If you build it, the toads will come.

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If you build it, the toads will come.

A story of the Mittelkamp pond.

Twenty years ago in the height of the pond craze, I caved and had one installed. The thought of how it would impact my local ecosystem was not my main reason for wanting a pond. I was really just interested in creating a relaxing environment where I could listen to the sound of running water. My family spent many hours on our back deck enjoying the noise that it created and just last summer a neighbor stopped me on a nightly walk to tell me how much they enjoyed listening to the sound of our pond’s waterfall. For fifteen of those twenty years, I enjoyed watching koi swimming around. We also enjoyed watching the wildlife increase around our yard. We saw a multitude of different bird varieties bathing and drinking from the pond. Mammals such as squirrels, skunks, possums and raccoons were also seen visiting the pond. Then in 2012, fourteen years after our pond had been installed, something changed. Our koi were all gone. It might have been the large Blue Heron we saw standing on the edge of the pond or it might have been the new feral cat that was roaming the neighborhood. But, something had taken our koi. Even though I had a ledge they could hide under, we opted not to reintroduce fish. We did minimal maintenance on the pond that year, even forgoing cleaning the fall leaves and the following year, we noticed we had more toads in our pond during breeding season. Knowing that toads are carnivorous and eat grubs, slugs and other small insects (up to 10,000 a summer), I was thrilled. My hosta, a slug favorite, were thrilled. My hibiscus, a japanese beetle (grub adult) favorite, were thrilled. I pictured my yard had turned into a scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and even considered purchasing a St. Francis statuary to commemorate the event. The yard was healthy, we had toads. A few nights later we noticed a low croaking sound coming from the pond. It was strange that it was so loud considering we had the windows closed. As I opened my front door to check out the situation, a toad awaited me. Obviously he was confused about the location of the party.Walking down to my pond, I noticed my yard had transformed from a quaint scene from a Disney movie into a plaque happening horror film. Hundreds of toads were heading to the pond. They jumped as I walked. That evening with a flash light, 30 toads were counted in various positions already around the pond. It had turned into the neighborhood toad breeding hangout. About a week later we noticed the strands of toad eggs strung across the pond. There were about 10 of those strands, each with hundreds if not thousands of eggs. I quickly did some internet searches on the best way to naturally reduce a toad population only to discover creating a barrier around the pond or getting a snake were the two most mentioned control measures. Hoping that the pond to toad ratio would eventually come to a balance, we opted to leave them alone. Last fall we noticed that our pump was having problems. Even though we have a net in front of the pump to catch debris, numerous times my dear husband would remove toad carcasses from around the pump intake. Just this past winter when the pump died, our pond guy questioned the quantity of toads we had in our skimmer box. Our hope that the pond to toad ratio would even out, has not happened. Since I do not want to kill the toads and would still like a few around the yard, a mass adoption is being proposed. If you have a water source nearby in a yard that has enough vegetation for them to hide, and you would like a toad, please contact me. Or if you need some help creating an environment for toads to thrive, please contact me.Or if you have a child or grandchild who would be a responsible pet owner, and you would like a toad, please contact me. Here is a cute video to help you set up a home for a pet toad. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Psm9o1bJ9E4 As they become available, a time for pick up will be arranged. Since there will be a strict adoption process, folks who intend to use the toads in a nefarious manner will be denied.

The last step is to set up an appointment to have one of Siebenthalers multi-talented pool of designers visit with you at your home to help you pull together all the elements you have chosen and create the Outdoor living space of your dreams!

Until next time, Janice

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