Around The Farm: Copious Castings And Curious Caverns

That’s not mud

It’s been warm and rainy here and the ground is thoroughly saturated…which means lots of mud: sucking mud that tries to swallow your boots and coats surfaces with slippery goop that invites spontaneous acrobatics that sometimes result in getting up close and personal with said mud. While farmers may not like the mud, worms sure do. And it wasn’t difficult to tell that the worms had come out en masse overnight because they left telltale “calling cards” everywhere.

Those calling cards were, of course, piles of castings (worm poop). While worm castings may not seem very exciting (and may even seem a bit gross), they’re incredible fertilizer, arguably the best natural fertilizer. Worms ingest organic matter and, after it undergoes digestion, excrete what looks very much like mud, but in interesting formations, some of which resemble brains.

Worm castings deserve respect and admiration: the digestive process actually removes heavy metals from the ingested matter, and the castings themselves are full of minerals and other nutrients that are essential to healthy plant growth. Fertilizer gold.

Since the area where all the worm castings were found is frequented by the geese, I suspect that the worms are enjoying the goose poop left by the gaggle. Goose poop is actually green from all the grass and vegetation they consume, and it likely still contains a significant amount of organic matter that attracts the worms. Because it undergoes a round of digestion within the geese’s digestive tracts, too, the worms may also be benefiting from the microbes in the digested matter.

Right next to goose poop – coincidence? I think not.

Along with the worm castings, we also happened upon what, at first glance, looked like a pile of canine poop. Closer inspection revealed that it wasn’t a mound of scat; rather, it was a burrow! Though they’re reclusive creatures that are rarely seen during the day, we know we have burrowing crayfish on our property, thanks to a previous encounter with (a feisty) one that was, for some unknown reason, out and about in the middle of the day.

The crayfish residing in this particular burrow was nowhere to be seen, but the mound left from its excavation work attested to the hard work it had put into making its tunnel. Who wants to have to push out all that heavy, soggy clay?

The burrow also showed just how wet the ground was…and that’s from the rain we’ve already gotten. The forecast is for heavy, flood-level rain tonight and steeply dropping temperatures overnight, so while we didn’t have a white Christmas, a white New Year’s Day is a possibility. I hope the worms and crayfish are safely ensconced in their respective holes/caves/tunnels and sheltered from the elements so that they can begin 2022 ready to resume their important wild creature work.

To all of our friends, wherever you are: may 2022 bring you personal growth, good health, and joy. Thank you for following our adventures – the highs and the lows – in 2021 and we hope you’ll continue to join us on our journey. Happy New Year!