As I was poking around on Red Worm Composting, I saw that Bentley was doing an experiment with four red wigglers in a ziplock bag of bedding and food. I thought it was pretty neat, so I borrowed his idea to try on my own. Just to see how long it would take to get a worm bin going with two breeding pairs of worms.
As you can see, I opted for a plastic tub container instead of a bag. That was mainly for my personal preference in being able to poke around in it to see any babies or pests that might have got in. (I killed a red mite and two fungus gnats in there already.)
I use a lot of shredded newspaper in my bigger bins, because we get flyers and stuff here and there, but I find that the worms really like the paper that comes in the Amazon.ca boxes, so I used that. I think it’s kraft paper, but not sure. It comes pre-crumpled, and they love to burrow into the moist folds and lay their cocoons.
I also put a carrot, some chopped kale, and a bit of red pepper slurry in, so there were different stages of decomposition.
I did all of this on April 11, 2017. Today is May 1.
I noticed quite a few castings and the food seems to be getting eaten up pretty well. There is basically just carrot left, so it will soon be time to add some more. The bedding is holding up quite well, so I foresee it lasting quite a while longer. I don’t think I was quite prepared for the scope of this, because I know that the cocoons have been hatching, but it’s going to be a while before they are breeding.
Even though it will take a while, I realised that if someone did get themselves a dozen red worms, it would go by pretty quick until one day you looked in and had a pound or so.
I threw a little bit of potting soil in as well, for grit, but I’m also going to sprinkle ground egg shells in also. I will probably update this every few months, because I know now that every month won’t have many changes.
We got a big box of fragrance oils in, and amongst them were some holiday scents that we hope to get out before next spring. There’s some pretty nice ones, so we have been smelling bottle caps for a week or so. Nobody has passed out from the fumes yet, so that’s good.
We also had the fall fair last weekend, where we entered Wildfire, the shampoo bar, and Gerri put in some red pepper jelly.
The soap and shampoo got first place and the jelly got third, so we were pretty proud and happy while we manned the Dirty Bird booth there.
Next year we hope that someone else will put in some soap and shampoo to go up against us.
Oh yeah, our friend Sarah made us a shelf and a bunch of soap holders. These are them.
So the last update told you that Red was laying, but now Henny P is laying too!
She also uses the nesting box, which pleases me to no end, but the really cool news is that I noticed a trend that I hope keeps happening.
Red started eating earthworms and ants, and a few days later she was pumping out eggs. Same thing for Henny P, so when I was digging out the slabs of stone in the walkway, I was pleased as punch to see one of the Barred Rocks steal a worm from Red’s beak and gobble it down. Then she started actually standing her ground with the Rhode Islands and digging up her own worms. Yahoooo!
I am guessing that it has to do with them knowing that their bodies need protein to keep up with the egg laying, just like the oyster shell that I see them peck at now and then. I will probably look that up, but not right now, as I want to see if I’m right about the trend on my own.
We are starting to get the amount of eggs that we use, so it shouldn’t be long before we are getting abundant in them. I hope that leads to more cakes and other treats being baked, but I would settle for just knowing we have enough food for us and maybe a friend.
It’s a pretty good feeling when things work out.
I told you about the apricot and plum trees, but I had no idea at the time about how amazing the plums were going to be. We didn’t think they would amount to much at all.
This is what we shook off today.
Altogether we have taken about three gallons of plums from what we thought was a waste of a tree. I don’t know what kind of plum they are, but they are very sweet and juicy. I am going to try rooting a few cuttings from it, and planting a few seeds, because if it is hardy for this area, then I want to keep it going.
It is also pretty diseased now, so in case this is a last hurrah, I want to have some sort of stock for the future. I would hate to think that it will last for years, only to lose it in the winter.
Since Blue got away in the spring, and decided to run rampant through the mountains, he has slowed down considerably. He did go for a little toot through the neighbourhood last weekend, but other than that he sticks pretty close to his folks.
We aren’t quite sure what he tangled with, but his slight limp hasn’t gone away, and he doesn’t like running for much more than a kilometre or two any more. We are okay with that.
One thing that I was worried about when we got the chickens, is that he would always try to chase them, but after a bit of gentle correcting, he is actually more timid with them than they are with him. Unless he’s running towards them, then they get out of the way.
I actually think that he would make a pretty good farm dog, and we hope that he makes it long enough to see that. He’s slowing down a lot, but I like to think that he’s just pacing himself for when he has acres to roam leisurely about.
He explained that they were extremely easy to raise and breed, and that they take a phenomenal percentage less water per ounce of protein than beef or pork.
I told him that as long as there was enough water to get steak, I wouldn’t worry too much about low water protein and then we had a hearty laugh, as we are wont to do while having a social ale or two.
Then, the other day I was reading about mealworms as chicken food on a homesteading forum. I thought about how easy my cousin said they were to raise and then promptly forgot about it. I already have a bunch of worms, what do I need more for?
Until two days later, when I saw on a local buy and sell page that a woman was looking for mealworms to feed her gecko. I said to myself:
“You should get some mealworms and breed them too. There might be some people around that would buy them from you, and you will be able to feed them to your chickens when you get them.”
I then replied, “I will look into it, and I’ll let you know.”
Before I looked into it, another local lady said that a few people would be happy to have a local supplier, so that pushed me towards purchasing my breeding stock today. Some of them seemed a little bit dead, but apparently they get like that after a while in the fridge.
(Update – Nope, they’re dead. I don’t think that they would still be laying in the same, motionless position after a day.)
I took them home, ground up some Red River Cereal and some rolled oats, and dumped them in a bin with some cabbage, a broken grape, and some cardboard shreds. I separated everything to see what they like best. I’m going to get some laying mash as well, because I’m told that stuff is like gold for them, as long as it isn’t medicated.
Apparently that’s all you have to do. I hope.
I will keep checking on them, but I guess it will be a while before they turn into pupa and then beetles, so I think I have a bit of time to perfect the setup. Most of the “real” farmers use one of these four drawer plastic container systems that you could steal from a friends garage or get on Amazon if you wanted to help a guy out. (wink wink)
I kid, but not really. I actually was looking at some of these ten drawer ones and was dreaming of when I would have them full of worms and styrofoam.
Yeah, you heard right. Apparently mealworms can safely survive on a diet of pure styrofoam and convert it into usable soil. It has something to do with the enzymes in their gut, so scientists are trying to figure out how to use them to combat the 33000000 tons of styrofoam in US landfills each year. I don’t know how much us Canadians go through, but it sure looks like a lot as well.
You know, because you wouldn’t want to quit making styrofoam and just throwing it away. That’s just crazy.
Where we live, styrofoam is not recyclable, so I’m hoping to eventually be able to process it with mealworms. I will keep those ones separate from the feed and sale ones, but any excess could be tossed in a bin full of styrofoam and we could at least see for ourselves whether it’s a load of bull or not.
I hope it’s not, because we can’t keep going the way we are right now. Our planet and our bodies can’t take all of this pollution, so anything we can do to help will matter in the future.
Wildfires are no laughing matter, and as we speak, there are three burning in our area. One of them was/is just a few miles from our house right now, but the 80 km/hr winds are taking it past us, and not into town.
For the moment. You know how wind can be.
When we first were told to go look up the hill this evening, there was talk of packing some bags and getting ready to leave. Gerri started looking for things to pack up, and went into the bedroom to make sure that wallets and ID were ready to go, and to pack some clothes. You know, just to be ready. She’s really good like that. She likes to be ready for things.
I’m a different sort of bird. I like to think that I’m born ready, and any emergency will test my ability to adapt. Where she might take four lighters, I rely on the few times I made a bow drill as a kid and got a fire going that way.
In perfect conditions.
What I’m getting at is that when possible evacuation was mentioned, she started planning our escape in her head, but I was just sitting there thinking I would like to write a post and if the emergency workers came around to tell us to book out of here, I would grab the family, dogs and Cheeto included, and as much of the soap and soap making equipment as I could, and head for higher ground. I would probably take my other pair of fat pants and a couple of shirts as well, because I may need to change in the next week, but basically I’m ready to go. I have the Swiss Army knife in my pocket, and a $50 bill. I know there is enough gas in the van to get us at least 300 kilometres away, so I had no worries there.
Good to go.
We then went up the hill from the apartment building in the first photo, to our friend’s place to see how close it was getting.
As we were going home, Gerri looked at me and said “Thinking of having to pack up go like that, really makes me realise how much we need to purge.”
10-4 on that Little Mama. I read you, loud and clear.
I remember being about 25 years old at our hunting camp north of Apsley, Ontario, and thinking that I could live there. No phone, no power, except for a small generator and pails of water from a crystal clear spring. I figured that was all I needed in my life.
I was freshly out of another very short relationship, and had given up on ever finding the girl I had dreamed of since I was a kid. You know, the yin to my yang and all of that nonsense. I knew she existed, but didn’t know where, and figured she probably wouldn’t like me anyhow, even if I were to stumble upon her at the Legion karaoke night.
So I started truck driving, and then moved to Chilliwack to live in the mountains and start planning my move to the forest. I had my brothers there, Chaddy, and Alex, but it was very lonely. Then I moved up north, and I worked.
Most of the time we were working at least 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, so we didn’t have time to be lonely. We were just a whole bunch of guys, stuck in a camp in the middle of nowhere. Most of us were in the same boat, so we just found the people we liked there the most, and became friends.
Then the work slowed down and I got very lonely again. A lot of years had passed, and one failed long-term relationship, so I had again given up on finding true love. I loaded up everything into my pickup and 1980 camper and started heading east. It was April 2010, and I had found a bunch of cheap property in New Brunswick that I was going to homestead. I figured I’d stop in Ontario for a month or so, just to let things warm up, and catch up with my family.
Then I met Gerri for the second time.
She was fun, sort of sweet, insecure, but also confident. I immediately liked her.
She had also given up on true love. I didn’t think that there would be a future with us, but I did foresee a long friendship, mostly with me telling her that her choices were bad, and then helping her work through the repercussions. I completely forgot about New Brunswick, and rented an apartment three doors down from her little love nest.
I had also given up on homesteading. When I saw this on her coffee mug, I just figured it wasn’t going to happen.
She told me on several occasions to not get attached to her, and in a way, I didn’t. Sure, I was falling in love with her, but after many heartbreaks since my teen years, I was quite used to rejection and loss. I’d become fairly well adapted to getting over things.
Then, all of a sudden it was the next winter and I was back out west trying to get rid of my debt. When I came home, she realised that she was in love with me too, and then it began. By the summer of 2012 we were married, and now we are in northern British Columbia, trying to eke our way.
It’s really odd how friendships happen. She has turned into my best friend and a constant source of support and encouragement that I never thought I would have in my life. I know that I would be completely happy if it were just her and I getting old together on a farm somewhere in the bush, and that’s how I know she’s the one.
Ever since our first date, I didn’t dream up a new life with anybody else that I met. I have never even thought about what my life would be like without her. I don’t ever want to know.
We have a deal that I am not allowed to die before her, because she wouldn’t want to live without me. We both know that I am stronger, so I have to stay alive for two days after she’s gone, to make our arrangements, before I die from a broken heart.
Luckily we aren’t planning on fulfilling that prophecy until we are much, much older.
I don’t know how many of you have found your Gerri, or maybe Jerry, if you are into dudes, but I urge you to keep looking for them. You’ll know it when you find them, because they will make you not want to always be out with your friends, and they will make you always feel appreciated. Always.
I was really happy when I thought I would get to spend my life with my best friend, even when I thought I was giving up my dream of a simpler existence. Now, we both share that dream. A dream of living to live, instead of living to buy more stuff that we don’t need.
It’s been a slow process, but we can see beyond the horizon, and we know that not everything we have learned before is the truth, so we are already half way there.
I don’t know how much of my backstory is truly necessary here, so I will try to be brief. I lived a very consumer-driven lifestyle, which was only enhanced by a career that was image-obsessed. I believed most of the lies the world told me, and eventually my heart became too sick to remain the same.
Our decision to relocate to British Columbia was extremely difficult to make, and to accept. I lived my entire life in one place, trying to learn how to belong, but never quite getting it. I hadn’t dreamed I would ever leave where I had always been, so the thought of starting over made me weak with fear.
Confronting fear is a game changer. It is the force that drives me forward toward the unknown. As scared as I am of doing something new, I am far more afraid of not doing it. Rebel Nerd, they call me. We decided to give the kids a year to adjust to the idea of moving, and then, a year later, we loaded all our crap into a bus and drove that mother out here. I’m sure more than a few people thought we were crazy. Although we do have kids, we don’t talk about them here. First rule of granola light club: Kids don’t want nothin’ to do with granola light club.
Coming here has challenged the way I think. It has challenged the way I relate to myself, and to others. It has deeply enhanced the relationship I have with my family, and my physical and mental health. I feel strong and free. I feel close to the land, and I spend a great deal of time surrounded by fresh air and trees. I can no longer afford to forget where my real home is. I am the original granola-light, because I understand how hard it is to make a huge change all at once. I’m about setting small goals of being more sustainable, greener, more willing to find ways to reuse/repurpose something, instead of buying something new. We try every day to do a bit better, and so far it’s working out well.
I also have a really interesting new job, with a company that excites me and makes me feel like an important part of the team. I’m surrounded by cool people who are into setting and achieving goals, personally and professionally. I like what I do, and the people who I work with. I feel like I might have won the ‘New Career Lottery’ 🙂
Starting over isn’t easy, but it has a lot of amazing rewards. It’s been a chance to start living the life we have been dreaming of since we met. It feels amazing to finally be seeing it happen for real.