Grow your own worms for fishing

When it comes to raising livestock, Barb and I have had our share of ducks, geese, chickens, and even hogs.

They all required special attention and we learned to respect farmers who actually do this for a living. Those days are behind us, but my newest livestock, if you can call them that, are nightcrawlers.

Don’t laugh. I am very sensitive about my crazy endeavors. Besides, Barb has already aimed her fair share of snickers my way.

Before we analyze my sanity, let me point out that the verb “raising” is a misnomer concerning nightcrawlers. From what I have read nightcrawlers cannot be raised from birth to hook, as opposed to red wrigglers and manure worms.

If you doubt this statement I suggest you read The Earthworm Book by Jerry Minnich. Somewhere in the 372 pages of this study of worms I think you will find the statement that earthworms only breed in their natural habitat. True or not, Mr. Minnich knows a lot more about the subject than me and I’m going with what he says.

I buy my nightcrawlers on the hoof, so to speak. It’s sort of like buying our white leghorn chicks ready to go at the feed mill instead of using our own incubator. Of course our chicks needed warmth and we installed a brooder in our coop. With nightcrawlers it’s just the opposite and we needed a way to keep them cool. It seems that the ideal temperature is between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

To maintain the proper temperature I always kept my crawlers in a spare fridge in our downstairs family room, but my space in that fridge kept diminishing so I decided to buy a new fridge just for worms.

You’re laughing again, aren’t you? Barb doesn’t always laugh at my crazy ideas. Sometimes she just shakes her head and rolls her eyes. Anyhow, the new fridge is in my garage workshop and there is room for nightcrawlers and even some liquid refreshment if I have a hard day on the water. Sometimes fishing can be hard, thirsty work.

Anyone who has raised any sort of livestock knows that you cannot just stick them in the barn or coop and forget them. The same holds true for nightcrawlers. First you need something to keep them in and some sort of bedding.

I used to use good old Buss Bedding, but now I use nothing but containers and bedding from Magic Products, Inc. Not every store carries these products, but I find it worthwhile to search for them. I use two of their Magic Worm Ranches so I can alternate which box I use for fishing. I also use bedding from the same company.

Instead of the laying mash and grit I fed chickens, my nightcrawlers are fed Magic Product worm feed. While my worms need nutrition I need to be careful that I don’t overfeed. Just a thin line down the center of each Worm Ranch does the trick.

I also have an additive that is supposed to make nightcrawlers eat more and grow bigger. I haven’t tried it yet. I prefer my worms in their natural color, but I met a fisherman once who fed his worms an additive to make them turn green. And you thought I was strange.

If you want to keep your worms healthy, you need to inspect them at least every couple of days, especially when you first get them. Throw away all of the dead worms or any that do not look healthy. Sick or dead worms will affect the entire batch and you will soon have nothing but a box of smelly dead worms. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.

If you try this worm ranching thing you might want to make sure the lid on the barn has ventilation, but is secure. I had a stampede in my fridge and spent a while trying to round up all of the escaped little doggies. I might need to string some fence in there somehow, or I could just put weight on the top of the lid; which I did.

Now that I seem to have my worm ranch under control I guess I’m ready to go fishing. However, I have one more question.

Does anyone know where I can buy a tiny branding iron? I also need to come up with a brand for my worm ranch. Maybe the Circle B?