Local worm farmer got inspiration from unexpected source
Sometimes signs can come in the most unexpected places.
Brian Carpenter can attest to that. He was taking out the garbage two years ago on his 16-acre property in the Town of Trimbelle when it struck him.
Carpenter and his wife Michaela had been exploring different businesses that could be more family-oriented to include their growing family. (At the time, the couple had five children. They're expecting their seventh in August.)
As he was taking out the garbage that rainy night, Carpenter saw the ground filled with night crawlers.
"The Lord must be telling me something," Carpenter said.
It was as Brian went back and inside and told his wife, "Honey, I know what business to go into. I'm going to be a worm farmer."
Brian remembered her reaction was "Huh?," but over time she warmed up to it.
Thus began the introductory process which was a learning stage in more ways than one.
"I had to do a lot of research and compile background information," he said. "It's not as simple as you think...People think we're just picking worms off the ground. There's a lot of science and variables."
There was also the information he gathered that said farming, as a whole, was a business you couldn't start from the bottom, it's a business passed from generation to generation and it's not profitable.
Carpenter heard and read that information. His response? "I trust the Lord's vision."
Therefore, after compiling all the how-to information, Carpenter started the business Carpenter Worm Farm last January. By being the only known worm farmer in the immediate area (Carpenter said he knows of one in Eau Claire and Central Wisconsin), he targeted his business to night crawlers and organic fertilizer.
With the popularity of night crawlers for summer fishing, Carpenter knew the chances were there for success. However, he decided to change things up.
"Our night crawlers are non-refrigerated, which makes them unique," he said. He explained those crawlers thrive in warm temperatures compared to those that are refrigerated, which have difficulties adapting to the heat.
Organic fertilizer, which is non-burning and long lasting, can provide the plant with more soil-producing nutrients than the traditional fertilizer, along with the proper drainage. Some additional benefits include vigorous plant growth, a fibrous root system and an improved soil aeration. The fertilizer comes from earthworm castings, which is the scientific term for manure excrement. Brian said the organic fertilizer is great for lawns and hanging plants, along with indoor or outdoor applications. (He added that, on the farm, no chemicals, additives or contaminants are used.)
Overall, he explained the business is still in the developmental stage, as not enough babies have been born. Once that happens, he believes the business will take off.
But, as already mentioned, one of Brian's goals when starting the business was for this to become a family-based business. So far it's true, as Michaela usually handles the business-side aspect besides home-schooling the couple's six kids, Joah, eight, Jalen, six, Samiah, four, Gabriel, three, Azaria, two, and Seraina, six months.
"She helps me in a lot of ways," Brian said, as the couple will celebrate its 10th wedding anniversary this year. "I couldn't do it without her."
And the kids get involved because Brian added they're usually assisting him in some form while he's working. Said Joah: "It's neat," when asked about what his dad does. "I like the machines and I love working in the dirt."
For more information about the Carpenter Worm Farm, interested parties can call 273-5748.