A Biological Model: No one tells the elephant to hurry up her pregnancy

A couple of months ago, a group came out to the Worm Farm to see if worms could eat the spent remains of an anaerobic digestion system. I told them we could test a sample and the worms would let us know very quickly if they liked the food or not. I told them the story of a colleague who brought over compost he had made from wine must; the material that wineries have left over after they press the wines. He had composted the wine must and it looked pretty good. The seeds from the grapes had all burst from the heat of composting. The color of the compost was brown and while the smell was a bit on the acidic side, all seemed well. My colleague had come over for 5 pounds of worms. He wanted to see how well they would like his composted material.

We did a little trade; I handed over the 5 lbs of worms and  in turn he brought out some bottles of his wine for payment. I asked him if I could try a little bit of his compost and do my own little trial, and see if the worms liked to eat his compost. He said sure, and I put the compost into a box, added some worms, and went up to the office to attend to some phone calls. About 30 minutes later, I got a somewhat frantic phone call from my compost friend. He said as soon as he got home, he opened the trunk of his car, and instead of seeing a box of compost, he saw a mass migration of worms crawling around in his trunk. I told him to wait a minute. I ran down and checked my box to see how my worms were doing in his compost. My worms were also crawling out of the box. The sides of the box were nothing but a solid mass of worms, wanting to get out of the compost. The reason for the mass migration; the grape must compost was far too acidic for the worms. Grape must is around 3.5 on the PH scale, which is quite acidic. Neutral soil has a PH of 7.0. The worms did not like the material, they voted with their feet and they let us know immediately.

After telling my visitors this story, they nodded and laughed at the image of a mass worm migration. By this time we had wandered over to one of our VermiComposter beds; where each 80’ bed houses about a million worms or so. I told them the worms would process the material in 60 days. One of the visitors an engineer, piped up and said what if we heated the bed with warm tubes of water, and made it warmer; could we speed up the process? It was an innocent question, one I have heard over and over. Can’t we just speed up the process? Can’t we make it more efficient? I turned to him and said no one asks an elephant, who has a 22 month pregnancy, to hurry up and have her baby. Imagine telling your pregnant wife to be more efficient and make the baby faster. Making babies is a biological process, and it takes the time it takes. Worms are part of a biological process too, and as I told the engineer, it takes what it takes. There’s no rushing an elephant, or a worm.

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4 Responses to A Biological Model: No one tells the elephant to hurry up her pregnancy

  1. Zap says:

    Quality takes time.
    Worms on steroids
    Some engineers should drive trains

  2. Zap says:

    My youngest grand daughter will be performing at the farmers market in Rohnert Park on 7/6/12 at 6:00pm She will be doing 6 songs during the intermission of the professional entertainment . The group that she will be in front of is not the Pointer Sisters, but the Pointless Sisters.

  3. Jill and Bob says:

    Great story, great storytelling! Jill

  4. Dean Alms says:

    Worms rule!

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