Sunday, October 3, 2010


Mother Nature sends her autumn greetings to all her readers. After a rough winter, hectic spring, and wet summer, I am able to relax a little this fall. As you know, Mother Nature merely reacts to what humans are doing to me, but for a while, I will take it easy. When the days and nights are almost equal in length, my world is somewhat in balance.

This month I was thinking about frogs and toads. The train guys now have two ephemeral ponds (thank you train guys). The original is at Lake Woebegon and the new one is in the drainage way from the grape fields. Ephemeral ponds are really great for frogs. Lots of water in the spring for the tadpoles to develop in, then slow dry out so as they become frogs, they leave the area. The big snapping turtle comes to visit each year and he has plenty of food in and around the pond. Plus some sun and shade and a pretty safe place for him to hide from his predators.

This year, with all the water, the ponds did not dry out. Even now, in October, there is water standing in Lake Woebegon. So, Mother Nature produced a record number of frogs this year. They are everywhere. When the train guys walk in the tall grasses or run the tractor, there are always lots of frogs jumping. When they move dirt, there are usually a few toads in each bucket load. The train guys are very nice to take the time to grab the toads and frogs and throw them in deeper grass or water so they do not get hurt during railroad operations. (Mother Nature thanks you for protecting my small creatures).

One picture is of a northern leopard frog. They are very common in Iowa and there must be hundreds this year at the train farm. They seem to be pretty annoyed when the train guys are working where they are living. The seldom move until the train guy is just about stepping on them; then they glare at the guys as if they are saying, "Get out of my area."

The butterfly picture is also interesting. Mother Nature put out a record number of butterflies this year, which made the frogs and butterfly predators very happy with an abundant food supply. This butterfly has had a run in with a predator. Notice that about 1/2 of the left wing is gone and a good chunk of the right wing is also gone. When the train guy found him on a Sunday, he assumed the butterfly would be finished off in a day or so. When the train guy returned the following Saturday, the injured butterfly was in the same spot! He was doing what butterflies do in cool weather, just slowly moving his wings to absorb some sun. Amazing that he lasted six days in the gravel without someone finding him.

So, life goes on. The butterfly will be a meal for maybe a frog. The frogs are big and will make great meals for the hawks and other predators that need them to survive. The frogs have done their duty eating lots of mosquitoes and other insects this summer, and now they become another part of the food chain. Of course, a few will survive to breed again next summer and the cycle will be repeated.

I have not decided how much rain to send next year, but I think there will be plenty again. After all, Mother Nature is a bit annoyed by the actions of humans putting so much junk in the air and warming it up. All I do is react to what is happening and I will probably continue to drop a lot of rain in each storm. When will you learn?

Have a nice October and enjoy the warm sunny days and cool nights.

Talk to you later,
Mother Nature