Raising worms
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I have learned a few important facts about women and wives in particular. Wives can be quite territorial when it comes to the kitchen and their appliances.  Let me tell you about it.

Many years ago when I had more energy than sense, I read in the back of a magazine that I could make a bundle raising worms (red wigglers to be precise).

For those who may not be up-to-date on their worms, red wigglers,
(Eisenia foetida) are manure worms.
They derive their name from the fact that when picked up, they coil themselves up and spring into the air. As you can imagine, the fish find this rather interesting.

Well, I set up my worm beds and hauled in a ton of fresh manure;
(now there is a smell you won't soon forget).
I ordered 10,000 worms (I still believe I was shorted a couple hundred).
Of course I didn't realize these were very immature worms that enjoyed eating more than breeding.

It was quite a while before they got over their modesty and started doing more than laying on the couch eating manure. It might have been sooner, but I didn't realize they prefer not to breed at the dinner table.
(they need a separate area; something to do with the PH or acidity)

(This story is beginning to get out of hand; I will try to shorten it up a bit.)

Here is how it works; you eventually need to separate the worms from their castings. Castings are what is left after a bunch of worms eat a ton of manure; (the technical term "in-the-business" is "worm poop")
The mature worms are then separated for sale, but they can't be too fat or they won't wiggle. The rest of the worms are put back to bed with another ton of manure.

(This was the point I discovered you can't believe everything you read. )

Here I was with a ton of worm castings and a bunch of overweight worms that I couldn't even give away. Knowing it would be difficult to locate 10,000 tiny treadmills, I decided to concentrate on the worm castings. It was the only way to recoup what I had put out on manure, wood and worms.

I visited a nursery where I was told they would buy the castings, but they had to be dry, sterilized, and bagged. No problem!, except for being well into the eleven month rainy season in Seattle. Drying anything in the sun was out of the question.

I had to find a way to dry a ton of castings quick. I concluded it was best to use an oven to sterilize and dry them in one operation. (Makes sense, right?)

My wife was gone visiting her parents, so I decided to get started right away.
There were two racks in the oven, so I located a couple of my wife's cookie sheets to hold the castings.

At the time, I didn't know a whole lot about cooking, especially worm-digested cow manure. After a little thought, I concluded 450 degrees would be sufficient to dry and sterilize the castings.

I loaded the cookie sheets and understanding this was going to take some time, I went out to mow the lawn. After about an hour, I decided to check on my casting business.

As I tried to explain to my wife,
I had no idea that cooked worm droppings could smell that bad or that they were flammable.   It has been nearly twenty years now since I was forced out of the worm business. It was the original hostile takeover, way before that Donald character even got started.

Strange as it may sound, on a warm day when the humidity is just right, you can still catch the heady bouquet of flaming worm castings on the breeze.

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