Friday, May 21, 2010

Dog Poo, Worms, and a Mexican Walking Fish

We recently acquired a Mexican Walking Fish named 'Nim' along with a fabulous tank, courtesy of Karisma (who most of you probably know from here). I've set the tank up in the kids' playroom; a great executive decision on my part, as I often find Keanu pressed up against the tank mesmerised by the little albino amphibian ...

Anywho, I digress. Nim came to us with the specific instruction that he only eats fresh food ie. worms. Being that my daughter is something of a bug fanatic, Aunty Karisma thought it perfect that Nim should come to live with us! So after about a week of plucking juicy big worms out of the garden I suddenly remembered about my worm farm!

About 18 months ago, I started an experimental worm farm to dispose of the dog poop. At the time we had four dogs and in a suburban backyard the poop was getting to be something of a problem. I didn't want to bag it in plastic and put it in the bin -- that, to me, is just the same as using 'disposable' nappies. I didn't want to compost it either, as we use the compost on edible crops and dog poop can carry all sorts of bacterial nasties that can be easily transferred to humans. After a bit of searching I deduced that worms could be used to compost poop ... so long as that's all they were fed (i.e. you can't feed them poop and vege scraps at the same time). So armed with a box of worms, a couple of styrafoam containers and a whole load of doggy doo I set up a little farm.
It started out veeeeery slowly; a few months in there seemed to be very little action. The poop didn't seem to be getting touched, and the worms didn't seem to be multiplying. The box got shoved in the back corner where it is nice and shady and that's where it stayed, full of poo, all but forgotten until we had to replace the fence. This meant that we had to clear up all the crap that had accumulated in those little-used corners of the yard. My brother and I went down to start moving it all, when he asked what to do with the styrofoam box.

'Chuck it' I said. 'It's full of dog poo; a failed experiment.'

'Are you sure? It doesn't look like dog poo ... it looks like pretty good soil.'


Sure enough, there was little dog poo left in there and, when we turned it over a bit (with a shovel of course!) we found it to be FULL of big fat wriggly red worms!
So not-so-failed after all. We moved it out of the way with plans of extending it but again it kinda fell by the wayside. Until Nim came along ...

We trudged down to the back garden, wrestled with the grass (which is still threatening to strangle us even with this colder weather ... we have the greenest backyard in the suburb!) and found the styrafoam box ...

A thorough dig turned up absolutely no worms at all :( I guess they all left to find greener pastures -- or should that be browner pastures? He he he!
In their wake though is a box chocka block full of glorious dark worm castings ...

So this weekend I'm going to go buy another box of worms. I found a few more styrafoam boxes when we cleaned out the garage last weekend. We only have two dogs now, but that is still more poo than I'd like to be dodging when I go out the back! Once it's established again, we'll have an environmentally friendly way of disposing of dog poo which in turn provides a source of food for Nim who in turn provides nice fishy water that I can use on the garden!
Ahhhh ... biodiversity!


karisma said...

Amazing! We also tried a worm farm when we first got Nim but the dogs ate it! Im kinda liking this idea of the worms eating the dog poo though. I never thought of that one. Nim also loves to eat fish, maybe you could breed them in a smaller tank? Gives him a bit of exercise too as he has to catch them himself.

PS. Thank you for taking him, his tank looks so much nicer already! :-) Great Picture! xoxoxoxox

Kel said...

Nim seems very happy in his new home :)
Indi sets up her keyboard in front of the tank and plays random music to watch him dance. He seems to like the high notes; he swims to the front of the tank and dances LOL!!

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