There was a farmer who had a…worm?

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Ya you heard me. Worm. Or I guess I should say worms because I am starting a mealworm farm. Luckily mealworm farming takes up very little land. In fact it takes up no land at all and only uses a small plastic tub.

On the lists of things I thought I would do with my life worm farming definitely was not on it. But here I am 32 and farming chickens and worms. Actually the chicken farming has caused the worm farming because chickens are a gateway livestock. I don’t know if you have seen the best video ever of a woman warning you of getting backyard hens but she is hilarious and you must watch it because it’s true and you should be warned.

So worms. Mealworms. Chickens freaking loooooooooooooooooooooove them. I mean you can pretty much get a chicken to do anything you can think of if you promise it enough mealworms. Just kidding but wouldn’t that be awesome? I would have my chickens doing laundry and putting away the groceries – now I know what you are thinking. Chickens putting away the groceries? Won’t they poop on the floor? But that my friends is why they make these.

I just made your day didn’t I? All chicken diaper jokes aside mealworms are a great snack for your chicken. They are full of protein and they must taste delicious because the chickens just go completely crazy for them. But dang they are expensive. A big bag of them at Rural King sets me back almost $10.00! Yikes! And that doesn’t last me too long.

You only need to give them a handful a day to share among them but that adds up when you have 24 birds. Right now I am giving them dried mealworms but in the future once I get my own mealworm farm up and running they will get fat, juicy, fresh worms. There is nothing my Lady Loo’s love more then following behind me as I garden fighting over who gets the next fresh earthworm or grub I dig up.

I have everything I need to set up my mealworm farm except mealworms. Where the heck does one find mealworms? Bait shops? Field and Stream? Petsmart?  I have been searching high and low so if anyone out there knows where I can find me some mealworms. I would be much obliged.

What you need to start a Mealworm Farm:

+Some sort of plastic tub

+Bran meal for bedding and food (found at feed supply stores like Farm Target)

+something for moisture like a slice of bread, potato, or carrot

+some kind of small plastic container (like the lid of a to-go container or egg carton) for a pupa habitat within the larger storage unit

+some kind of stand to place your bread or potato to keep bedding below dry

How a mealworm farm works…

01. You put the meal bran down as bedding (there are other things you can use but this is what I am going with)

02. Place in your bread or potato or carrot preferably on top of something plastic to keep the moisture off the bedding.

03. Place pupa habitat within tub.

04. Put in the live worms.

05. Wait for them to do their thing.

It takes about 2 months for them to really produce more worms. Mealworms are the larva of the Darkling Beetle. What I love about this is that this is the science that Charlie is going to learn it in such a natural way. I love the way a farm teaches. It’s the best preschool I can offer to her.

Together Charlie and I will learn all about how the Darkling Beetles start off as eggs and we will separate our beetles from the eggs every two weeks or they might eat the eggs. I know all mothers can relate to that. The eggs hatch into tiny worms that grow into larger worms also know as the larva. This is what we feed the chickies.

But not so fast! We can’t feed them all to the chickens or we won’t have any new eggs. The trick is to save some and let them mature into the pupa and then the beetles, who lay more eggs, to hatch more tiny worms, to grow into more larger, plump delicious chicken treats.

Once a month Charlie will have to help me remove the worms and wash out the tub, replace the food and replace the worms and beetles to their rightful posts. She gets to learn animal care taking, life cycle, scientific definitions of pupa and larva, and responsibility. I love things that are a package deal.

Plus eventually the worm farming will be just Charlie’s job. It really only takes about 10 minutes a week and very minimal effort. It will save us a lot of money. We are The Happy Chicken Farm after all and happy chickens demand mealworms and mealworms a plenty.

If you or anyone you know has seen mealworms please contact me! Send wormy thoughts my way. They have to be around here somewhere…

 

 

Farm Girl Style: Vol II

I use to love this Hallmark line called Fresh Ink.  They were hilarious. Sadly, I must have been one of the only people to think so because they no longer make them. One of my favorite cards read:

“Wear cute boots. Cute boots make you feel like you can do anything

-that or kick it really hard…”

And I kind of have to agree. Boots instantly make me feel cool. As cool as a 32 year old stay at home mom turned chicken farmer can be…Sometimes I just can’t wait for summer to be over because I am SO excited to wear boots again. But I don’t want to wear my good cute boots when I do my farming and sometimes I need something more heavy duty then rubber. But they still need to be cute. I need the cuteness factor in my farming. It’s an important ingredient. Just like one must cook with love, one must farm in the cute.

It’s a rule. Write that down in your homesteading journal.

Plus I just keep picturing myself in a cute pair of skinny jeans, a flannel shirt, and some Timberlands only laced halfway up. Is that cute or weird? You know what? I don’t really care I think it’s gonna happen. Not the Timberlands. Don’t get me wrong I like them. I just don’t spend that kind of money on shoes and by I, I mean Ryan doesn’t let me, I.

You should start a go fund me page for boots for farmer Ashley. Then I would get the Timberlands. I don’t know why you are pressuring me so much to get the Timberlands. I’ll think about it ok?

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How adorable are these boots from Rural King? (Still need a go fund me page for these babies, goodness looking good in work boots is expensive business.) Makes me wanna put on a sundress and go to a county fair. You know you want to too. Mostly because we are all ready for it to be SUMMER?! Can I get a Mama amen?

We need summer. We need summer bad. Every day it’s nice enough I shove Charlie outside, tell her to breath as deeply as she can and we stay out as long as possible. Then she sleeps like the dead instead of rolling out of bed at 6:30 am. Wednesday we made it a record 3 1/2 hours outside. Woohoo! I love it.

It was seriously the sweetest thing. I was cleaning out the brooders, sweeping the garage, and cleaning out my disgusting car while Charlie was playing mama hen to all the baby chicks.  This little one went about picking up and rocking each little chick. She would quietly sing to them until each one was just a little piece of chicken putty in her hands.

Literally they would just lay belly up, eyes closed in complete and utter chicken contentment. This is why we are The Happy Chicken Farm. We sing and cuddle each chick- ok and we give them mealworms for treats. Chickens can’t resist a mealworm. It also gives them a nice little protein boost and I like to think the eggs have more protein. But I’m no scientist I would have to google that.

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What are you favorite things to cuddle? Do you snuggle your poultry too? Or perhaps you have cute boots. I like links to cute boots…

-Silkie Bantam Chickens-

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Guys I got new rubber farm boots with chickens on them from Farm Target!!! Oh I’m sorry Rural King, Farm Target is what I call it in my head because I can do about as much damage to our bank account in Rural King as I can at Target. True story. Sometimes I get banished from both places. It is an addiction that I fight.

Ok I’m kidding. I don’t fight it. I give in and get in trouble later. Usually it’s worth it but sometimes though I end up with something like a rabbit that hates his life and me…and then I think maybe I should listen to my husband at least sometimes. But don’t tell him I said that. We will let him find out if he is wise enough to read my blog…anyways…back to my story and Farm Targ- dang it Rural King…

I was really excited to find out that I already have a heritage breed animal on the farm! Two actually. Putin and Elsa my Silkie Bantam Chickens! I found them one day when me and Charlie went to Rural King for some chick feed. Obviously when I saw chicks with fluffy feet I had to have them. Duh.

Silkie chickens are what I had wanted all along because Tori Spelling had the cutest Silkie chicken ever on one of her many shows. It was the sweetest, fluffiest chicken I had ever seen and I needed a fluffy footed chicken. NEEDED. They are suppose to have great personalities. They are suppose to. That doesn’t mean when you go to Farm Target and you randomly pick up five chicks with fluffy feet against your husbands wishes that you will get a one with a great personality. Sometimes you get what you deserve.

And I got Putin and Elsa.

Really their names should say it all. Putin and Elsa? Fascist dictator and ice queen. Yeah pretty self explanatory but I’ll indulge your curiosity into the inner workings of The Happy Chicken Farm.

Much like the real Putin of Russia, our rooster is a bully who thinks he owns everything he touches. This coop? His. That patch of grass? His. The hens? HIS. HIS. HIS.  A lot like the real Putin. Everything in Russia? His. Crimea? His. Bashar al-Assad? HIS. Our Putin’s favorite activities also include a lot of crowing and chest puffing. I’m sure if he could ride a horse it would be topless.

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Elsa, poor Elsa, she is at the bottom of the pecking order. She is the smallest female and without the protection of Putin she is the victim of many injustices. She must watch her butt or it will literally get bitten -or pecked. She hangs back when I first bring out the treats or table scraps unless I throw some far away from the other girls. She won’t touch boo it until they have had their fill. But a pecking order is a part of a chicken’s life and someone has to be last.

Silkie chickens are suppose to make excellent mothers. Elsa’s sister, Anna, was always broody and trying to sit on eggs. That is unfortunately how she passed. She was sitting dutifully on her clutch of eggs and some predator got into the coop when Putin was out with the other ladies and I was gone. Only a trail of white feathers remained. Poor, poor Anna.

Elsa isn’t broody like her sister and I’m not sure if she is even capable of laying. She never started last year but sometimes Silkies can be late layers. Elsa is also my youngest chicken so that may have something to do with her not laying yet. White Silkies lay tiny cream colored eggs. They look like they should be filled with chocolate and placed gently in an Easter basket. I was really hoping to have some to use for Easter decorations but I don’t think any of my Henny Pennys are in the mood to lay eggs yet. A little more daylight needed. Soon enough it will be the needed 13+ hours of sunlight that chickens need to lay eggs. I cannot wait!