A drizzly day and a dog walk are perfect conditions for worm hunting. The sodden paths and wet tarmac bring the worms to the surface so they don’t drown. We just had to walk along and collect them up.
I can’t say I was ever very squeamish about touching worms, but I will also say they were not something that I was rushing out to touch. As a never tried it fisherperson and until recently non-gardener, my encounters with worms over my life have been fairly limited.
And then Maggie (duck) came into our lives. And gardening. And Maggie liked to help me garden. As did the chickens, at the time. In fact, I could rarely get my trowel anywhere near soil without the call going out ‘worm hunting time!’ and anything feathered would come running. Literally. In fact the ducks now recognise the shovel and what it stands for.
Worm hunting is now a regular focus in our household. And not just on dog walks. Most lunch times will find me out in the garden somewhere, turning over rocks. Lots of little helpers assist in checking underneath to see if there are any wrigglies.
Come summer and the soil drying out, this is a good time particularly for looking under rocks, as rocks create moist spaces. On the flip side, if it is super cold and the ground is frozen, then worms go to ground, as it were. So stone turning will reveal nothing. This is when there needs to be lots of digging. If possible.
The best is when a garden area is being dug up, like turning the duck enclosure into The Secret Garden. Digging down and moving earth always shows up worms, and brings the little beggars flocking around. Work slows down as I have to watch where to put my spade and where I am dumping the soil each time.
As our garden hasn’t been touched in at least 30 years the worm population is fairly healthy. And sometimes huge! I never knew worms could get so big. And watching one of the ducks try to eat a large worm is very funny, as the others try to steal it. This results in lots of running around with a worm hanging out of a beak, trying to swallow it, whilst ducking and diving. Sometimes there is success. Sometimes there is sharing.
We’ve noticed that there are different levels of worms, too. The bigger ones are certainly lower down. Except on rainy days. On rainy days the bigger worms are the ones we are more likely to find on our dog walks. Maybe, simply because they are easier to spot.
I am not certain how smart worms are, but I have noticed when turning over rocks that the larger worms are the faster to pull back into the soil. The smallest ones rarely move even. This gives the impression that a worm survives to largedom through being or gaining smarts. Maybe. Or maybe worm hunting makes me ponder way too much about worms.