Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Summer Friends

Hydrant Toad

When I step into the horse's stall, I keep my eye out for Jet's Toad. This not-so-little guy spent his summer in her stall, eating bugs. And, I've been tip-toeing around, being careful not to scoop him up with the manure.

Outside the stall, near the water spigot, is Hydrant Toad. She climbs out from her gravel nest when I'm emptying and refilling water buckets.

And, in the garden, there is Mr. Toad who sits under the cucumber vine.

Mr. Toad

I've come to appreciate the toads that spend the summer in flower beds, under trees, in the garden and in the barn, gobbling up insects. A single toad can eat 10,000 over the course of summer.

They aren't as graceful as the insect-eating swallows that soar and dive over the pastures and ponds. But they are much more amenable to having their photos taken.

 Like the swallows, they will disappear this fall. The swallows will be gone within the week when they start their annual trek south.

The toads, though, will stick around for another month or two. Then they will burrow underground and hibernate until spring, when the insects return again.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Venturing into the Garden

This is what my garden looks like after three weeks of high temperatures and humidity followed by one week of rain (4 inches), heat and even more humidity.

The weather broke this morning, and I ventured into the jungle.

There have been years when I've given up on the garden in mid-August. Instead of reaching for a hoe, I get out the mower.

But I was feeling optimistic this morning. A drop in temperature and humidity can do that.

I weeded the raised bed, and then sowed lettuce and pea seeds.

Then I moved onto harvesting. When picking cucumbers, I found Mr. Toad.

 He agreed to smile for the camera.

When picking tomatoes, I heard a demanding cluck. The hens know that when I'm in the garden, they get the split tomatoes, the overripe cantaloupe, the foot-long zucchini.

I tossed the hen a few split cherry tomatoes and watched her swallow it whole.

Soon, she had friends.The beggars were in luck. Heavy rainfall during tomato season usually causes the tomatoes to split. I had lots of split tomatoes.

I still have plenty of weeds in the garden, and the potatoes are ready for harvest. But that will come another day.