Recently, I've begun a special hunting expedition. It started when Sunny needed a walk just after we had an inch and a half of rain. As the two of us ventured down the shoulder of the road, I came across a lovely nightcrawler crossing the blacktop.
You may ask, "Why did the nightcrawler try to cross the road?" Well it was either evacuation or drowning in the flooded ditch — and I did say "try" because many didn't make it across. Either they were run over or simply dried out.
Anyway, hundreds of nightcrawlers and red wiggler worms were on the move. Suddenly, I had the urge to go collecting.
Since I couldn't hold my wriggling catch in my hand, I returned to the house for a plastic pail before heading back to the roadway — Sunny wasn't happy with this walk. It was too slow for him; I kept stopping to pick up worms. Still, our dog would rather be out walking than sitting inside.
In no time I had a great big gob of worms and crawlers. I hadn't planned on this hunt, so nothing was ready for them at home.
A few years ago, I had a bin of red worms for composting, but I had given them and their container to a friend. This day, when I came home from the hunt, I had to search out two containers (red worms and nightcrawlers can live together, but from the knowledge I gained on the Internet, it's not a bad idea to separate them). Crawlers aren't composters like the red worms are, but they do come in handy when going fishing. Those I picked up would be my breeding stock.
No way was I going to buy anything for my new pets. I found an extra bin in the basement and a 5-gallon container. Plenty of newspaper was in our recycling collection. I started ripping it into strips. When I had enough for my bins, I added water to dampen the paper, and then I added the worms. The only other thing that was needed was food scraps. I had coffee grounds (cooled, of course) and vegetable peelings.
If you are not the kind of person to go hunting for worms, all you have to do is purchase some at a bait shop — I lean toward the economical side of finding free wild worms.
Every time I picked up a nightcrawler, I thought about my dad. If my parents wanted to have fun, they went fishing. Of course, fishing meant we would need worms ... and I don't remember ever buying worms. Often Dad would have me and my sister out hunting nightcrawlers in the dark after a rain shower. We'd be wandering around the yard with flashlights trying to be faster than the crawlers. Karen and I grew up doing this, so we were never squeamish about picking up any slimy, wiggly worm.
A project like this with red worms isn't difficult. After a couple months, they will have turned the paper and food scraps into a nice compost for your garden. Kids can even do this. Worms are the quietest pets ever, and if you tire of them, no one will quibble about setting them free again. In fact, friends may ask to have them freed in their gardens.
The only trouble I had with my last worm bin was an infestation of fruit flies. I found out that I should microwave or freeze scraps before feeding them to the worms. Either effort should take care of the fly eggs. Let's hope so. I'm already looking forward to my harvest.
FYI: My Book Launch Party is May 17, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sissy's Treats and Treasures, 205 N. Main St., Seymour. This celebration is for the publication of the paperback edition of my romance novel, "When the Spotlight Fades."