Food & Drink

A gold mine of red wigglers (worms)

Yes, this is a handful of red wigglers – worms.
Yes, this is a handful of red wigglers – worms. Mel Nathanson

A few weeks ago, my brother cleaned out the hay barn with the skid-steer before he started helping my dad bale round bales of hay. He had made a pile 6-plus-feet high of manure and old hay in front of the hay barn.

I went down there Thursday to get a bucket load of it with my front end loader to use as fertilizer while setting out transplants. I dug into the pile and pulled out a loader full and the pile was steaming and smoking. It was cooking.

My brother had inadvertently built a perfect compost pile. The stuff was too hot to use on transplants because it was between 150 and 160 degrees but since I had a bucket full of it, I carried it 200 yards and dumped it in my compost bin beside the green house to super-charge my compost.

I went back there and checked an old manure pile. I stuck my hand in it and pulled out a handful of well-composted material full of worms, red wigglers. Most of you have never seen me excited or agitated but I was both.

It has been a while since I have had a worm bin and have been wanting to start one again, but a pound of red wigglers (about a 1,000) costs between $25 and $40 per pound. I just discovered a gold mine of native red wigglers.

I laid a tarp in front of the barn and dumped 3 front-end loader buckets of the stuff on the tarp and started sifting out the worms by hand.

Ellie came walking by around 6 p.m. and I asked her if she wanted to help.

She replied: “I would love to but I have to bottle-feed the calf and then drive Levi to his Boy Scout meeting. Otherwise, I would love to sit on the ground and pick worms out of old cow poop with you.”

Dean Mullis ( writes from Laughing Owl Farm in Richfield.