Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tame goose chase

Unlike Sharon who OBVIOUSLY has way too much time on her hands- we're busy around here.

Not that everything we're doing is really sensible.  Like this: 

What on earth would possess theoretically sane people to acquire new geese, I hear you cry?

How about blind, pigheaded hopefulness?  The sequence goes like this: 

Our tick population has skyrocketed- up like 10x from any year in the past 30.
Lyme disease is a real possibility here.
Guinea fowl are universally recommended for tick control, though it's anecdotal info.  The number of negative anecdotes, though, is tiny.
Guineas have to be acquired at babies- transplanted adults just fly away.
Baby guineas are pretty vulnerable to lots of things, including hypothermia and raccoons.
Adult geese can be moved, and are known to kind of adopt any birdlets in need- sometimes.
Geese take care of themselves.  Pretty much.  Sort of.
Since we need to get guineas (taking 4 ticks a day off Smidgen, and 10 a day off Bruce, and it's not slowing down) - why not get geese too?
And, here we are at the local animal swap- and here's this lovely pair of - uh -

well, obviously, these are Buff Saddleback Pomeranian geese.  Which I'd never heard of, making them irresistible, of course- a mated pair, the goose all broody and laying yesterday...

Who could ask for anything more?

And isn't that the most logically compelling chain of statements you've ever run into?

These pics, incidentally, are in our apple orchard- see the sod?  :-)  And, obviously, that's a Golden Russet the geese are penned under.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Well, no.  The female was unpennable.  Escaped, was chased (Bruce was actually useful) and recaptured, after dark sometimes, about 8 times.  Finally succeeded in truly escaping, and hasn't been seen for 5 days now.  It may be she was desperate to lay an egg, in hiding somewhere- or back home- and just hit the road.

The gander we still have.  No baby guineas available for a month yet.  Bruce and Marco (the gander) seem to be coming to terms, gradually.

Otherwise- our soil has finally dried out enough so I can get on the tractor- and till!  What?? Yep, for tree planting.  Just a little.  Painfully aware of the expensive diesel being burned in the process.

Back to work.


Anonymous said...

Greenpa we had the same thing happen to us when we got our first geese (one took off never to be seen again). "Duck" a china white with a touch of brown on his head, adopted our sheep and grazed along with the flock, but every winter when food was more scarce the sheep would beat him up, so we got him some goose-mates and guess what? They fight incessantly. Now all three are nearly featherless due to their near constant fighting. BUT we haven't seen a tick in years! Good luck with the adoption of the guinnies.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Honk! I'm sorry to hear that you had an escapee. I can't believe the number of ticks you have in them thar parts.

Good luck with the planting!

Anonymous said...

Greenpa -
Might I suggest brewers yeast on Bruce's food. I grewup and still live near Lyme CT - Home of Lyme Tick Disease. (hows that for a town nickname)

My organic gardening parents didn't like flea collars on the family pets or the anti flea & tick shampoos. They hit the healthfood store and were turned on to brewers yeast. It comes in a powdery form. Looks a little like fish food. All dogs and cats (even the goats) loved it. It was sprinkled on their dry food and they licked it off fist. It is in the B vitamins so it doesn't store in the body and it comes through your/pets pores and makes a smell that is undesireable to ticks and fleas. It won't get rid of all but it seriously reduces them.

I don't know what to do for your little girl - when we were kids we didn't get a lot because of the longsleeve/sock/pants outfits. And the family pets weren't providing the ticks a free ride to us.

Good luck!

jewishfarmer said...

We had exactly the same thing happen to us. We had the most wonderful geese - Agatha and Gangulphus - Gangulphus died, and Agatha was left alone. We went to the livestock auction and got MacBeth. MacBeth, it turns out, could fly way better than Pomeranians are supposed to be able to. Agatha, it turns out was just not flying because she liked hanging around Gangulphus.

They escaped. We recaptured. They escaped again. They found the pond across the road. They lived across the road for 2 full years - every so often we'd have guests over and invite them to come try and round up the geese as sort of a social event, but we could never get both of them, and usually we couldn't get either, since no one was willing to chanse them into the pond. People commented about the strange wildlife. They lived happily on the corn stubble, greens etc...

But one hunting season they disappeared. I like to think they migrated, but I think they were dinner.

Sigh. I want geese again, but babies, that I can handle and train up. And yes, we need Guineas too. But this year I am only allowed my meat birds and turkeys, unless, of course, I can get someone to sell me a pair of geese...


Chile said...

We've been feeding Angel (aka "Fartsy") nutritional yeast since winter. Her tick problems are reduced but not eliminated. We tried an essential herbal oil product applied to the back like the nasty insecticide ones. It seems to have worked but it also really irritated her skin. 'Course we haven't moved in to full tick season yet. And our neighbors have a new dog. I can guarantee they aren't bothering to control ticks, so between her and all the loose cats in the 'hood, we expect a constant influx of the little buggers. With loose dogs and coyotes, guineas aren't an option. Not even sure if they're legal in town. Do chickens eat ticks?

Greenpa said...

We did try brewers yeast, with no noticeable effect here, though we'll probably try again. I read the label on the herbal stuff- and we didn't try- some essential oils are really pretty toxic in high concentrations; worrisome for dog and Smidgen, who hugs Bruce a lot.

A few guinea facts I've gleaned- they have more meat per weight than chickens do- and there's actually a fairly good market for them with white-tablecloth restaurants. They say. The thing about predators- once established, they'll roost in trees, immune to everything but owls. And if you've got 10 or so- they're very hard to surprise. About ticks- my understanding is, chickens eat some; but they're nowhere near as effective as the guineas.

They say. :-)

Anonymous said...

The topical application Frontline kills ticks and fleas and, the vet claims, is way less toxic than the flea shampoos. It's also really, really expensive, but the animals are so much less miserable when I use it that I find it worth it. Supposedly, it affects the chiton in bugs, which mammals don't have, so it doesn't affect them. Which is why you're not supposed to get it on your skin while applying it to your pet's skin. Right. Well, nobody Said we had to be logical ...
We had guineas when I was a kid. They are neat. And Loud. And uncatchable. But nobody will ever sneak up your house, at least if they try to get past the guineas in the trees ... : } Oh yes, clearly, you Needed those geese! : } Reasoning makes perfect sense to me ...
So sorry about the lost one, poor thing. NM

Anonymous said...

We use Frontline also. It does not kill fleas just makes them infertile. This year, we waited too long to apply the first dose of the spring and according to the vet it will take three months to get the flea population down to zero. In the mean time, I am flea combing her everyday and washing dog bedding weekly. (I like the flea combs that are made in England the best.)

Like you, I don't like using it around the small girls but have not found a better solution. If you brush vigorously the two days after application, it distributes among the furs more quickly. Also the first couple of days after application, I keep the dog in another part of the house to prevent them from touching where it is concentrated after application.

By the way, you can grind up brewer's yeast tablets in the blender to make a flea powder. The powder can be dusted on the dogs coat -- put a light weight sock over the muzzle during the dusting to avoid irritating the dog's nasal tissue.

Littlest girl still has an ugly place on her leg from an embedded tick. In two year old logic, she keeps picking at it to "make boo-boo go away."

I dream about ducks and guineas to eat the ticks but unless your house is zoned farm, you cannot have fowl even if you live outside the city limits. Go figure.


Anonymous said...

wild turkeys love ticks....and just about any other bug. We used cracked corn to lure them out of the woods that surround our home. They make for nifty backyard birding

Anonymous said...

The tick thing is very hard to control, but the guineas will do the job enormously well.
Geese are kind of dangerous if they are not very well trained. They are like having a large dog that ignores whatever you command. They chase people {that can be good if you channel it right} they bark at all intruders, they bite all intruders, not just the humans.
Because your pair wasn't doing some of those things, they probably had some training.
The female was so traumatized by being penned {geese detest a cage, didn't anyone say so?}that she hates you now.
Geese are very dog like. And can be dangerous to children.
I have had some large dangerous animals {potentially fatal bad actors like Fila Brasileira dogs} and any animal like that needs training or you can't keep it. The Filas are far stronger than humans.
Geese attack and they don't like taking orders.
Guineas are very comical birds, but you will quickly learn to appreciate them. They are also barkers like dogs and do not allow any intruders to approach without warning, but they do not attack.
They very much prefer to be in a group of at least ten or twelve.
They love to range and of course, having the ticks, that is what you want.
Here, with plenty of Red Tail Hawks and Mongeese they survive very well, much better than the stupid chickens. You see road kill chickens here every day. In 29 years I have never seen a road kill Guinea.
OK. I am one of those "they say" people. Get some Guineas and get rid of some ticks.
You have to treat the dog somehow with a process that doesn't have consequences for your child. Dogs are strictly tick magnets. There is no easy solution. My Fila, an enormous dog {165 pounds} carried ticks like cattle do.
Livestock roaming around spread ticks very efficiently. Deer, horses, cows, antelope, etc.
A domestic animal that doesn't have tick issues is the goat. They smell so bad {they lie in their own waste}the bugs can't stand it. Works for them!