Taters And Toads

picture-3610It’s the time of year we begin digging our winter supply of potatoes and it’s also the time of year ( here in the North East) for amphibians to find a winter resting place. This toad was already hunkered down and cozying up to some spuds for his winter nap. Or he may have simply been trying out suitable sites. Our night time temperatures are dropping, though it’s plenty warm during the day and there are still plenty of insects for him to be munching. Best if he goes into winter with a good layer of fat, he’ll be relying on it for energy throughout the winter months.

Thank goodness we didn’t hit him with the digging fork! Amazing that they survive our Maine winters burrowed into the soil. Nature has the great ability to provide its natural world with all the right tools, doesn’t it?

While in dormancy, ice crystals will form in parts of a toad’s body cavity, as well as in its bladder and beneath its skin, but a high concentration of glucose in the frog’s vital organs will prevent it from completely freezing. Built in anti-freeze, you might call it! How cool is that! If you came across an amphibian in its winter state of dormancy, it may very well appear as being dead. Not so, but both its heart rate and breathing will most likely be nonexistent during its winter suspension. Once spring arrives, along with warmer temperatures, Mr. Toad will warm up and resume his normal activity.

I moved our toad friend to the other end of the garden and along the forest edge. I’ll let him decide where he hops off to so he can find a good wintering-over spot. In the meantime, we’ll be very careful to just harvest taters…not toads!picture-3614

A Few More Hauls

Picture 296Picture 307Today, while some may be out filling their bags with candy and goodies, we will be out gathering a bit more of that last late harvest. Last night we got our first real hard frost. We did cover everything, but it’s time….time to bring most of what’s left inside for winter storage. The pile of peppers were collected from the hoop house and larger cold frames. The beets have been growing in the main garden and doing well to tolerate light frosts, now they’ll come in. The winter squash that has been curing in the greenhouse will be put into wooden boxes and stored upstairs in our coolest room ( actually about 50 degrees and dry, which squash prefer). I think our final squash count was around 100. A collection of butternut, buttercup, delicata, and some smaller blue hubbard. Last to come in will be the cabbage, the kale and chard, and some last rows of spinach. On Monday, the larger flock of sheep will come home to their winter quarters. Having things ( animals and vegetables) tucked in and close to the homestead during the winter months make tending to chores much easier. After all the work today……a trick or treat candy bar would be nice!