Sow There!: Worms, chicken costumes and things to plug in, Dec. 29, 2017

Red wigglers, they certainly can worm their way into someone's heart.
Red wigglers, they certainly can worm their way into someone’s heart. Photo by Heather Hacking
The rubber chicken finally, fully adorned.
The rubber chicken finally, fully adorned.Photo by Heather Hacking

After all the planning and careful decision-making, it’s gratifying when a holiday gift is a big hit. For my niece and her hubby, the big moment arrived late Christmas morning. The three children had unwrapped Minecraft socks, Nerf guns and art supplies, building a pile of wrapping paper that blocked the front door. These were great gifts and many moments were spent reminding the young boys that they were not allowed to point a Nerf gun inside the house.

After a snack break, (apples and peanut butter) each child was given a wrapped gift, which by shape and size the children guessed was a DVD.

Nope, it was a video game, with extra DVDs for extra video game add-ons.


Just so you know, I do know about Minecraft. The third-graders in Miss Clark’s class wore Minecraft T-shirts and read Minecraft books. They talked about mysterious (to me) digital weapons and murmured about zombies and beet-loving pigs. However, I had never played the game. In fact, I have still never played the game.

“This is an Xbox game,” the eldest child in my family deduced, holding the Minecraft game in her hand. “We don’t have an Xbox player.”

The kids scanned the remainder of the presents under the tree. There must be an Xbox in the unwrapped pile of presents. Yet, all that remained was an unwrapped Pepperidge farms sausage and a pair of socks.

The dad of the house stood up and unveiled the Xbox in a smooth swoop of his hand. The new center of the family’s universe had been hidden in plain view.

He had hooked up the electronics the night before and hidden it under a wrapped box with a cut-out bottom.

The youngest of the three children literally bounced up and down for about half a minute, which was enough time for his mom to grab and press record on her cellphone.

I think this was the last time I made eye contact with the family that day. Soon there were four sets of hands on Xbox controllers and distracted responses to my questions about how the game was played.

The 6-year-old child appeared to have completely forgotten that he cried the night before when he opened four separate presents containing artificial poop.

“This is the best ever,” my niece said, while reviewing the video of her son bouncing up and down in a joy-filled Minecraft meltdown.


I know how she felt because I found the perfect gift for my mom’s boyfriend.

Thank you, Worm Farm in Durham, for popping that pound of red wiggler worms into the mail before the new year. When I arrived at mom’s house on Christmas Eve, I was led to the garden to tour the compost bin/worm production area at the side of the house.

Mom’s beau, Steve, showed off his two matching circles made of chicken wire, each about 3 feet in diameter.

The fall leaves haven’t lost their color, and the bins looked like they were filled with large-sized confetti.

When he reached under the leaves barehanded, I saw that the red wiggler worms had found a cozy spot to reproduce, eat garbage and obtain happiness.

Steve looked pretty darn pleased as well.

Mom also had her triumphant gift-giving moment. She likes to sew and when I was a child she made amazingly trendy outfits for my Barbie dolls. Barbie had camping outfits and ’20s flapper costumes, Little House on the Prairie skirts with matching aprons …

This year, mom created a red cape and matching Santa hat for my rubber chicken. It’s a seasonal costume so I’m hoping she is inspired to create a happy bonnet and sundress in time for the rubber chicken’s Easter outings.


A few more things should be noted about worms. Red wigglers do not dive into the soil like the night crawlers we see while digging a hole.

R. Wigglers like it best about 6 inches under the soil. This means that any time you need to grab a fistful of worms for a small child, it’s as easy as unveiling an Xbox. The worms reproduce rapidly by producing yellow-ish, pearly balls that contain tiny worms.

(If you accidentally spot worm eggs while planting snow peas in a third-grade classroom, you can easily lie to children and say they have discovered fertilizer pellets.)

Wigglers love coffee and melons, according to They’ll do well in Northern California’s cool temperatures, but it’s the heat in my mom’s hometown that might require some TLC.

Uncle Jim suggests creating shade and remembering that heat will dry out the compost/worm bed. Add more water in the summer.

I think I’ll wait a few months, then head over to Steve’s house with a bucket. By then the worms should have reproduced enough baby worms that he won’t notice if some go missing. If all goes well, mom will have had time to craft a summer safari outfit for the rubber chicken.

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