Thursday, 9 April 2015

Shelter for the worms....

I have worms... intentionally

This is not a weight loss technique, I have worms to make dirt for the gardens. A friend who is right into worms was talking to me awhile ago, and she loves her worms, she uses the dirt (casings) from the worm farms to grow seedlings. It is fantastic. The dirt is like nothing I have even felt before, it looks rich and vibrant in color, it is soft and fluffy, great to work with. Best of all, it is pretty much free to make it, and simple. Throw in food (off cuts of veggies and scraps) along with newspapers, cardboard, anything like that and the worms will eat it up and 'poop' out nice fresh organic healthy dirt :) Can't ask for more than that! Also water them occasionally, they need to drink too :)

Well, there are a few things that I know about growing worms so far, the main one is that they like eating scraps and living in dark moist areas. So, I want to make my little worms as happy as possible, and grow and give me lots of nice yummy (not to me) dirt. Since my friend gave me worms (they were in a small polystyrene box (modified to suit worms), I have upgraded them to a fridge. I know, that doesn't sound very 'homely' however the fridge is just the container. It is laying on its back with no lid on it, with drainage holes under it. On top of the fridge (where the door was) is an old wooden Venetian door to allow some air flow and water/light to come in, but not too much light, and most of all to NOT allow my chickens to have a fiesta in there! :)

From all the other posts you should have worked out that all the animals live together, this does meant that I have problems, a lot of problems at times. One of which involves chickens, ducks and geese trying to eat/destroy everything that I make, including (and especially) the worm farm! So making a lid was essential for the survival of the worms and my new dirt.
Apparently worms will keep reproducing to fit their environment, so having a larger container like this means that I should have more dirt :) I am not in a rush for the dirt, however I have this method and 3 different styles of composts working, so soon I will have so much nice dirt I will not know what to do with it all :)

So what are you looking at there? That tin shed is the chicken coop (where they get locked in a night time (chickens, ducks and geese), walking in front of that camera (always after attention) is one of the two Muscovy ducks, and directly behind her at two fridges laying down (one on the right is covered in shade cloth to stop the light). Right now only one of the fridges is being used as a worm farm, the other was going to be future expansion (until about 3 hours ago), but I will talk about what that is later.
This setup is not the best if you are a worm, kind of neglected there :( so you will have not happy worms, we want happy worms. With people, when we are depressed we eat more, but with animals it is the opposite (shows that we are not all that smart eh?), so I want worms that are so happy with life that they will eat through concrete (worms will not actually eat through concrete).

So what am I going to do to make my worms happy? I will build them a new house :) Of course.

So, using that shade cloth that I already have (was reclaimed from someone who was downsizing!) I had to go out and purchase a few little things.
The drill and gloves I already had, but just showing you what I was using :) I had to buy the 2x D-shackles and the 2x Eye bots, you will see why in a minute.
So, before I continue I have to mention again, I have no idea what I am doing, I just own a drill and gloves and have a lot of spare wood. Please, if you are going to try this at home, don't tell your wife I told you to do it! Be careful.

So, attached to the side of the chicken coop is this now, I drilled a hole just big enough for the eye bolt to go through, however the pack only contains 2 washers and nuts, and I wanted one on each side of the tin (to stop it from slipping), so I dug through my large pile of washers and nuts that I have reclaimed throughout the years, and found two that fit, and this is the final product :) There is a problem with this design, the problem is that same every time you use recycled materials. The shade cloth is a little wider than the shed, I will fix that later (and it will make it tighter) but for now it will work nicely.

So the idea from here is to attach once side of the shade cloth (this shade cloth has the pre-attached shackles on the corners) and the other side, well, that is the problem, there is nothing there. So I have(/had) two options, make a full frame (like the NOCC) or just the posts needed to hold up the shade cloth, I went for the second choice, not because it seemed easier, but because I like to try new things and see what happens.

So, I have to make a supporting frame for the other side. Like I mentioned before, I am not a builder or anything like that, so I sat down for a minute and just thought about what I needed, and what could go wrong. I know that I need wood that will be vertical for the shade cloth to attach to, however that will just fall over, so I should support it. So, I braced it in the front and across the two poles.
This is what I kind of ended up with.

So the piece along the top connects to the other vertical piece, and the blue part you can see stops it from collapsing, I also had to stack the wood under it to match the height (If you don't get it, ask, I have more photos and information :) )
Also to stop it from falling forwards (towards the chicken coop) I added supports.
Kind of hard to make out, but the large blue bits are going to stop the whole thing from falling forward (I hope!!)
After a large struggle (I was by myself) I got the frame up and the shade cloth attached, so far it has not fallen down! :) And it is working the way I wanted it to! Yeah for recycling!! :)

This is what it looks like now (compared to the first shot) so not much changed, well, not for the worse that is for sure. Now there is protection from the sun for the worms, and I can work in there potting plants and what-not while under the shade :)

I will note, that while doing this myself there were so many problems that I faced, including how to erect a frame yourself (I run out of hands), so clamps where used a lot in this, it fell down once at the start (before the clamps) and was a little dodgy before it all got finished. The only thing left to change now is the position of the furthermost point on the chicken coop, it is too close and causes the shade cloth to 'sag' near the coop, not a great concern, something I will deal with as time goes on :)
Here is a picture of the clamps (as the sun was coming up)
Yes, the tree was caught in the cross fire, but recovered nicely. Don't stress.

So there you have it, hopefully I will have happy worms that give me lots of nice dirt now :)
If you would like more information about what I did, please ask. I have lots more photos and information that I have not put up here. Let me know if you need anything :)

Well, I must go, I have much more to do, and more to come in the posts soon!
I hope that you all have a great day, filled with smiles and happy worms!!