Tragedy at the Worm Farm

Lanette Sobel - Thursday, October 13, 2011
Sometimes I find it helpful to write to complete the grieving process, hence this blog. When I had my first mass suicide of worms, I always meant to write about it, but somehow time escaped me. But now it's time. Three weeks ago our worm farm was wiped out by an infestation of flatworms -parasitic, invasive, prolific breeders whose favorite meal happens to be earthworms. On Saturday, when we gone through most of the beds and I realized that we had lost 95% of our worms, for some strange reason I could not get the Wizard of Oz song "We're off to see the Wizard" out of my head. Trust me, I don't think I've ever had that song in my head.

I think it was because subconsciously I had accepted what had happened. There was no turning back, no salvaging more worms. The worms were gone. Partly out of negligence and ignorance (I had NO idea that flatworms were an issue and it wasn't even on my radar) and partly just pure luck. It turns out that this is a very rare occurrence that hasn't been heard of for 5 years in Florida and even the top vermiculturists in the US know little to nothing about it.

I think it's fate. And lucky for me, I'm an eternal optimist and I believe everything happens for a reason. So what's the silver lining in the cloud? We're moving the farm! To a place that is much better suited to our needs than where we were. We will also be focusing more on education. And when we have our farm up and running again, it will be tremendously better because we will have spent the time to make sure that we're doing things efficiently and most productively. And among other things, we'll have less mosquitos in the summer. :) And don't worry, we have and will continue to have worms, castings, tea and soil amendments if you would like them.

In the end, I guess if you take everything that happens as a learning experience, there's always a benefit, no matter how 'tragic' it might seem at the moment. I've never met a worm farmer that didn't lose his/her crop at one point or another. I guess if worm farming were easy, there would be more people doing it. I think I'm wiser and more knowledgeable from this experience and I'm just happy that it happened at the beginning than a couple years down the road. Now we know what to look out for. And I think the saying is true - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

That said, it's time to move on! This month and the next promise to be power-packed with earth-conscious events, activities and workshops. I feel like it is fall on steroids. So be sure to check out "Miscellaneous" under our shop to find out more.

To the eternal optimist in all of us, happy fall!

- Lanette

P.S. A big thanks to Fertile Earth's greatest supporter - the husband - as well as our worm mentor, Larry. Thanks for all your help saving the worms. You have no idea how much we (FEF and the surviving worms) appreciate it. :)