Worms for sale, and very small eggs

👤Charlynn Toews 🕔Jun 01, 2012

Every year at this time, every June and July, I dream about the small farm I could have.

“Worms for sale,” said the signs along the highway on our trip from Terrace, through Ontario lake towns, New Brunswick river villages, and into Nova Scotia.

“We could have a small farm,” I said to Hubby, “with very small livestock.” Land in eastern Canada was way more expensive than we were accustomed to in the West.

Worms are good for fishing in spring, summer and fall, and great indoor composters during the winter, so a year-round market would be available for our exploitation. We could breed and sell the wiggliest kinds for fishing, and the hungriest ones for composting.

“Hmmm, don’t think so,” he replied, as we settled into a high-rise apartment in downtown Halifax. Do you know that the rents rise a bazillion percent a year in that city?

We started house-hunting around the outskirts of the capital, although still longing to keep our status as Haligonians.

Then we got this fabulous flat, the top floor of a house in the cross-the-harbour neighbourhood of Dartmouth, where I grew a whole garden in containers on the skinny steps leading up to the third floor. The tomatoes were amazing, what with the southern exposure and naturally raised beds.

“Bees!” I said. “If you think the worm is a good companion for human activity, think about the pollinating bee,” I argued persuasively.

“Okaaaay…” he said, in the manner of someone drawing out the last syllable for such a long time you begin to suspect there might be a catch. “Where are we gonna keep them?”

Fruit flies gathered in our lovely Dartmouth flat as the tomatoes finished their ripening in the south-facing windows. “There are certainly plenty of these,” I said. “And, if gathered in enough abundance, could offer both a source of protein for the hungry and a supply of test-subjects for labs run by biologists like David Suzuki.”

Issues including a lack of recipes and shipment to third-world countries or the West Coast were discussed, and proved too risky for profit. I thought about—but did not express—my firm belief in the ability of fruit flies to last, or at least to reproduce in great numbers before succumbing to old age, on a single cucumber slice for three months or more.

In late summer, our cat got fleas. Say, don’t flea circuses require new recruits, apprentice trainees, from time to time? Who supplies THEIR needs? We are talking thousands of jobs here, people! There are likely to be accidents every once in a while, on the high wire perhaps, or perhaps someone quits the Circus to start a family on a larger, more slovenly cat. There is turnover! “No,” he said.

We moved back to Terrace and had a kid, whom we dutifully sent to school. “Head Lice,” I said. “We now have an almost-inexhaustible supply.”

My husband is a patient man. “No one wants those,” he said.

“Okay,” I said, “What about the lice eggs, combed carefully, free-range, organic, 12 to the teeny-tiny-carton?”

Next I suggested offering other small creatures as livestock to be sold. “Cold and and flu germs! Viruses! Chicken Pox available here!”

Later, a vegetarian friend of mine was teaching in Africa, and partook of the annual feast of Wedding Ants. (Fried or not, I thought that she was cheating.) What about chocolate-covered grasshoppers for Gemma’s? Fresh crickets for the Tarantula in the Terrace Public Library? “Shop local,” I said.

“We are not farmers,” he said. I guess he’s right.