Mealworm Farm Update

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:

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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.

I am a Bug Farmer!!!

 

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.

 

My Handwriting and Me

The Truth about Serge Benhayon

I decided to change how my handwriting looked when I was around fifteen years old. I remember the moment vividly. One of my friends at school knew a guy who was into handwriting analysis and so she’d had her handwriting done for a laugh. I listened to the interpretation of her idiosyncratic scrawl during a morning break with great interest: a squiggle here meant this and a flourish of a certain length meant that.

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Be Ignited or be Gone

What I Have Learned So Far
by Mary Oliver

Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of — indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

I woke up this morning with jealousy.  Who know how much of the night I spent jaws clenched, grinding my teeth?  How many times did I have to remind myself to relax my shoulders?  A few years ago, I wouldn’t have known what to do with this stress.  I probably would taken my jealous feelings and hidden them and then that energy, still needing to be expressed would have found its outlet somewhere else.  I would have expended it on my ex husband, mistaking love for co-dependency, or I would have used that energy to distract myself by consuming movies, or shopping, or going to bars.

“Be ignited or be gone”, says Mary Oliver.  Jealousy is fuel.  I woke up jealous of my friend because she is doing what she loves and is making a living doing so.  I started to feel sorry for myself, but then I noticed what those feelings of jealousy were making my body want to do.  They were making my body want to move.  I am clenching my jaw and it hurts because I am spending so much energy keeping myself from talking and sharing my voice and perspective.  My shoulders hurt and are tense because I am trying so hard to restrict myself from reaching out and grasping the life I want.  Holding so much energy back is exhausting and I am learning to let go.

So today, I let jealousy carry me over to my bike, and through the park, past the geese and to this coffee shop where I am now writing for this blog.  Later, I will let it help me as I do what I need to do to set up my meal worm farm and then I will allow it to encourage the discipline I need to study so that I can share what I learn to help others.  I don’t have the energy for indolence anymore, I choose action.

 

 

January: The Month of Buying Only What Was Considered a Need

Going into the new year, Matt and I decided that we would try and spend money only on things we deemed to be a need which seemed pretty cut and dry at the time.  I assumed a need to be rent, food, health related expenses and transportation.  I can’t speak for Matt, but I did a really good job, or so I thought until I looked at my spending on Mint.com, which is a free budgeting software program.  It turns out that I can justify most everything to be a need.  Food is a need, of course, but I spent a total of $507 on groceries, restaurants, and coffee shops.  Every time I went out for lunch I told myself that my soul needed it.  When I spent money on gas to go to Ashland, I told myself that my soul needed it.  When I buy coffee on my breaks I tell myself that my soul needs it.  It’s true, my soul needs it, but as I look back over my spending, I wonder what it is my soul is actually needing.  Matt pointed out that maybe I get coffee on my breaks because I need the social interaction.  I love talking to the lovely people that give me coffee and I love walking over to get it.  When I go out to eat, it’s actually a form of entertainment and a change of scenery.  So this month as I reset my budget, I need to redefine what a need is, and what my soul is actually needing.  I have clearly done a great job at not buying stuff, but when when it comes to food, defining what food is a need and what food is a want is a little tricky!  If I can be more mindful of what the definition is I can potentially save a lot of money since I spend more on food than anything else.

Going forward, here are some things I am going to try in order to cut back on money I spend on food for February:

  1. Buy ground coffee, or tea and make it myself at work and then go for a walk.  The coffee shop I go to is closing, so this is a good time to change my routine.  Being out in nature nourishes me and maybe on my walk I can find other lovely people to interact with:)  Can my social needs be met this way?  We’ll see…
  2. Matt and I talked about only eating out once per week and making a routine of it.  It’s easy to forget how much I eat out!
  3.  Since we will be eating out less, that means that I need to be better at preparing my meals at home.  This is time consuming, but the money we save will help us get closer to our goals.
  4. Budget for PMS.  Seriously.  I spend more money on food the week before my period when I am depressed and ravenously hungry than any other time of the month.  If I can anticipate that I will be spending more money on food during PMS, I can use the rest of the month when I am more rational to make better choices and save money on food.
  5. Budget for fun especially towards the end of the month.  It’s easy to be good with money for a few weeks, but then I start feeling deprived so I spend more.  Every week I want to have some mad money that I can spend however I want and not feel guilty about.  Maybe I take cash out every week and when the money is gone it is gone until the next week.

Well, this seems like enough for me to try this month!  I am excited to see how it goes!

 

A Leader is Simply the Person who Goes First

As a person with a passion for simple and sustainable living, the act of eating insects resonates with me and gives me so much hope for humans.  Our planet isn’t able to support us all if we (especially Westerners) continue to rely on beef, fish, and poultry as our main source of protein, B-12 and DHA/EPA.  The farming of insects requires WAY less water and other resources to produce the same amount of nutrition, if not more.  I am excited about it because anyone can farm them!  Unlike a regular farm, insect farming is accessible to people with a low-income, people without access to land, and people who don’t have the physical abilities that most farms demand.  After specializing in sustainability education in Graduate school, I wandered around trying to find my place within the sustainability movement.  I thought that getting involved in the earthen housing movement would be an effective way to help people reconnect with the earth and help them understand the burden conventional housing places on the planet, but the more I got involved the more I realized that access to land is an obstacle that most people cannot overcome.  I could get involved in helping people learn how to garden using permaculture principles, but what is the point if more and more people don’t have access to dirt? Having an eco-hostel and farm is still a dream of mine, but until I can find a way to acquire land, I want to make a difference and give back to the earth and my community all that I have learned.

In the permaculture world, people often say, “the problem is the solution.”  I have wanted a hostel for so long because I wanted people to have a real life example of what it means to be living in a reciprocal relationship with nature.  My problem though has been that I do not have access to land.  But that is my solution!!!!!!!!  I didn’t realize that until recently. I don’t have access to land and neither do most other people.  I feel that leading other people into the world of entomaphagy is a way for me to do the greatest amount of good, with the smallest amount of resources.  By farming insects in my own home, which is currently a greyhound bus, I can give people a real life example of what it means to be living in a reciprocal relationship with nature.  I don’t need land to teach that.

I will keep you posted as a become an insect farmer:)  I have taken the first step and have purchased the equipment I need to begin, now I just need to order my Mealworms.  (I am starting with Mealworms because unlike Grasshoppers, they can’t escape as easily!).

The title of this post is “A Leader is Simply the Person who Goes First.”  Even though I am not the first person to embark on the adventure of insect farming and eating, I am the first person that many of you know to do such a thing.  The western world just needs people like me to show them what the rest of the world already knows to be true: that insects are economical, EXTREMELY nutritious, good for the environment, and very delicious.