Ticks & Ivy
While attending college for Biology over a decade ago I recall taking a field trip with my entomology class to OSU in Stillwater to look at their insect collection, but while we were there we learned a lot about those bloodsucking little arachnids—ticks. Ticks have an amazing array of biological mechanisms that they employ in order to perpetuate their horrible existence. As you can tell, I have a major distaste for these critters as I do most anything that wants to feed on me i.e. mosquitos and chiggers. I also have a dislike for poison ivy as I have gotten a rash from poison ivy several times in my life and I care not to ever get it again. I’m sure most people share my disdain for these things and while poison ivy and ticks have a place in nature and will even remain to exist on our farm in areas not designated for us, we will not be allowing them to exist in close proximity to our living quarters or to areas we frequent.
Beau and I have vowed to keep our farm as organic as possible, so we will not be treating the poison ivy and oak with Roundup, nor will we be spraying the farm with pesticides to keep the ticks at bay. So, I’ve been doing loads of research on how best to remedy these problems, and Beau and I decided that getting some companion animals to help us out could be beneficial in many ways.
Ok, I’ll be honest here; I already wanted goats before we bought the farm. I have wanted goats since we lived in our old home on Hudson, but urban goats aren’t very realistic. Having a poison ivy/oak problem was just the excuse I needed to get goats. We have decided to go with goats that are best for milking, as Beau and I both have an interest in making cheese. Right now we are in the process of deciding on either Nubian goats or Nigerian Dwarf Goats. Nigerian Dwarf Goats produce anywhere from 2 cups-3/4 gallon milk per day and the milk has 8-10% butterfat, making the milk very sweet, which sounds nice for that morning cup of joe. Nubian goats produce up to 2 gallons of milk per day, but the butterfat is only 4-5%. So more milk, but not as sweet.
For the ticks— well, I’ve heard for years that guinea fowl are really great tick eaters and after doing some research online this seems to be true. I did, however, read that they can be mean to chickens, but I’m going to try to figure out if there is a way we can keep them separate because the idea of finding ticks on me and my family everyday is just not acceptable. Guineas aren’t just great at eating ticks, but they are known for eating other pest insects such as grasshoppers. The meat of guineas is rich in vitamins and lower in fat than chicken and I’ve read that their eggs are delicious too. Sounds like a great addition to a sustainable farm to me!