All right, I have to admit that not all of my experiments go well. Like the rabbit den that seems to hold water remarkably well and the exercise pens for the young rabbits that also is a flooding nightmare. I however, will never stop experimenting, because there are those successes also; like the black soldier fly bin or building a beautiful picket fence out of pallets. Yes, this is leading up to my latest test; was it a benefit or a bust?
Loving the benefit of black soldier fly larvae for my chickens during the summer months, I thought it would be great to have these insects producing during the winter months too. At least, I was hoping to extend this food source as long as possible. When we were expecting the first freeze I devised a plan. I moved the black soldier fly larvae from their compost barrel to an old ice chest some one had given me. I very cleverly cut a top for the chest out of pink insulation board complete with a climbing tube(vacuum hose) and a collecting receptacle (plastic storage container). I just have to ask for a moment of silence here, because tragically my vacuum had sighed and given it’s last suck. My kids have a running joke that I loved it a bit more than them. While I REALLY liked Melvin(my vacuum), I can truthfully state that he got a place in between all my children and I don’t pick favorites.( hee, hee) I can’t help it! He doesn’t complain when I ask him to help, nor does he roll his eyes or even sigh loudly. What is not to like about that! He simply just sucks! My son John, who is fixer of all things on the homestead, took apart my vacuum cleaner(Melvin) and attempted to get him sucking again. Sadly,he had a few parts left over and could NOT produce a running machine. (Secretly I think he was a little jealous of Melvin and didn’t REALLY want to see him up and running again.) I have to state here, just for the record, that Melvin was NOT my favorite child! I do NOT pick favorites! Hey, at least my fixer on the homestead; John, tried. Kudos for that, right! So a big shout out to Melvin, who contributed his hoses to this project.
The whole black soldier fly experiment had to come inside right before the first freeze. My plan was to keep it in the garage with a heat mat under it, but I wanted to keep an eye on it to see if it worked first. I woke up Sunday morning to black larvae ALL over my dinning room! Apparently I greatly misjudged both the desire to escape and the amount of space it took these determined creatures to squeeze through to freedom. Most Sunday mornings I am in a bit of a rush. This particular morning I had to get to church early and take a dish to share, in addition to my kids and I being dressed and neatly combed. I hurriedly swept and picked, all the while my daughter jumped and squealed, adding drama to an already hectic situation.
I guess by now you have realized that my latest experiment to extend the supply of black soldier fly larvae for my chickens into Winter was a HUGE bust. Not one larvae climbed up the tube into the waiting receptacle. However, MANY squeezed out of the ice chest on to my dining room floor! In hurried frustration I just dragged the whole thing out into the chicken yard, tipped it over and said, “Good morning girls!” Perhaps black soldier flies are just something my egg laying divas are going to have to enjoy just in the summer months. Who knows, I might try something else at the end of the summer to keep larvae producing through the Winter. I do love experiments! What have you experimented with on your homestead? Was it a boom or a bust? Share in the comments. I love to hear from you!
Shout out to Greg, who left a comment with a very informative series of utube videos on raising black soldier flies. Thank you, Greg! See link here. While the videos were very interesting and informative, they seemed to make the process seem a bit complicated, to me. The bin that I built was low cost and had no” harvesting interaction” with the larvae. Meaning, NO , you don’t have to touch them at all, just make it rain on them with your sprinkler and out they come for your waiting chickens. See articles on black soldier flies here.
If you are interested in raising black soldier flies for your chickens, fish or songbirds, check back; I will be doing a getting started tutorial in early spring. I consider this the single most efficient, sustainable thing I do on my property! I always say, “Putting garbage (veggie/meat scraps) in and getting chicken food out, well you just can’t beat that!”