They’ll Eat That

We have a lot of pets: Eugene, the cat; Dewayne the turtle; guinea pigs Baconator and Boudin; but we also have pets who also have ‘jobs’: our bantam hens and our worms. They take care of the kitchen scraps so there’s not so much waste going on. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, consider giving a listen to the 99PercentInvisible podcast: Best Enjoyed By

Doug Rauch:
We waste a staggering amount of food. The average American wastes somewhere between 20 and 25% of the food they acquire.

Roman Mars:
And it’s not just wasting the food, it’s wasting the water to grow it, the transportation to get it to the supermarket, everything that goes into getting food to your plate.

My family donates to a local food pantry and in my hometown, we’ll bring things to a Little Free Pantry, too.

We got started with being serious about this in 2013 when we got red wigglers

Vermiculture, First Day

This is them straight in the bin before I’ve done the whole setup, but the worms still live in this same container — it’s a large sterilite bin inside a plastic laundry basket, set up in the garage (the laundry basket catches any moisture that might leak out).

There are holes in the Sterilite bin so it lets in plenty of air but keeps things nice and dark. This is a good website for some basics.

There’s definitely a sweet spot on how much to feed the worms, but basically the more we feed them, the more worms there seem to be; scale back on the volume of scraps, and fewer. Allllways just vegetables and newspaper — never any meat or dairy, tomatoes, potatoes, or citrus (but YMMV because some people do give some citrus). Our worms seem to really like banana peels and carrots, especially, not particularly excited about celery for some reason.

You can keep a spray bottle around to give the environment a spritz if things are looking a little dry, or add more newspaper if things are looking too wet. It’s actually fun trying to figure out how to make the perfect environment so your worms are living their best life.

The guinea pics DO love celery, though. And carrots and collards and that kind of thing. They get only fresh food like we would eat.

Boudin snacking on celery

this is Boudin, and he is a celery man.

We started with a thousand worms, but you can really start small and just get a container or two of fishing worms from a lake store.

Red Wigglers

Now, the chickens are super, super fun. They get an almost daily treat of some kind — often carrots that have been through the Cuisinart, but also just about any other kind of fruit or vegetable scrap from the kitchen.

My bantam hen, Zelda

This is Zelda, a Polish chicken, and she’s eight years old, which is pretty old for a bantam hen (her sister Tallulah, a bantam Cochin, is the same age — we got them when they were two days old).  Neither of them lay eggs anymore, but they did up until the last 18 months or so, which is also pretty good.

We have some new bantam chicks which are just starting to lay now — we got them in August. Here you can see their pretty brown eggs (though we have an Easter Egger which lays pretty blue/green eggs — more about that next week) next to a large Eggland’s Best egg.

New eggs

They are terrific fun and besides kitchen scraps and such, in the warmer weather, I grow allllll kinds of herbs to treat them. They eat a variety of those — just absolutely tons of herbs, really — plus weeds (they love weeds!) from around the yard too. More about chicky fun next week.

PS: look how cute Zelda was as a baby…already had her little top fluff going