Some farms look like this…
Noisy, sunny and full of dirt. I love it!
And some look like this …
It’s oddly quiet in here. From a worm’s perspective, it all looks the same, I suppose. It doesn’t matter if your dirt is in a bucket, a worm composter or a garden.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from my visit to the Rocky Mountain Worm Company last week. I’ve never seen a worm farm, or a farm in a warehouse! Then again, I can probably count the number of actual worms I’ve seen here in Colorado on my fingers.
“Do you want to hold one?”, Ken asked. ”Oh, no,” I said squeamishly.
This well organized farm in the distinctly un-farmlike neighborhood around Platte & Circle, is a family business. Ken Williams and his son Jay happened across a DVD about worm farming in 2010. As Jay tells it, his wife suggested they go into business together and the two practiced organic gardeners decided to do it.
The worms start as “cocoons”, which they sift out of the soil. Then, much like chicken eggs, they go into an incubator.
The incubated cocoons hatch and then the whole batch of them go into buckets.
The buckets of African Nightcrawler Worms, the big worms you see in soil, are labeled with the worms’ age.
“So … these are the pullets?”, I said, as we stood over the newest worms.
Jay looked quizzically at me.
“Well … yes, sort of,” he said.
The red wiggler worms like to do the composting and can be kept under the sink. Ken & Jay keep them in a gigantic composting bin. They donate the castings to Pikes Peak Urban Gardens!
They sell the worms for compost and gardens until they get too old. At that point, they are sold for bait.
“Do you have some favorites?”, I asked. ”You know … like some chickens in every flock become pets?”
Once again, they looked at me quizzically.
“Hey!”, I said. ”We had so much fun naming Lil’ Bit Farm’s baby goats, why don’t we have a naming contest for your favorite worms!”
Jay pointed out that thousands of worms lived in this bin and it would be hard to find them again.
“If we gave all these worms names, we’d spend all our time thinking of names!”
You can buy castings, cocoons and worms from their shop at 411-A Tia Juana St.
They’ll be at the Farm and Art Market with castings, cocoons and a small selection of worms. Call ahead if you want worms, to make sure they bring some for you. You can also order them online and they’ll ship to anywhere.
“Worms are the intestines of the earth,” said Jay, quoting Aristotle.
A worm farm may lack the chaos and sunshine of a chicken or goat farm, but worms do their part for healthy soil.
They deserve respect too, even if there are too many to name.
© 2013 Hungry Chicken Homestead
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