Permaculture problem solving meets redneck technology



Some of y’all are familiar with the problem solving principle popular with permaculturists and plenty others: make the problem the solution. I’ve mentioned it before for things like getting the chickens to shred leaves for me to make them happy and to save me time and energy running the shredder, and how we gained more by doing it this way.

Today I finally got around to solving two problems: chicken feed being too expensive and the jumping worms in my garden.

Sometimes I’m slow to put things together and the fact that all the big fat worms I was seeing were jumping worms is something I only recently realized. They’re a relatively new invasive that aren’t super good for the soil in the long run, though to be fair I think they were good for my potatoes.

Still, I need to get rid of a bunch of them, at least to slow down their spread.

At the same time, I have a dozen chickens and while I mostly feed them on weeds and kitchen scraps (and sometimes the maggot bucket I’ll get around to writing about soon), I do keep layer pellets available to them for when I don’t get around to giving them enough other stuff. Plus, the new ones I got had all lost some feathers and needed more protein (I think they were overcrowded and underfed in the last home). Store bought feed has shot up a couple times in the last year and a half, as have so many other things, and I always operate on the assumption that I shouldn’t be reliant on the store bought stuff.

Enter the “worm grunting stick”. This is a little bit of rural, low tech technology that’s used to drive worms out of the soil and, generally, onto a fishing hook. It’s basically just a wooden stake about two feet long with a bunch of notches carved into it, and a shorter stick with no point or notches. Then you drive the notched stake in a few inches, run the other stick over the notches repeatedly, and watch the worms come out of the ground. It’s honestly kinda gross.

This has been working insanely well for me, to the point that the hens might be sick of worms.

If you’ve got invasive worms like me or even just enough you can spare some, and especially if you want to feed yours or someone else’s chickens, you can whip up some grunting sticks in short order and get more worms than you ever expected.

If you’re doing it just for fishing worms, you’ll need to find spots with worms; look for castings and try after rains or at night.

Happy worm catching!

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