Saturday, April 23, 2011

Toad Talk on Earth Day

It was pouring the rain when we drove home Friday evening and the Kritter Keeper tradition during rainy  nights is to harp on the good husband to slow down while driving down the lane.  For a half a mile, the patient man tries his best to heed the firm warnings, hearing over and over...  "Oh there is one! Watch the puddle! Slow down, what's your rush?" etc.   We always see numerous dead toads and frogs on the dark highway, at least we can avoid killing these poor little creatures on our own land, right?
Several years ago before the house was finished, I was blessed to see and hear the one and only Toadfest held on the farm.    The frogs were singing in the middle of an April sunny day which I thought was highly unusual!  I remember that Mom and Dad were visiting.  I took my camera and was astonished at what I saw....a city of toads!  Some were in the water, some were sunbathing, and MOST were, well, I think you get the drift after seeing my pics.  Little ones on big ones, some with blue bubbles blowing from their necks ( I am sure there is a technical term for that body part, but what the heck....) and couples chatting it up while others sang joyfully.  Dad said they were oblivious to my presence as they were in such a breeding frenzy.  After the bad husband widened the pond and cleared the edges, there was never a Toadfest celebrated again and anytime I get near the water's edge, one can hear the "plop plop" of frightened frogs or toads escaping the tall two legged monster.

I was shocked to see Toad love again in early April of this year when Red showed herself one very late evening. She and a friend decided that underneath the bright light near the end doors would be the perfect place and did not mind my intrusions.  For over a year now she has taken residence in and around barn and wintered between the hay stacks and outside wall.  One warm January day she ventured out but was very slow to move around and react so I found a dead bug for her to munch on, put them both bug back in her winter resting place and tucked her in with lots of hay.  I know, I know....some would think I am crazy, but my name is not Kritter Keeper for nothing! :-)
The rain held steady as I walked down to the barn to feed.  A large toad waited and watched near the garden wall close to the steps while another was in the middle of the driveway...huh? Didn't we just drive up only seconds ago?  I bent over to be sure it wasn't injured and this is what I saw.

My heart sank, my mind exploded with questions as I studied this poor mother toad watching her dead baby that only minutes ago was learning how to wait for a tasty bug.   The bad husband ran over the baby of course unbeknownst to him but it still left me with a deep sadness.  I have never seen this before.  The mother refused to move and I reached out to pet her and she did nothing.  Toads always move a little if you pet them, an eye might move, the body will adjust to the strange feeling, etc. Nothing...she did nothing.  I quickly left hoping she would be okay after I returned from the night feeding.  She was still there after 20 minutes or so.  I touched the baby to see if it was still living but how could it, with the entrails completely displayed?  The little tiny hand beside its mother's was so heart wrenching!  I picked them up and put them both in the wet grass out of harm's way.  She didn't need to deal with curious dogs and probably wouldn't move out of the way had a large paw accidentally find her brown body.

A toad may be small and insignificant to some but on Earth Day and every day for me, all creatures great and small are equally important.  I found this poem and thought it would be an excellent read to celebrate Earth Day.

Song of All Mother...
I am the Mother Earth and you are a child to me.
Discover who you are and seek divinity
Rocks and stones, clay and peat - all strats are a part of me.
Jewels and crystals, gems and gold are hidden in the heart of me.
Herbs and flowers, trees and shrubs, these are growing green on me.
Mosses, fungi, lichens, vines, all of these are seen on me.
Horses, cattle, pigs and deer, bears and lions roam on me.
Snakes and spiders, rats and slugs, all creatures have their home on me.
Bubbling brooks and silent springs, living rivers flow on me.
Pools and puddles, lakes and seas, salty oceans grow on me.
Tiny tiddlers, mighty whales, sacred salmon leap for me.
Sharks and squid and crabs and krill fill the waters deep for me.
Wrens and larks and crows and terns fill my skies with darting flight.
Hawks and eagles, bats and owls catch their prey by day and night.
Creeping worms and flying fox, teeming ants fulfill theirs lives,
In tune with me, in Nature's Way, as honey bees enrich my hives.
Only humans rob their kin, despoil the land, pollute the seas,
Kill for fun, destroy the woods, float poisoned vapors on the breeze.
I shall live for I can heal, even if you humans die,
But you can learn, as children should, to grow in peace
Beneath the sky....

Marion Green


Lori Skoog said...

I've never seen so many toads! And that poem has me in beautiful.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

Beautiful verse at the end of your post.

We are cut from the same cloth! I try to not run over the toads and tell my husband to be careful. We have toads that come up on our porch at night and knowing where they were hibernating this winter, we made sure it stayed protected and undisturbed. I've not seen them yet this year, but I have a feeling they're not far away.

lisa said...

Nice post, not toads but I love it when the frogs start coming into the pond in the spring when I get it up and going!

Buttons said...

Oh I love the poem. I loved your story.
My husband and I rescue all the tadpoles every time the water goes down in our pond. We scoop them up and take them back to our swamp we have been doing this for years. I do not know why they stay in the most shallow pond but we keep moving them none the less. The Heron's will eat them when the pond gets to low, if we don't. We have lots of frogs in our swamp now I love the singing it is beautiful. Good job Kritter. B

Nancy said...

I got to experience the "toad symphony" earlier this month for several days -- and our pond is about a half mile away.

Country Gal said...

AWESOME photos ! We have forests swampa and a river surounding our vally village and we hear the frogs sing all the time, here we call them peepers better known as tree frogs they can get soo loud but its a beautiful sound then later in the summer you get the crickets joining in nothing better then falling asleep to them all we love it ! Have a wonderful Easter.

Linda said...

Thank you for that story and for taking the time to care for her. There's a line I hear that has always stuck with me--"A flower has a soul in every leaf." I believe it, and I think we're better people when we understand that truth and are tender with every living thing. What you did, I think, was a great show of respect for life. Thank you.

The Barn Door said...

Well I'm not fond of toads but I will say, those are some cute pictures!!
Have a happy toad day!

Anonymous said...

We have had one toad here since 1962. It was greeted with all of the enthusiasm I could muster and had reserved for the first Bald Eagle. When the parade was over I never saw it again.

Burlap Luxe said...

Wow the wild toad ride over here at your place, and what a poem...soulful.

Thank you for visiting my place and comeing over from Tracies place where she featured my sign she purchased from me. She waited 5 months to receive due to the lack of the wood salvage tear down I use. I have one in my etsy while it last, and some Shelter signs with the birds, all hand painted and every bird will look the same but a touch different :0

I can see that you are a bird lover of nature as well :)
I am going to be excited to get to know you!
Have a Glorious Easter.

Terry said...

I dropped in to wish you and all yours a very happy Easter weekend and much to my delight your post moved me to tears with your special love for all Kritters large or small.
I am sorry for the poor Mother Toad and yes Toads are important too !
Thank you for sharing your amazing photos and story with us .
The poem was truly wonderful .
Wishing you many happy Kritter Keeping days.
Hugs from Texas
Until next time
Happy Trails

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Love the verse but a Triple X blog............ :).

Prairie Farmstead Ponderings said...

Oh, Kritter. How heartbreaking about the baby toad. We are blessed with many toads around the Prairie Farmstead. I love them in the gardens.

You know, your post has reminded me that I did hear a toadfest going one (rare!) sunny day this past week. I am saddened to realize I neglected to take the time to really enjoy it. Shame on me.

Wishing you and your family a very blessed Easter.

Naturegirl said...

What a beautiful Love story on Earth Day! Love in the pond and then the tenderness of mother toad grieving her young one. We are all one and your poem tells it all!
and the connection you with Nature and that's why I love your blog!

♥I am Holly♥ said...

What a beautiful post! I love the poem so much and really love the toads and the story. Perfect for Earth Day!! Lots of love, Debbie

My Spotty Pony said...

That was a lovely story and you wrote it so well too. The toads in my garden are made very welcome as they like to feed on the slugs which munch big holes in the leaves of my hosta's!

Dog Trot Farm said...

What a lovely poem, I have been listening to the spring "peepers". Sending Easter Greetings from all of us here at Dog Trot Farm. Can you believe it is snowing here? I hope the Easter Bunny owns a pair of snow shoes! LOL Julie.

Teresa said...

So touching. Anyone who would think animals don't feel should read this. You are a great person to help out toads. Lovely poem.

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful post and photos. It is cool seeing all those frogs. I slow down too when I see a frog or turtle crossing the road. What a lovely poem to go with your post, I relaly enjoyed it thank you for sharing.

Jen said...

I love our little ribbiters we have hopping and popping around here (are you kidding? They eat bugs :o) Great photos and a lovely poem.

Jennifer said...

Nice Post... I love hearin the songs of toads & frogs every spring! Sad about the baby toad :(

Once Upon an Equine said...

I feel sad for that poor mama toad.

I'm always surprised when I find toads around my barn in the summertime, especially since the nearest pond is quite a hopping distance away. I like seeing them around and do worry about someone stepping on them. They always seem to be right outside the barn doors when I'm done feeding the horses in the evening. So I have to stop and look before I step through the doorway or before I close the big sliding barn door.

Beautiful poem.

Edward said...

I think those blue bubbles blowing from their necks are called vocal sacks the males have them, oh and great poem it was very nice, I hope you had a happy Easter.

Kritter Keeper at Farm Tails said...

edward! thank you so much for that tidbit of info! i love to learn about 'stuff' like that...:)

Michelle said...

Oh! This post made me so sad. When we moved to Florida, we had a similar experience with the toads. It's amazing how many there are, and how loud they can be! But it's devastating to go down your driveway, littered with thousands of them, knowing that you hit some of them. Impossible not to.

Stacey@Real Southern Living said...

Thanks for you sweet comments! Love the frogs! I personally have a container full of Tadpools on my kitchen counter thanks to my children! Have a wonderful week!

Phyllis said...

I've never seen a toad fest - what a descriptions.

Poor little toadie. I always feel bad when I see them dead on the road. I think all creatures feel; we humans just refuse to believe it.

Maura @ Lilac Lane Cottage said...

Now look what you've've made me tear up! Over a toad! No...I love our toads here on the farm...the more the merrier as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure they wish we'd get some real rain though...poor things. It's been so cool here lately that there's not even many bugs out for them. I'm glad your toads are coming back this spring and I hope you get some good warm sunny weather soon.
Maura :)

Willard said...

This post brings back a lot of memories. Our farm is located right at the edge of a wetlands and it was always thrilling to hear the trilling of the toads on a warm spring evening. The first thing we heard were the wood frogs and the spring peepers, but the toads always put on a show during their mating season. Not sure if the toads are still there like that or not as two of the springs they liked to hang out in are no longer the ideal habitat they once were. I will have to check this out.