Ant Farm

I admit to a self-centered fascination with wordpress stats. I know, write for good content, write for enjoyment, write to write, the subscribers will follow. I still look at the numbers and marvel at what drives them.

Oddly, one of things I learn when examining my search term stats are that a great deal of the googlers in the world find me by using the search words: Ant Farm.

Ant farm? Ant farm. Yes, I did post a photo of my youngest son’s Christmas present over a year ago as I marveled at the ants working together and likened it to a crop mob helping at a local farm but for this to be chart topping is a bit perplexing. I googled Ant Farm myself. My blog is nowhere to be seen in the first few pages of listings so I have no better idea of how or why it drives traffic. But I did come across this story of Milton Levine, the founder, creator and entrepreneur behind the Ant Farm.

Ant Farm Entrepreneur

You see, Milton Martin Levine died two weeks ago at the ripe age of 97. He was in his thirties at a family gathering when while watching an industrious group of Pogonomyrmex californicus, he told his brother in law, “We should invent an antarium.”  In the days, weeks or months that followed, they fashioned a clear cigar box with a frame and Uncle Milton’s Ant Farms became commercially available for $1.98.

Levine’s business grew quickly through his use of television advertising placed during kids’ programming. He expanded the line with larger ant farms and those with upscale frames. We’ve certainly had more than one grace our home and if you’ll remember, the ants never arrive with the farm. Rather you have to send in a coupon and wait for your 25 worker ants to arrive at a later date. Because of Levine’s death, I learn that federal law prohibits shipments of queen ants across state lines. Therefore, once your workers have expired, you either dig your own or order again. Today, ant farms sell for upwards of $10 and last year Milton sold Uncle Milton’s Ant Farms for upwards of $20 million.

Agrigirl’s take on the Ant Farm

What’s intriguing about this story for me is not the fact that a novelty item put Levine’s three kids through college. Rather, I love that Milton and his brother in law, EJ Cossman acted upon an idea. And in retrospect, it was a fairly random idea. How many times have you had an idea that you let expire like a worker ant?

I keep a google doc open all the time called: Ideas and any time a thought strikes me like “I should make an antarium” I log it. And darn it if a couple of times I haven’t watched someone else launch one of those very things that I have written down quite successfully. No, I never thought of ant farm but do you remember me writing about Jim Killeen? What would it it take to explore an idea deeper? What does it take to get it off the page and in between two pieces of plexiglass and a wood frame?

Is this simply entrepreneurial spirit or is there some greater germination process in order to move ideas forward?

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70 Comments

  1. I know! Isn’t it odd how people get to us! One of my top queries is co-housing. Great blog, Tammy!

    Reply
  2. humanitarikim

     /  February 19, 2011

    The Google search “boy scouts” brings people to my page. It’s odd, but I am totally with you on the stat thing. I admit, I check them a lot. :/

    Reply
  3. It is curious the odd ways you can be found.
    My top search tern is chef poems.
    But i’ve had a result for shmancy before.
    That is a word one person used once in one comment on one post. lol

    Reply
  4. I’m not so interested in stats, but I do find the mechanics of Google search interesting. It’s fascinating to see what people are interested in and WordPress stats does give us a little glimpse into that.

    Over the years I have made some very good friends with whom I became acquainted through my blog.

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  5. I love seeing the words that lead people “to my door.” :)

    Ant Farms are fascinating to watch. Watching the ideas arising in our mind can also be quite fascinating. Especially if we capture them for further exploration.

    Thanks, Tammy.

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  6. A couple of interesting facts about ants:

    Ants are critical to life on earth. Without ants, the earth would be covered in organic debris many, many feet deep.

    Ants are among the most violent creatures on earth. A leading entomologist and ant expert once said that if ants had nuclear weapons, life on earth would be over in a week.

    On the subject of ideas: I once read that a messy desk is a contributor to creativity and new ideas. As you are going through the piles on your desk, you find things you thought were interesting and connect them with new ideas and projects. I don’t know whether its true or not, but it helps me feel less guilty about the mess in my home & work offices.

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    • Ah Andrew! Perfect feedback from an expert in natural pest control. Thanks for reading. I did look for some information on ants to show their connection to “growing things” but decided to go down the Levine path of “growing ideas”. And I hear you on the messy desk syndrome.

      Reply
  7. I love the idea of an always open idea doc! I think I’ll give that a try. I truly believe that the simple act of articulating ideas and intentions in writing increases the chance that they’ll materialize. I realized with surprise a few days ago that two things I’d written about as intentions in a personal mission statement process about 14 months ago have become reality…with no real plan in place beyond stating them “out loud.” If your ideas somehow manifest in other people’s actions, I suppose there’s some good in that too.

    Reply
    • I agree that there is good in both and I’m so impressed that you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. It will make a great blog post Eleanor.

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  8. Ooh, I really like your idea about the ideas document! So often I think of things that I’d like to do/have in my life, but without putting them tangibly in writing, it’s easy to forget/let life slip by. Though, to be honest, I’m not likely to be getting an ant farm anytime soon! :P

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  9. Yes, the Google Search has fascinated me from the beginning, Tammy. The most popular seach for the past few months is angel visitations. Mmmm – glad to be considered part of an angelic theme. Please don’t burst my bubble if there’s some dreadful drug or something out there called angel visitation!! :)

    Other fascinations with Google Search – the way people put phrases together and their spelling. Highly entertaining.

    I relish stories of people totally loving an idea and making a fortune off of it. When rooted in good, it blossoms with good.

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    • Cracking up Aimee as I’ve learned that an agrigirl is also known as a mail order bride! Oh well. I’m certain that angel visitation has another meaning and we’ll just have to humor ourselves.

      Reply
  10. Classic, classic post. I LOVE ant farms, and so does my son. you have inspired me to get one for our half term here. Thanks, Tammy :-)

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  11. I still get a lot of hits on an old post via this word: paraclitoridiennes

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  12. I have no idea what words drive people to my blog door–maybe I should find out.

    But, as far as great ideas and their manifestation are concerned, I like to think about it as a kind of partnership between the Divine, or Creative Force and us entrepreneurial humans. Genius, be it in the form of a poem or song or meal or business plan, is always looking for Its distributor. We do seek out our affinities. And, we gotta show up, be open, and act!

    Reply
  13. I can’t figure out why one of my posts is so popular either. My son had an ant farm way back when and had very little luck with it.

    Reply
  14. Kath (My Funny Little Life)

     /  February 20, 2011

    It’s strange by which search terms people get to my blog! Пианино – what does tht mean?!

    Reply
  15. I forget so many of my “ideas” . . .even when I write them down. But I really hope some of yours take off like Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm. ( we had those too! . . .and one with tadpoles and one with caterpillars that morphed into butterflies. ha!)
    One of my search terms were drip deb. ! I stopped looking at those stats after that. ha!

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  16. I too admit to checking the stats if only for the daily chuckle of some of the off the wall ways people have found my blog. Makes me curious if I’ve caused someone to grin in my desperate searches for information.

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  17. Until recently, it seemed the No. 1 search that drove people to my blog was “plastic baseball helmets for ice cream,” because I mentioned it last summer. Lately, it’s “men’s hats.”

    I know exactly what you mean about failing to develop ideas. I mean, how many people have thought, “I’ll bet kids would love to wear rubber bands shaped like animals on their wrists.”

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  18. I used to love seeing how people would find me. I also have to admit that I would google certain words and see if I would come up. Ok, too much free time on my hands.

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  19. I would enjoy an ant farm much more than I’m enjoying the 15th an invasion in my bathroom. Certainly, there are no shortage of entry points (and no shortage of crumbs to be had when they arrive), but still. I wish they’d stay outside (or in an ant farm, if I had one – but if I had one, would my 3-year-old shriek if he saw me kill one?)

    Reply
    • I am also plagued in the summer by the kitchen sugar ants. Arrgh. I read that Levine paid up to $3000 a week for people to catch ants!

      Reply
  20. Sonya

     /  February 20, 2011

    The VandeKerkhof family is in love with all the recipes you post! Thank you! Elk Rapids, MI

    Reply
  21. It is sometimes funny how people find us…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    Reply
  22. Of all the search engine terms that are mentioned on my site, its meatloaf with sage and oregano. What makes this odd is that I only occasionally post a recipe and only for fun. I’m just a regular, everyday cook. This is disappointing in that I’d rather see searches on other subjects. There are other searches that show up, of course, but the food search comes up often.

    Ideas. Wow. The ant farm idea was incredible. I think the idea that goes further than the idea page would be the one that sparks enough enthusiasm to grab the thinker’s heart and push him forward. We must invest in an idea to turn it into an invention or a product. Therein lies the question. How much may I invest? Can I absorb a failure? Do I care enough to embark? I think some people are gifted with an entrepreneurial spirit.

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  23. Well, that’s probably the most random way I’ve heard someone finding a blog about food. :)

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  24. If you google swiss chard and mushroom quiche, my blog is the first to appear. I get at least four hits per week on that search term, even when swiss chard isn’t in season. The best part is that my family hated the quiche, they wouldn’t even eat it. I suppose it is my small contribution to the world of greens.

    I also keep a living idea document, I call it my hook book. I went over it last month and I had actually implemented or wrote about a number of those ideas. One of my goals for 2010 was to wake up my creativity and reviewing my book made me feel so creative and alive. As always Tammy, another great idea and approach to living a full life. Keep on writing.

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  25. Back in the 50′s (I’m dating myself) it was a very popular thing to give a child an ant farm. A lot of classrooms, including mine, had one as part of the “science” area. I have to admit that in the back of my mind I always felt a little sorry for them.
    As for the random idea, everyone has them. But it takes action and organization to make them come to fruition. That’s where most of us don’t follow through.

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  26. oh that is too funny about the ant farm!

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  27. I have not given it much thought……have not looked for myself to pop up somewhere………. but now I am curious. LOL. Yes, we have been through the whole ant farm thing. I think my children’s ant farm is packed away somewhere with Barney and Buzz Lightyear. Enjoyed your post. blessings,Kathleen

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  28. ideas are pretty fun things.
    fun to share and sometimes fun to do.

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  29. The stats are fascinating, aren’t they? I get a lot of hits from people searching for “french beer” “french pizza” and “french mac and cheese.” I kid you not.

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    • Hey French beer (I even remember your post!) and french mac and cheese? I am sure that my family will show up at your house AGAIN.

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  30. I noticed your blog today after I read gmomj’s post about mayonnaise (http://gmomj.wordpress.com/), so that’s how I ended up on your page! :)

    I’m fascinated with the site stats too. I’m relatively new to blogging so I’m still trying to figure out how to get more people to see my site and get more interest, but it seems like you’ve been really successful in getting a lot of interest! Congrats! :)

    The three search terms that pop up for me are swing dance, project made on shyness, and auction hand project. Since my blog’s all about confronting shyness basically, I’m surprised how the other terms have been part of my top search terms since they were mentioned once. It’s certainly interesting!

    Look forward to reading more of your blog, I’m now subscribed!

    Reply
  31. I had done a post about my experiences of getting from one small city to another in the south of India on one of my older blogs. I did the trip seven years ago and did the post about 4 years ago. It still brings me hits aplenty!

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  32. I get lots of people searching for ‘thrifty vegan’, which is not too surprising.

    When I was writing my thesis I found the ‘ideas’ folder essential for the days when I could come up with a million and one useful ideas – but none on topic for the work at hand. Once I ‘shelved’ them in the folder, I could settle and focus on the work I was actually supposed to be doing.

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    • oooh I’d be proud of thrifty vegan. And I think what you’ve experienced is the cleansing effect of emptying your mind. it’s a great feeling.

      Reply
  33. Well, I found you through mutual blog friends and interests. But it is really funny to see what leads to our blogs sometimes. My recent tally had “pink puke,” “I just made you say underwear,” and “Dirty words A to Z” as the top results. I think I’m doing it wrong.

    Reply
  34. My husband had a very proper and conservative woman friend who late in life became a surrogate parent to her step-son’s young children. She had on her dining room table an ant farm for them. I could not believe it.
    That was suddenly the detail that I remembered about her as we stood in the hospital lobby, remembering her as she lay dying.
    One of the children remained close to her. The one for whom she had the ant farm did not. I hope that one day he will realize that he should have been there too.
    Anybody who risks having an ant farm in their very proper house is just a good soul.

    Reply
  35. i actually searched for ‘ant farm blog’ in google images. so it’s the image that’s popping up, not necessarily the page. I followed the image here!

    Reply

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