Animal Stunts - Pets,  Tiny Kingdom Exclusive

Who’s My Favorite Wormy?

Drew made up a song several years ago that has just one lyric:

Squirmy Squirmy Squirmy, He’s my favorite wormy!

He marched around the house singing it in one note, then a higher note, and so forth until he was screeching and I locked him out of the house.

Last week two thousand worms came to my house on purpose, and I named the first one Squirmy.  Now we’re singing the song again,  but very quietly, so as not to hurt the other wigglers’ feelings.

This all came about because a friend who’s quite earth friendly, and has enough devotion to the cause to drive a car powered by the grease discarded by various Los Angeles restaurants* told me that she composted inside and used worms to speed up the process, in a method known as vermicomposting.

Up until then I’d been a composting wannabe, and went to far as to keep a large pot outside into which I threw all my fruit, peels, coffee filters and some grass clippings, but I never turned it, and it attracted flies that zoomed into the house and ended up in my bathroom at night, zigging and zagging from one side of my bathroom to the other, delirious with the light.  I kept a swatter under Bill’s sink and regularly murdered three or four flies a night, and I knew there had to be a better way to achieve a loamy humus to spread on my herbs.

The next day I ordered a composting kit (you can make one, but if I was in such dire need of speedy composting, I damn sure didn’t need to waste time crafting a worm bin).  The worm hutch came before the worms so that I could get it all prepared for their arrival, and Porter and I went straight to work.  We put a couple of sheets of damp newspaper on the bottom of the box, and then covered it with shredded paper mixed with coir and the decayed matter from under a bush.  Apparently this is the equivalent of a decadent spa environment for worms.

We finished it off by putting a handful of food scraps in one corner and then waited for our new housemates to arrive.

You’ll recall that when the local high-schooler annihilated my mailbox I was pissed not only because of the destruction but also because I was awaiting a package I was sure our crotchety mail lady wouldn’t deliver unless we had the proper postal receptacle in place.

As it turned out, having the mailbox replaced so quickly wasn’t all that helpful.  The lady shoved the box o’ worms into our mailbox with such force that I was sure I’d open it to find stressed out red wigglers (a common malady of those who’ve been shipped long distances) or worse, worm custard. The prospect of a clump of deceased invertebrates drove me into such a fury that I photographed the box from every angle so the post office would not charge me to re-ship live worms, but I’m sparing you and posting only two views of the damage.


(You know that I have a bad relationship with the post office in general, don’t you?  And BTW– I haven’t yet located the mailbox marauder.  I’m beginning to lose my faith in the blogosphere.  The point of filming my tragedy (other than amusement) was to snuff out the MBHS teen who drives a Toyota Tundra or similar dark truck– with brush guards– and get an apology and restitution for the damage. So far, I’ve gotten nada.  But I digress.)

Ladies’ fine shoes and purses sometimes come encased in a thick papery materiel, and my worms were so special that they were packaged in the exact same fabric.  It was an elegant touch, Happy D Ranch!


When I opened the bag, instead of a shiny Coach purse I found the equivalent of twenty plastic tubs of bait, (all wiggling happily as far as I could tell) with nary a squashed worm to be seen.


From there, all I had to do was spread the worms carefully over their new habitat, cover then lovingly with a layer of shredded newspaper, and let them adjust to their surroundings.



Late that night, after I was already tucked in bed, I remembered that I had failed to leave a lamp on in the ping-pong room for the worms.  That’s an essential part of the process which encourages them to burrow far down into the bin.

“Honey, would you mind getting me some more ice water?” I asked Bill.

“Sure.”  He got up, and then I added, “Hey, while you’re up, will you turn the lamp on in the ping-pong room?”

“This better not be about the worms,” he muttered.  He’s skeptical of the whole idea, but just wait until he sees my fertile soil next spring.

“It’ll just make me feel safer, what with the burglaries and mailbox bashings we’ve had around here lately.”  That was true.  I’d feel lots better if I knew that 2000 worms were tunneling down, away from the light, not seeking escape.

It’s been several weeks now and the worms are doing well.  They’re growing big and healthy and I couldn’t be more proud!  I think I’m a grandmother, too, but it’s hard to be sure.

I’ve fed them coffee grounds and filters, shredded used paper towels and junk mail, crushed egg shells, fruit and vegetable peels, dryer lint, and a host of other crazy items you can read about on the Happy D web site.  The other night I had some mushrooms and a banana that had gone bad, so I pureed them in the Cusinart and plopped it in the bin.  There’s a reason you don’t see “Paillard of Chicken Infused With Mushroom Banana Coulis” on menus and that’s because it’s a rancid combination for humans, but Squirmy and his friends are digging it.

That’s just me and Squirmy having a little fun!


One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: My Mac Daddy And Me (Yep– the inappropriate Halloween costume issues pop up with boys, too!)

Sarah wears rocking clothes and talks about going grease hunting in L.A.  Jimmy Kimmel should have her back to talk about worms!


  • andrea

    I watched the Kimmel interview, I’m totally not surprised that you and she are friends. That was really funny.

    Also, did you get to go see Lyle Lovett and Bill Hiatt and the Alys Stephens Center a few weeks ago? I went Saturday and it was a good show.

  • cynthia

    we have a compost pile!

    it’s in the corner of our backyard, with a mini little fence around it, and sunk into the ground. the previous owners had it, we continued it, and now we’re selling, so then next owners will continue!

    we put all of our scraps out there, it makes a great fertilizer.

    hope squirmy and friends work out good :o)

    cynthia’s last blog post..i love…

  • MammaLoves

    Yours is one of the blogs that I wish I could hear read in your voice. Of course I added my own southern accent while I read it–makes the whole tale even more wonderful.

    Okay. As for the worms. I need to figure out where I could put them. I’m so inspired!!!

  • Email From The Embassy

    I was right there with you on the idea of worm composting. Until I saw the photos and realized – THEY’RE IN YOUR HOUSE. Ummmm – ewww? Is there no way to worm compost without allowing them to enter your living room? Coz I’m just not that green.

    Email From The Embassy’s last blog post..The Big Track Meet

  • Bhamdining

    So what has the boys’ reaction been? Do they think it’s cool they have a mom who actually has worms in the house? Are they getting ready to conduct science experiments with them?

    Bhamdining’s last blog post..Upcoming Events

  • jenny uk

    We have two large compost bins in the garden, everything goes on them and they are full of worms but I didnt put them there, they must just crawl in from the garden!

    The british post office isnt much better, I have a photo somewhere of the fragile box of hatching eggs that arrived crushed and crumpled!

  • Katherine

    I have a compost pile which gets added to regularly, maybe a gallon or so of compost a week. How much food waste can the worms handle? I’ve thought of doing the worm composting – not having to trek outside in the heat, cold, wet, etc would be very appealing. But having to chop everything up finely – not so appealing.

    Katherine’s last blog post..You know it’s Fall when

  • Sarah Jane

    NICE!! I’m starting a worm revolution! So since I’m the inspiration for the squirmies, I feel compelled to answer a few of the questions and a address some of the concerns:

    1) They will not escape into your living room…the don’t like light or air, so if they are trying to crawl out it’s because they are suffocating them with too much stuff, but I’ve never seen this happen.

    2) You don’t have to chop everything up…it will break down faster if you do, but not necessary! And they work faster than you think.

    3) You can leave them outside…optimum temps are between 40 and 80 degrees farenheit though, so that’s easier in CA than most places. Mine’s under my kitchen sink and it just sort of looks like a trash can or something.

    4) Also, just a side-note, you don’t have to feed them everyday but you can. Because we’re just a 2-person family, our scraps are fewer, and I usually feed them about once a week. I keep my scraps in a bowl (allow air, that’s what keeps it from stinking) in the freezer, and once a week, take it out, cut the stuff up with scissors and add it to the bin. Keeps the fruit flies and house flies and stink away. Eggshells I grind in the coffee grinder.

    4) The compost is like steroids for your plants, herbs and vegetables. I had a vine near-death, put a little scoop of castings on top and the thing was blooming a week later!

    Thanks for sharing and I hope the trend continues! And if you care to read my blog about my worms (just another take) check this out: