The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


water lilyI’ve noticed the movement. A tiny flicker, just enough to intrigue. The numbers have been growing over the past few days. Initially just the odd one or two. Now the grass is full of them. So are the borders and even the driveway. They’ve even hopped into the kitchen. Slim baby frogs searching for rooms to rent.

Only the pond is still.

“That heron has altered the eco system in the garden. He ate the fish that ate tadpoles. The lawn is heaving with baby frogs. We must be treading on them each time we go down the garden.”
Danny sat down and examined the sole of his Wellington boot carefully.

We have two ponds, a large 28 foot one and a small 6 foot round pond that is largely inhabited by newts. The first autumn frosts of 2007 brought the heron. Usually we ignore his visits as our fish population was huge. No heron could eat that amount of fish.

What we didn’t realise was that our pond had become his local bistro. Sometimes I’d see him lifting off the pond when I opened the back door. A marvellous bird with an immense wingspan and thrust. Over the winter he must have visited regularly as one day we realised that he had eaten every single fish.

The annual spring frog fest was huge this year, attracting hundreds of frogs in the mood for love. The nightly croaking was deafening. Then they gradually packed their bags and moved on. All that was left behind were our permanent residents and the next generation of frogs, neatly laid in large deposits of frog spawn.

“Let’s let the tadpoles hatch and hopefully the toads will spawn too. The newt population could do with a bit of a boost. Then we’ll place a net over the pond and restock.”

With neither fish nor late frosts the big pond became a hotbed, nurturing countless tadpoles. A frog baby boom. The toads and newts feasted but hardly dented the maternity wing.
“What happens if they all make it?” Danny pondered as he watched them ripple under the duck weed.

Apparently there is a down turn in the frog population in the UK. Rest assured, this cottage has contributed to a massive increase in numbers in the local area.

I’m just wondering how they’ll all fit in the pond when they return to spawn next spring.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Pamela

    That’s a shame as newts are such quiet gentle creatures. John Coe is phobic about frogs, I’m wondering what with happen when our tribe matures…

    Hi Kay

    Bad luck that your frog spawn was caught by the frosts. If this happens to us the resident frogs usually come to the rescue and more spawn appears.

    Hi Pat

    The baby frogs are so cute. My mum raised frogs in a washing up bowl pond in her garden, so it can be done without a big pond.

  2. This has been a good year for frogs I think. We had at least two hopping around our garden here. I would love to have some baby frogs.

  3. We have the opposite situation. Our frogspawn all got killed by late frosts, so we’ve got happy frisky fish and virtually no frogs this year, certainly no froglets. It’s a bit sad: usually at this time I have the pleasure of watching the mini-frogs falling off lily pads and they learn how to leap.

  4. Pamela

    There is a corner of my mum’s garden which remains largely untouched. It is quite damp and shady and my sister tells me the reason for this stateof affairs is that it contains newts which a way too lizard-like for my mum who is unbelievably phobic about lizards. My nephew has worked very hard at desensitising her but to no avail.

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