Category Archives: Frogs

Home Sweet (Froggy) Home

I learned something this week. I don’t think like a frog.

Regular readers will remember this recent post about the frog who was interfering with my watering routine by hanging out in my watering can. We thought we had solved the problem by giving it and alternative housing option. It was a pretty cool setup if you ask me.

The frog, however, didn’t ask me and apparently didn’t share my opinion because it left its new home that evening and did not return. After a couple of days of keeping my watering can in the mud room, we started leaving it on the deck – up on the table. On Tuesday when I was refilling the watering can with the hose guess who hopped out. Yep! Somehow that frog had found its way back into the watering can even though the can was up on the table.

Well, its persistence paid off. When my husband got home the frog was hanging out on the garden hose and since my husband wanted to use the hose, he moved the frog back to the watering can.

I then placed the watering can in the flower bed. I think it’s garden art with a purpose.

Later that day, when my husband was going to the farm store, I asked him to pick up another watering can. He obliged. ūüôā

Our Watering Can(‘t)

Several days ago my husband discovered that the watering can that we leave on our deck, for watering our potted plants, was clogged up. No water would come out. As he removed the screw-on sprinkler head from the can to clear the blockage a small frog jumped out. The blockage was cleared.

This morning, as I began watering, the can was once again clogged up. Not wanting to be startled by a frog jumping out at me, I slowly removed the sprinkler head from the can. As I lifted the head off the can there was nothing there. I looked inside the sprinkler head and the holes were clear. I then glanced down at the watering can and spotted this little frog sticking its head out.

“Oh, it is you I said,” while the little critter just sat there apparently not wanting to be disturbed (again).

I picked the watering can thinking it might hop out but instead it backed down into the neck of the can refusing to be evicted.

While my husband and I have great respect for wildlife we were not about to turn this watering can into a frog condo. Good watering cans have become quite costly. So, when I called my husband to tell him of this dilemma, he began planning an alternative housing situation for froggy.

He cut a hole in the side of this ice cream bucket, then placed the rock inside. He found this piece of tree bark that the little guy could use as a ramp and then he put water in the bottom of the bucket.

Getting the frog out of the watering can proved to be a bit challenging, but after gently poking it out of the neck of the can with a stick, pouring all the water out of the can, and shaking it upside down quite a bit the frog finally dropped out of the can.

My husband the placed it in its new digs and put the lid on to provide shade. Froggy is still free to come and go through the hole (door) in the side.

I placed the new frog house in the flower bed amongst the potted plants where it will not get too much sun.

I think it would be a lovely place to live if I were a frog.

Additional Note: I refilled my watering can this evening and left it inside our mudroom so froggy can’t return to it.

That Stinks!

Let me start by explaining that the photos of this tree frog hanging out on our deck railing have noting to do with the title of this post or the story that will follow. They were just some cool pictures that I took that really didn’t have a story and since this story didn’t really have any photos to go with it I decided to pair the two.

Isn’t he cute?

On With the Story

It was shortly after 4:00 A.M. when I was awakened by the sound of my husband frantically calling “Ranger, Ranger No!”. I heard the screen door close and again my husband’s command, “Ranger No!”

“What’s going On?” I called from the comfort of my bed.

“Ranger just got sprayed by a skunk.”

UGH!

In the few minutes it took me to get up and ready to help, my husband had already gathered the baking soda and peroxide and was getting Ranger in the bathtub. I gave him a towel to dry off the pup when he finished and spread a blanket on the floor for Ranger to roll on after his bath.

The smell of skunk permeated the house and my next task was trying to get rid of it. If you have never smelled skunk spray before I will try to describe it. Putrid is the best word I can think of. It will make your eyes water, your nostrils burn, give you a headache and will make you nauseated.

You may have guessed that this is not our first go around with de-skunking dogs. In fact we have had multiple skunk encounters with both Scout and Trooper falling victim. In most of the other occurrences we were largely able to keep the smell out of the house by bathing the boys before they came inside. This time that was not an option. This skunk was on our deck and was not in a hurry to go anywhere.

In order to get the smell out of the house the first thing I did was open some windows and put fans in a couple so they were blowing out. This didn’t seem to have any effect. Fortunately I remembered what I used a couple of years ago when Trooper got sprayed that did seem to help remove the odor from the house. It was a container of diatomaceous earth. This particular container has cinnamon oil infused in it because it is sold as a flea powder but since diatomaceous earth is said to absorb odors I decided to give it a try. I did not want to sprinkle it on the carpet because vacuuming it up can clog the filter and burn up the motor in a vacuum cleaner (it is best to use a shop vac if you do use it on the carpet). Thankfully it was not necessary to put it on the carpet. I only had to set the open container in the area when the odor was present, in this case the living room, and the odor began to fade away. Since the mud room also smelled of skunk I took a disposable cup and poured some of the diatomaceous earth into it. I then covered it with a paper towel and put a rubber band around it to hold the paper towel in place. I wanted it covered just in case it got tipped over. I placed it on the shelf in the mud room and again the smell began to fade away. By the end of the day the house was pretty much odor free.

As for Ranger, the peroxide and baking soda bath reduced the smell to a tolerable level but the smell lingered on him. It was about two weeks later when we took him to get his nails trimmed. After doing his nails the groomer used cotton balls with hydrogen peroxide on them to clean Ranger’s ears and wipe his eye lids and the corner of his eyes, while his eyes were closed. She also took a Q-tip with peroxide on it and cleaned inside the edge of nostrils. These were details that we missed and this really seemed to help.

There are a couple of other things that we have learned through these dog-skunk encounters. One is even when the odor seems to be completely gone it continues to lie in wait only to return the next time the dogs coat gets wet, and the next time, and the next time… It may actually take up to a year before the smell can no longer be detected on the wet dog.

The other is that getting sprayed by a skunk does not teach the dog a lesson. The next time he encounters a skunk curiosity will get the best of him or his instinct will take over. He will approach the skunk and this scenario will be repeated and THAT STINKS!

Frogs on the Farm

“Frogs on the Farm” was originally written and published on March 30, 2017, a time when I had very few readers. I have decided to share it again today because for various reasons I haven’t got my usual “Spring is Springing” post ready. Be assured that spring is here: the birds have returned from their winter homes, the trees are beginning to bud, the daffodils, iris’s, lily’s and even the garlic are emerging from underground and the frogs are singing. More on that soon. ūüôā

Original Post published March 30, 2017

Last week on one of our sap cooking days, in addition to helping keep the fire going, I took on the secondary chore of raking the leaves out of the pond. As I came up with one rake full of leaves and shook them into the pile just beyond the beach, this frog hopped out of the leaves.

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I felt kind of guilty about awakening him or her, because I was yet to see or hear any frogs this spring. It did however spend a good deal of time sunning itself on the beach. It wasn’t until one of the chickens came running up behind it that it took¬†a three foot¬†leap back into the safety of the pond.

It was two days later that we heard the frogs for the first time this year. I remember my mom telling me, that her mom had told her, that after you hear frogs for the first time in the spring you will have three more freezes.¬†Although I’m always excited to hear the frogs in the spring, I haven’t really tested this theory.

Frogs and toads lived on our farm before we put in the pond. I remember the first spring there were tadpoles that had hatched in a puddle of water and my husband was dumping buckets of water in the puddle to keep it from drying up before the tadpoles reached their adolescent stage of life.

Our property does provide the perfect habitat for frogs and toads. The pond offers conditions needed for frogs to lay eggs, for the eggs to hatch into tadpoles and for the tadpoles to live until they grow legs and their lungs develop so they can leave the water. This can take over a year for bull frogs. Even mature frogs, who can live out of water, continue to need a wet area to keep their skin from drying out. Not only does our farm have the pond but we have wooded areas where the ground is covered with dead leaves that keep the ground moist even in the hot and dry summer conditions.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources article that I have linked below of the more than 3400 species of frogs/toads only 13 live in Michigan. I am certain we have at least 4 species that populate our farm.

Frogs and toads are wonderful for pest control. The aforementioned article relates that a single frog will consume thousands of insects per year. Last year we discovered that we were reaping the benefits of this.¬†As we picked¬†our bountiful harvest of strawberries ¬†https://donteatitsoap.com/2016/06/30/strawberries-at-last/¬†last June my husband and I spoke several times about the fact that we did not have any slugs eating the berries. This is a problem the we have had with strawberries we have grown at the house in the past. It wasn’t until my husband told me that he had been surprised by a frog hiding in the strawberry patch, while he was picking berries, that I realized that¬†this frog was probably enjoying a regular diet of slugs and any other pests that threatened¬†to consume our¬†strawberry crop. I am hopeful that a frog will take up residence in the strawberry patch again this year.

Frogs are a good indicator of the health of wetlands, ponds, lakes and such as they do not survive in polluted areas. The Michigan DNR article that I have linked below explains that chemical fertilizers and pesticides are a threat to frog populations; not only can the chemicals kills frogs and toads, but the pesticides also reduce their food supply.

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10370_12145_12201-35089–,00.html

The frogs on our farm are also entertaining. In the summer time when we walk around the edge of the pond the frogs jump into the pond one right after the next. It’s kind of funny because there may be 50-100 frogs sitting around the outer edge of the pond. The dogs like to chase the frogs but rarely are they able to catch them. Last year Scout spent hours in the evenings looking for frogs along the edge of the pond, he enjoyed the search immensely even though he never caught any. After dark¬†we are often treated to a campfire symphony, in surround sound I might add, as the several different species of frogs sing from different areas of the farm.

While not everyone has the luxury of being able to put a pond on their property I have included the following link for those who may be interested in creating a frog habitat. I would encourage you to read through the end of the article, as it does explain that the best way to introduce frogs to this habitat is to let them come to it naturally and this may take a year or more. It also explains that not all parts of the U.S. are favorable for creating frog habitats.

https://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/National-Wildlife/Gardening/Archives/2000/Want-to-Host-a-Garden-Party-for-Frogs.aspx

The Garlic Is Harvested

WHOO HOO!!! I am so happy to have the garlic out of the ground and hanging in the barn. Especially since we got it done last week before the extreme heat¬†arrived. This year’s harvest was much easier than the past several years¬†because we planted significantly less garlic last fall. It was a big chore none the less.

Since my husband is working a landscaping job right now my plan was to work on harvesting the garlic in the cooler¬†morning hours then work on bundling and hanging it later in the day because I wouldn’t have to be in the hot sun to do that part. I knew he would help as time allowed.

The harvest went even smoother than I planned. I started digging the garlic Tuesday morning and had the first 1 1/2 rows dug by about 11:00 a.m. I had planned on working until noon but it started to rain. Since I didn’t know how long the rain would last I decided to get the garlic that was out of the ground to a dry spot and then take a break. I¬†put¬†the garlic on a tarp under the barn overhang, where it would stay dry until I came back to put it in bundles. That evening my husband moved it inside the barn.

That early rain shower didn’t last long or amount to much, but that evening and over night we had some significant rain fall, enough rain that my husband was not needed at his job on Wednesday. By Wednesday morning all that rain had moved out of the area so we were able to get back into the field and finish the harvest.

We took the¬†Scout and Trooper¬†and a cooler full of cold water and drove to the garlic field. As my husband got out of the van he said something that got my attention. When I asked what he had said he replied, “It’s the biggest bull frog I’ve ever seen.”¬† I went to take a look and had to agree.

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Thankfully this guy did not get run over as we drove into the field. It appeared as if this was not his first close call. He had abrasions on both sides of his body that looked as if something had tried to make a meal out of him Рa large fish perhaps. To keep him safe (or at least from getting run over) my husband carried him to the pond where he quickly swam away.

My husband and I worked together digging garlic and found that the rain that fell¬†the night before had worked in our favor as many of the bulbs could just be pulled out of the ground. “The less I have to put my foot on a shovel, the better,” my husband said.

When my husband took a wagon load of garlic to the barn he returned telling me that a neighbor had come to visit. This particular neighbor loves company and has really taken to my husband. His name is Peanut.

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A while later when I went to the barn I was greeted by Peanut, and as I was returning to the garlic field he decided to follow me. This was a concern because Scout and Trooper, who were hanging out in the van, are not cat lovers. Nowadays Scout is not much of a threat because his vision is gone, his hearing is poor and his body is weak. His nose still works perfectly though. Trooper on the other hand is still a very¬†keen watch dog who will chase off anyone or anything he doesn’t think belongs on our farm. Normally when Trooper gives chase the invaders run off and Trooper is satisfied that he has done his job. Peanut was not going to run off.

My husband attempted to introduce Trooper to Peanut and Trooper was very curious about this intruder. As he attempted sniffing Peanut from head to tail Peanut got offended. He hissed and scratched Trooper on the nose. My husband picked up Peanut and took him back to the barn area while I got Trooper in the van¬†then headed back to the garlic field. This only lasted a few minutes before Peanut was back by the van. Scout who couldn’t see the cat got a good whiff of him then became anxious and wanted to go looking for him. Trooper got out of the van so my husband grabbed Peanut, jumped in the van and took him home. He also went by our house and got a wet soapy wash cloth and some ointment for Trooper’s scratch. While he was gone Trooper went around sniffing all of the areas that the cat had been. Looking but not finding him. He then went for a swim in the pond and settled down a bit. Just before my husband returned I walked into the barn only to see Peanut laying in front of the tractor. When my husband returned I suggested he take Scout and Trooper back to¬†our house so we could get our work done. He agreed.

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Within an hour of having that mess settled we had the rest of the garlic harvested and by the end of the day they were all hanging in the barn. The above photo shows the approximately 1000 bulbs we harvested on Wednesday with the tools we used.

I have to admit¬†this year’s crop is disappointing.¬†Between bitter cold temperatures over the winter and an extremely wet spring we lost approximately 25% of what was planted. Of the bulbs we did harvest the majority of them¬†are small. We have very few bulbs that will be large enough to use for seed garlic for next¬†years crop.

What does this means for our future in growing garlic – I am not sure. We will just keep moving forward the best we can. Perhaps garlic farming is not in our future.

Thanks for reading?