electrolyte water. Held her and petted her and talked to her til she was warm and comfortable and no longer in shock-she even fell asleep! Keeping an eye on her and waiting til she's 100 percent to go back to her fllock. The GP is fiercely loyal to his goats and people but was not trained to guard chickens and can not be trusted with them. This has happened on occasion in the past before they became mine but it didn't end well as no one was around to catch him in the act. The chickens sometimes wonder into his paddocks. Fortunately, as we have bonded, he dropped her on stern voice commands. Planning to get my own pups soon and train them to protect all the livestock.
11 months ago
Hey all. Grateful for any good advice you can give. Young Buff hen taken from the mouth of a Great Pyrenees about 15 min ago. Acting a bit schock-ey. Found one small puncture wound on her side but she is missing a bunch of feathers from her rear quarter area. Can't not yet see any other visual indications of injuries , as far as I can tell wings seem okay, but she is very quiet. Tried putting her back in the coo-p and she did not even have the strength to hop up on a very low perch. Currently have her in a dog carrier on a bunch of clean straw with a water bowl available. She is just shoving her self in the corner. I feel so bad and am new to chickens and more ignorant than I would like. How can she be best helped?
11 months ago
Found a turtle shell in a chunk of ice with no turtle in it. Smells a little strong but not overpowering. Once it thaws, what is the best way to preserve it? Searching the web did not yield real specifics. So far have found suggestion to let bugs clean it and leave it in the sun to dry. Or, put Borax in it then paint it with Polyurethane/soak it in unknown amount of Borax, salt, and water-then in vinegar and water. Anyone have any experience and more detailed advice?
1 year ago