Monday, August 31, 2009

Giant Meal Worms

As everyone knows we love our chickens at Mainely Ewes Farm. They give us fresh eggs and hours of entertainment as they free range over the pasture. They are up early and spend the day looking for anything that moves. We have seen them scratch up worms near the water trough, jump at crickets in the tall grass and the violent massacre of a small frog who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They have a true "pecking" order. One hen will beat up another hen because she is in "her" nest box. They will peck at and chase a new addition to the hen house as Hawk found out this summer. However, she is now companionable with the other hens, but still can't seem to figure out how to get into the pasture through the door in the fence. We really love our chickens and want them to be comfortable and well cared for. They get cracked corn and laying pellets. In the winter we even pour hot water over the pellets and make a nice tasty mash for them. In Maine we have really cold winters and the hens have to keep up their weight. Last winter was really hard on the birds. We had bitter cold temps. The point of this ramble is that I was on reading Penny's information on raising meal worms for chickens and how easy it was. Don't get me wrong. I do not like worms. I just thought that if it was easy, and it would help the hens, then why not. Alex thought I had lost my mind. I believe her exact words were, "that's on you, don't even try to included me in this one". I guess Ethel has drawn the line and Lucy is on her own. I sat down and searched the Internet for meal worm information. We zoomed down the information highway at a snails pace (we have satellite Internet). I was able to locate not only meal worms, but Giant Meal Worms. Sounds scary doesn't it. I actually paid $36.75 for worms. Hey, that was including shipping and handling. What a deal. I purchased a tub from Home Depot for $16.00. Then I drilled several 1/2 inch holes in the lid so that the worms could breathe. Did you know worms breathe? I was following Penny's instructions exactly.

We bought a 50# bag of chicken feed at Blue Seal for $12.00 and filled the tub to 6 inches deep. Ted even measured to be sure. Evidently, the feed serves as bedding and food for the little beasties.

Then we waited and waited for our worms to arrive. Finally my order of 1,000 Giant Meal Worms arrived. Since they were giant I expected a much bigger box.

When we opened the box there was this bag. I think I can handle this. They don't look that giant to me.

I opened the white bag. Jasmine thought they were disgusting. Alex thought they stunk. I didn't think they looked giant. I guess it is just your perspective.

I quartered potatoes and placed them on top of the chicken feed. The potatoes provide moisture. Later I added a cabbage from the garden. I don't want them to get thirsty.

Then I dumped the worms on top of the potatoes, cabbage and chicken feed.

The were right at home squirming and crawling around. I know they were smiling.

As instructed I covered the worms with newspaper. I wasn't aware they needed reading material. I guess they get bored waiting to turn into pupa so they can then turn into beetles and lay eggs. One female beetle can lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime. I'm sure there is some formula that will tell me how many worms I should have in a year. However, math was not my favorite subject, lets just say a lot!
Next, I put the lid on and placed them in a warm dry place. We haven't started the upstairs bathroom and that sounded like a great space for them to mature. We have to check the potatoes and cabbage every week to make sure they don't dry out. I checked on them today and they still look like worms. I am interested in seeing them change. I did notice a pupa or two when they arrived. Wow, the kids grow up so fast.We will keep you updated on meal worm progress as we can. I can't wait till the girls get their first taste of home grown meal worms. They will appreciate their Aunt Penny and all her learnin. Oh, don't tell Alex, but the upstairs bathroom is hers.
Much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.


Peggy said...

Now that sounds like a fun project! looking forward to reading more of this adventure. said...

Well, how cool is that? Raising meal worms is so easy, and my chickens just love them. I've had my tub o' worms for over a year, and they are still going strong. I love to scoop out a little and give to the mamas with their new chicks. SO fun to watch!

I hope yours do well! said...

Oh, I just wanted to add one thing. During the cold winter months, I relocated my worms to a warmer room. They will hibernate if it gets too cool for them - and you'll need to bring them into a warm area so they'll wake up and eat and drink, so they don't starve over winter. If you keep them warm enough throughout the winter, they'll continue to do whatever it is those little things do.... I was not able to keep them that warm. But I did put them close to the woodstove once every week or to heat them up enough to eat and drink. (Not TOO close, of course ;-)

Eggs In My Pocket / Yesteryear Embroideries said...

We have been acquainted with meal worms when my younger son bought a lizard at the pet store. Being miles away from any town, we learned how to raise them so that we could be able to feed his lizard. We also learned about crickets this way! Enjoy your adventure! blessings,Kathleen

katiegirl said...

This post cracked me up!! :-)

I love my chickens too!! They all have different personalities and quirks! They are great cheap entertainment!!