I have been reading the “Exquisite Risk” by Mark Nepo and I took a picture of this chapter because I really want to share it with you. This is one of those books that found me and his words are exactly what I need to hear right now.
I have done a wonderful job at physically simplifying my life. I live in a bus, I share a car with my boyfriend, I have parred down my wardrobe, I cook and eat healthy food, I am able to create time for myself, and I garden. Yet, the inner peace I thought simplifying my life would provide still eludes me.
As a girl, the characters I most admired were the revolutionaries, the warriors, the singers, the teachers and poets. As a young woman I tried to be these characerts. I approached what ever I was doing with the desire to help people and the environment and while there is nothing wrong with that, I was pursuing that desire without being aware that I was also searching for something else: peace. The kind of peace that can only come from being seen and recognized for who you truly are. I struggle with work, because I don’t feel seen. I feel like a shadow of myself when I am there. I realize now that when I feel like quitting work and running out the door, my real desire is to use such a bold action as if to say to myself, family, friends, and community: “This isn’t me goddamnit! Being a receptionist is not all of who I am. I am Amanda. I love being outside and getting dirty. I am a revolutionary in my own way. My passion is homesteading and entomophagy, and helping people reconnect with nature!!!!!!”
Maybe if I can be aware of what I am searching for I can be more honest with who I am and what I want to do with my life. If I am not searching for fame and just peace, how might that change my actions and life path? How can I can satisfy my need to be seen without the grandeur of fame? How can I see myself and honor who I truly am? These are questions I will think on for a bit and in the meantime I want to practice noticing when others are just asking to be seen for who they are and honor them:)
I have been away from my blog for the last two months and have been writing a ton of posts in my head but I haven’t actually written any of them down. I am sure you know how it goes:) It is spring after all and I have been distracted!
I almost gave up hope on my tiny farm. All the meal worms were originally in one big bin which was going great until the bin became too moist and mold started growing. They also starting transforming into pupae and then beetles so I feared cannibalism. In their world, eating your friend or your baby is probably fine, but it’s not good for business! I looked to several videos on You-Tube for advice and many seasoned meal worm farmers have had success using a multiple bin system where you separate the meal worms, pupae, and beetles. I chose the Sterilite drawer system and bought two, three drawer units and stacked them on top of each other. Many farmers suggest cutting a 10 inch square in the beetle drawer and putting in a mesh screen so that their eggs could fall through into the next bin. This is a wonderful idea, but I couldn’t make it work because the beetles always found a way to wedge themselves under the duct tape and got stuck. I even used aquarium glue as a food-grade adhesive but it wasn’t strong enough to hold up the screen and the weight of the beetles and the oats they live in. I am willing to try again if any one else has a better idea on how to make this screen idea work because it would make sorting them so much easier.
Here is a picture of what my set up looks like:
I also stole an idea one woman had and I now put the food for the bugs on pieces of paper so that if it gets moldy it won’t affect the oats. Since I switched to this new system I do not have any problems with moisture or mold.
Even after converting to this new way of doing things, there were a few weeks where I almost threw in the towel. It took a lot of time and effort to move all of the meal worms and then it took another eternity to separate the pupae and then to separate the beetles. I worked so hard, but nothing was happening! Where they mating? Where they eating their babies? Where they happy? I couldn’t tell:( I began searching for ways to turn their home into the ultimate love shack and I must have done a good job, because now I have hundreds of super tiny meal worms!!!! They love darkness hence the duct tape and they love heat which we have been getting a lot of lately.
I ordered some more meal worms mostly so I could have something to eat until the babies grow up (oh my God I sound like a monster), but also so I could ensure that they all don’t metamorphose at the same time. So far I have been able to harvest a few tablespoons of meal worms which I freeze and then I either fry them up and sprinkle them on food or put them in smoothies. I am hoping that I can grow enough meal worms to provide myself with a large percentage of the daily protein, DHA/EPA, and B-12 that I need. Here is a picture of a taco I made with meal worms fried in garlic and butter and another picture of me enjoying it!!!
In my previous post I talked about commitment. All my fears are still with me but I am sticking with it and here I am eating meal worm tacos! Right when I thought about giving up I met a friend of Matt’s who teaches survival skills and who surprisingly is trying to raise meal worms to eat too. He is discovering many of the challenges that I am, and after talking with him I realized that it is people like us that must go through these challenges and learn from them so that we can inspire and educate others. Eating bugs isn’t a new thing, but farming them for human consumption in the US is, especially in colder climates like the Pacific Northwest. I want to show people that there is regenerative alternative we can turn to to provide us with the protein and nutrients that we need. I know I am a weirdo, but hopefully I can help normalize the eating of bugs and bring the idea into mainstream consciousnesses.
Being a bug farmer is not what I had in mind when I said I wanted to be a farmer. Perhaps I should have been a little more specific when I prayed to the universe, but I kinda like that the universe surprised me and helped me find my niche. Bug farming isn’t glamourous, but it is wonderous and beautiful in its own way. When I peer into the bin full of mealworms, I see a microcosm and I feel as connected to the ecosystem as I would if I were farming chickens or vegetables.
Any type of farming is like a marriage and requires a deep level of commitment. Healthy, regenerative farms are born of great effort, but I am nervous about this whole endeavor. I am struggling as I explore my relationship with commitment and have a lot of fear towards committing to a great many things. I am afraid of being responsible and depended upon because what if I fail? What if I am not good enough? What if the grass is greener on the other side? What if I am vulnerable? What if the deepest purest expression of myself is not met with love? When I actually get these worries out of my head they seem commonplace, but I spent my twenties feeling the crushing enormous weight of these worries and now have only begun to let go and commit to what I love despite fear. Scott Peck, a psychologist said that “love is effortful.” It just occurred to me that having my own personal ceremony where I commit to being a bug farmer and entomophagy educator may be a powerful way to solidify my commitment. It sounds silly, but as with a marriage commitment, there’s a sense of security that goes along with it. As long as I put forth my best effort and keep trying no matter what, it’s okay to fail and it’s okay to not be good enough. I am ready to inspire, educate, and learn; come what may.
So with that said, allow me to introduce you to my tiny friends!
I ordered them online and had them delivered to me through the mail. Following directions I read in a book and online, I put them in the refrigerator to slow them down while I prepared their new home which is a plastic 20-gallon container. I poked holes in the lid with a screwdriver which was really easy, and then I filled the bin with rolled oats that I ground up in a blender. This apparently gives them more surface area to live on. After this, I put them in their new home with some fruit and veggies and Matt and I stared at them for a while which was actually quite interesting and fun! I planned on keeping them warm with a heat lamp, but I didn’t feel good about leaving it on overnight due to heat lamps being fire hazards:( So now they live in the bathroom next to the heater which keeps them at the low end of their preferred temperature at 70 degrees. I hope that as it warms up they’ll be happier and friskier and will make more babies! Now I am just waiting for magic to happen. In a week or so they will morph into beetles who will then make babies that will turn into mealworms and start the whole process over again. I’ll keep you updated on this entire adventure as it unfolds.
P.S check out the receipt for everything I needed to set my farm up and the mealworms only cost $11.50.