Worms: The Gateway Animals (or the Story of How It Began)

The gateway theory, when applied to drug use, is the theory that the use of less deleterious drugs may lead to a future risk of using more dangerous hard drugs and/or crime. Recently, I was reading a book on backyard chicken raising, and I saw a reference to chickens as the “gateway animals.” In other words, once you get a chicken or four, within a few years you may very well find yourself living on a small plot of land out in the country, surrounded by goats, sheep, rabbits, rows of vegetables and canning supplies, and maybe even a cow or two.

I recognize that this might be an odd way to begin the story of how the inhabitants of a little house in a little neighborhood in Indianapolis wanted to live more self-sufficiently, but I realized, for us, chickens were not the gateway drug. In fact, worms were.

20110417. worm harvesting!

This is not to say that we didn’t already have not-so-latent do-it-yourself tendencies or a love for understanding where things come from, how they work, and, most importantly, how to do and make and, ultimately, live for ourselves. But I digress…

This blog will be a place where we share our trials, tribulations, digressions, and successes as we decide how we apply a more self-sufficient aesthetic to our own lives. Part diary, it’ll also simply help us keep track of what went swimmingly well and what we might be able to improve next season. I must emphasize that we don’t know quite what we’re getting ourselves into or have much of a clue what we’re doing, although who really does when they’re first setting out on some magic, chicken-related quest? We’ve got a lot of books and strong backs and brains. At the very least, I’m sure some of our predicaments will be mildly entertaining or outright ridiculous.

So to welcome the new year, I raise my glass to the worms. Yes, the worms, those lovely, unsung gateway animals living in a bin in our pantry who were responsible, in part, for setting us on the path to creating our very own space-farm continuum.

early-august garden. american gothic.

5 thoughts on “Worms: The Gateway Animals (or the Story of How It Began)

  1. The picture is the best ever. I hope it’s on the first page of your family album. Worms, the new gateway drug into farming! I wonder if that means I should get a vermi-composter going. I can’t wait to read more!

    • YOU REALLY SHOULD, NIKKI! It’s so easy to compost with worms (all it takes is a shredded paper bag and a small rubbermaid to get started… oh, and some worms from the bait shop). Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself with a flock of chickens on a farmstead in another five years – with MEEE!!!

      • The only thing I worry about is the worms reproducing and having nowhere for the extras to go. Jer has already turned down the chicken idea. He said MAYBE when our children are fully grown and out of the house. For now I’m just going to have to live vicariously through you!

      • Worms are awesome like that, though – based on the space they have and the access to food, their population is actually self-limiting. So unless you move them to a bigger container, they should reach a balancing point in their population and reproduction. Wild, right?!

        And, hey, if there ever do get to be too many, you could set them free in a farm field somewhere to live out their days under a hay bale or in a pile of manure. Oh, what happy wormies!

  2. Pingback: Year of the Chicken « Space-Farm Continuum

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