Drove down to Avenue of the Giants today to give a talk about worms to the 4-H club. I just love 4-H kids. They’re so…I don’t know…down-to-earth. Fun and unspoiled and kid-like. They all enter projects in the county fair and raise chickens and plant gardens. They’re easy to talk to. They don’t babble on incessantly about some video game I’ve never heard of.
And they are fascinated by earthworms.
We met at a farm owned by one of the parents. They’ve built a worm bin against the inside wall of their greenhouse—it is about 3 feet wide, 2 feet tall, and it runs the length of two sides of the greenhouse so it forms an L shape. The walls are cinderblock and the lid is nothing more than a series of metal panels that allow you to open just one section at a time. The worms start out at one end of the L and, as food is added, they work their way to the other end. In the spring, the family pulls out the castings that they’ve left behind and, with all the worms now concentrated in the other end of the L, they add food again and get the worms moving back to where they started. It’s a constant cycle, back and forth, with the worms following the food and the castings getting pulled out behind them.
The kids were eager to hold the worms, asked all the right questions (what happens when you cut them in half? How long do they live? What do they eat?) and when I told them what an earthworm cocoon looked like, they spent ten minutes digging through the castings, hunting for one.
In this picture, I’m leaning on a worm bin called a Wriggly Wranch. This one does not have any worms in it—it’s a demonstration model I use when I go talk to people about worms. We were all standing around eating oranges, and when we finished, we threw the peels to the worms and the kids stood looking in the bin, as if they expected the worms to leap up and take the peels in their mouths and dive down with them.