Worms are the new kittens.

It all happened when, as the  Yard to Market One Year Birthday Soirée was winding up, Christa Zufelt, worm ranger and follow co-op owner, mentioned that we should save the scraps for the worm bin.

“Gasp!” I thought to myself giddily, “I wonder if she’ll let me feed them.”

“Do you want to feed them?” Christa asked.

Of course, I could not refuse.

Christa gave me the plate and indicated a small shelf with two nested Rubbermaid containers.  I lifted the lid and was surprised to see a pile of shredded paper.  No sign of worms.

Christa then instructed me to dig a little bowl to deposit the scraps, which I did.  I was immediately rewarded with a glimpse of a small fistful of writhing worms.  Yup.  They looked pretty hungry, I guess.  I deposited the dinner scraps, covered them with the shredded paper and replaced the lid.  And that was all.

It didn’t smell and the set up was small enough to fit anywhere.  Christa remained a good sport as I peppered her with questions like, “How they handle freezing temperatures?” (just fine as long as they are close to the house) and “How do you make the boxes?” (just drill holes in the bottom of two identically sized tubs).  It all seemed so easy.  I decided that this was an experiment that I couldn’t not try.

It’s been a few weeks now, and I’ve constructed the bins, shredded confidential mail and made them a little bed of high-quality compost.  The actual worms came in the mail last week.  They were in a little fabric drawstring bag filled with nice moist compost.  I dumped them rather unceremoniously into their new home and watched, mesmerized, as they made their way under the dirt.  It only took a minute or two. It’s hard to tell, because I’m pretty sure time slowed down a little so that I could better appreciate the experience.  And soon they were completely hidden under their new snuggly compost bed.

Worm Habitat and Composter

Worm Habitat and Composter

As they’d just come from an arduous journey, they were hungry, so I put a few kitchen scraps in a little depression and covered the whole  worm community with shredded paper.  Sure.  Maybe it was a little anti climactic.  But, the days that followed filled me with a anxious preoccupation that I could not help but comparing to parenthood.  It wasn’t that I was sleep deprived and CPS would never ask me why I kept my worm babies in a plastic box on the porch, but I would check on them obsessively, sure that whatever I’d given them would surely cause their painful death.


Bag o’ worms


Here’s a terrible photo of my little red wigglers exploring their new home.


They are all still alive, by the way.  And, they really enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner, particularly the pumpkin soup, which, due to a mustard fiasco, was pretty inedible for this human.

In summary, if you were thinking of getting a kitten, don’t.  Just think of that smelly box and all of those dirty looks that a baby cat will certainly give you over the course of its partially-domesticated lifetime.

Instead, consider worms.   They are lovable in so many ways.  They are quiet.  Never will a worm wake you in the morning by walking on your face.  They don’t smell.  It’s true, as long as you don’t over feed them, you should not notice an odor. They are happy eating your kitchen scraps and confidential mail.  They rarely require a pet sitter.  They make the best plant food money can buy (and it IS expensive if you want to buy it).  They don’t require trips to the vet or special collars to keep them from killing birds.

Clearly, worms are a great pet.

If you are interesting in making your own worm composter (it took me about ten minutes and a drill, not including the trip to purchase the bins), check out this thorough tutorial.  If you need to buy worms, you can find them seasonally at Buck Moore Feed at Burnet and North Loop or you can order them online from Texas Worm Farm in Georgetown.

Now, let’s review.  Kittens?  Not so much.  Worms?  The best pet ever.