Archive for the 'worms' Category

08
Sep
08

ivy

Ivy, the Hog

Ivy, the Hog

I’m in Pescadero on the California Coast for a few days and find myself next door to a gigantic and very dusty pig.  Ivy looks almost too heavy for her stumpy legs. When I walk by, she strugggles upright, legs about to buckle, hooves splayed out like much-abused shoes, skin folded into a leathery carapace like that of a rhino. She grunts and snorts at every lumbering step, inviting me to offer alms.

Even lying down appears to be strenuous exercise, given her bulk. She carefully bends one knee and allows herself to list sideways a little, hesitating just a second before she gives way and keels over in a cloud of dust. She is a powerful warning against gluttony.

It may not be practical for every family to keep a pig, but it does occur to me that considerably less garbage would find its way to the landfill with an Ivy to take care of the vegetable leftovers. She eats everything except cabbage. While her diet is essentially the same, not counting the cabbage, she is certainly far more efficient than my modest little worms, if distinctly more odoriferous.

Oklahoma City's 1930s Piggery

Oklahoma City's Piggery (1930s)

Early in the 20th century, many towns in the US kept piggeries as the most economical waste management solution, perhaps inspired by the roaming pigs that kept house in the streets of New York City until the 1880s and 90s, as well as the many clandestine stationary hogs that many poor people stashed in cellars and hallways as a cheap source of protein.

Just this morning I heard on the radio that Al Gore advises us to cut out at least one dish of meat from our diet every week, to help curb global warming. I suppose a swill-fed Ivy could still deliver a guilt-free carnivorous feast. On the other hand, as I contemplate this hog snorting up a puff of dust in her carefully moulded dirt bed, it is apparent to me why various cultures consider pork unclean.

31
Mar
08

Entente

Some time ago I wrote about the arrival of worms in my life, a moment of unanticipated but therefore not less rueful buyer’s remorse on my part. We were off to a rocky start, those worms and I, with me on the cusp of an intense and unhappy ambivalence and the worms presumably shell-shocked out of their usual complacency by unaccustomed travel. (Check out Dilemma for the original story.)

I can now happily report that we’ve worked out some form of peaceful coexistence. I add some scraps to the bin and watch the lid go down slowly, at which point I add some more scraps. Other than that, nothing happens. Whether the worms are happy or disgusted, they haven’t chosen to let me know. They are very discreet, silently chomping away at the goodies. They accept the edges of the bin as the far reaches of the universe and haven’t given any evidence of a desire to explore the world, light out for the territories, or otherwise emancipate themselves from the family circle. So the whole thing, it seems, works out on both sides.

“Seems” because I confess that I have not performed a census of the population, either by counting or weighing my critters, to see how they stack up now against the original pound. I’m heedful of Annie Dillard, who, in Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek, creeped herself out by looking too closely at the writhing, swirling, pullulating abomination of hatching insect eggs. Not to follow her example, I have avoided too careful an examination and all I know for certain is that my wrigglers are in their bin and that they do in my leftovers, very, very slowly.

My worms are modest eaters, which is a good thing as well as a disappointment. The literature suggested that a pound of worms make short shrift with half a pound of scraps a day. Either this is a sales pitch or the population took a serious hit during the transition into my household. Anyhow, their modest appetite means I can leave them for a fortnight without a minder. It also means they aren’t making much of a dent in the overall volume of my trash. It also means that, until now at least, they aren’t really worth the effort.




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