Worms make great pets!

As you may have noticed I have diverged from writing about babywearing. As much as I love it and there is almost always something to write about I just want to write about something else for a change!

IMG_6456So why not worms! My 7 year old has been asking for a pet. We did have chickens for a while, but they actually cost quite a bit and were difficult to keep healthy. I was pretty sad when we couldn’t save a couple of them from death, though pretty pleased when I did bring one back from the brink – multiple times!!!

Anyway, I’m not keen on cats. They are of course related to bigger cats that also eat meat and are fantastic killers! NZ native birds are too important to our country, to be keeping one of their natural predators as a pet. As for dogs, well I love dogs. Grew up with a gorgeous golden retriever. I did think we’d get a dog one day but as I progress on my journey of sustainability I realise that dogs really aren’t a very sustainable pet. They should eat mostly meat for their own health, though many eat the family left overs too. Their poo is often picked up in plastic bags that go to our landfill. Firstly we do not need more plastic in the landfill and secondly we also don’t need more methane producing substances as it decomposes. Yeah yeah the methane gets captured and used to create energy, but there is a whole lot of embodied energy that’s gone into creating that system when really we shouldn’t be producing crap that we have to stuff in Papatūānuku’s mouth, that then creates methane, that we then have to find a way to capture, then burn for energy, creating carbon dioxide! Blah blah blah…

So it’s no to cats and dogs, chickens are on hold (my colleague has many free range, happy chooks and that’s where our eggs come from), we’re still considering a guinea pig or rabbit. Rabbits are pests but if kept contained and not bred they only eat grass, don’t poo inside if there is an alternative and are lovely to cuddle. And we could eat it when we’re sick of it! Hmmm maybe not. Eli wants a parrot, but I can’t stand the thought of caging a bird! Just does not seem right. He’s also asked for a rat and a turtle, hmmm both possibilities.

IMG_2078The pets we currently have are worms. Tiger worms! Sound exotic eh. They are cool. We’re farmers really as we have a worm farm! We also have free ranging worms in the compost and vegie garden. Tiger worms have very cool stripes across their bodies and multiply like nothing else, in the right conditions. They eat their body weight in food everyday (yep those scraps/left overs that make up about 20% of our landfills) and have a number of intestines –  12 think I read somewhere. They burrow through the soil aerating it with oxygen necessary for plant growth. Of course their castings or poo are the best part about them. Perfect for helping vegies grow, whose scraps go back into the farm to feed the worms creating a beautiful cycle.

Oh and children, that’s right we’re all parents here – or most of us. Children love worms and if they don’t, they should, so either way getting a worm farm is a great idea. Warning! Worm farming isn’t as easy as it might sound. I am sad and embarrassed to say that I have killed, almost 2 worm farms, possibly hundreds of worms – RIP little ones. It’s all about balance. They’re a bit fussy really – not too hot, not too wet, not too dry, not too much food, not too much – very little in fact – of the onion and citrus families, food chopped or ripped small and a dash of dolomite (lime) please. Then you should be right and enjoying the slimy, wriggly wee tigers.

My boys had a great time today as we emptied some of the castings out of the farm. They were attempting to pick up a worm with their gloved hands – bare hands are much more effective and fun – then suddenly they’d all disappeared. Ah they don’t like the sunlight and are very fast at burrowing. Worm racing is a great past time. Place 2 worms on top of the pile of castings and have bets on which one burrows into the pile the fastest! Not that I condone gambling.

Here’s a recipe for building a worm farm for less than $20! Enjoy your beneficial, clever and sustainable pets!

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