“Talk to the Animals”*…
The sound that Gary Revell makes is otherworldly. Somewhere between a rusted door creaking open and a bullfrog with a sore throat. The simple materials he uses to create the sound – a strip of metal rubbing up against a wooden rod pounded into the earth – make it all the weirder, but that’s nothing compared to its effects on the environment around it. Like magic, the noise drives hundreds of earthworms out of the ground as if reporting for duty.
Revell is worm grunting, an obscure but effective way of gathering earthworms for fishing bait that inhabitants of his town Sopchoppy, on the Florida panhandle, have been practicing for generations. Also known as worm charming, worm fiddling, worm calling, worm snoring, and any number of other regional variations, the act of rubbing wood and metal together to create vibrations in the soil has proven to be one of the best ways for gathering the hearty, meaty Diplocardia mississippiensis earthworms that this corner of the Apalachicola National Forest is known for. In a typical morning, Revell can gather 3,000 to 4,000 worms with his wife, Audrey, which they sell in buckets of 50 for $35…
Dig more deeply into this art and science ay Modern Farmer‘s “Worm Grunting: The Age-Old Tradition of Charming Worms out of the Ground“; and watch the action at the Sopchoppy Worm Grunting Festival in this video:
* the title of a song written by Leslie Bricusse for Doctor Dolittle, and winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1968 (for 1967)
As we agree with Darwin (and Aristotle), we might recall that it was on this date in 1954 that Peter B. Cortese managed a one-armed dead-lift of 370 pounds– 22 pounds more than triple his bodyweight.