Harmonious Homestead
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Frog In The Swond - Attracting Wildlife With Water

We're coming upon our third growing season at the Harmonious Homestead property. As I think about the year ahead, it occurs to be that I've never shared the most exciting goal we achieved last year. The frog in the swond. When we moved here, our property was like a park. We enjoyed big, beautiful trees and bemoaned the excessive lawn. We watched a few species of birds and wild animals, large and small.

Something was clearly missing. Amphibians. The presence of amphibians in any environment indicates clean water, active insect life, and lots of other good things. Despite our area being often wet, no neighbors could recall seeing any toads or frogs.

I made it my goal to attract a toad or frog to our place.

Needing a Pond

In July 2013, we experienced heavy rain and thorough flooding of the Swainway garden in the front of our property. The crops weren't totally lost but they weren't healthy either.

During the winter of 2013-2014, several delivery trucks and cars got stuck in the same area. The cause? 3 parts bad driving and 1 part totally saturated ground.

We talked with Joseph, manager of the Swainway gardens at our place, and decided we needed a seasonal catchment basin for the excess water.

Building A Swond

Under Joseph's direction, we rented a machine. He dug for several days until we had a five foot deep meandering hole in the front yard. He invented the the term 'swond' to describe the depression that would hopefully hold and move water seasonally like a cross between a swale and a pond.

It filled with rain and emptied with evaporation for the rest of the summer. We planted wildflowers, cattails, and ornamental willows around the edges. Lil thought a troll might decide to live in the swond, so we wrote a warning sign.

freshly dug pond

Water skimmers showed up. Bees sipped at the shoreline. Lil discovered a praying mantis on cattails.

image

One day, Alex came in and said there was a frog. "It jumped," he said. I headed out and I saw....no frog.

Two more times Alex spied the frog before I finally caught a glimpse. A green frog in my swond!

When moving compost to the garlic beds in October, we found a brown toad. Two amphibians near the swond!

image I imagine toad and frog are buried underground now. I hope they survived the winter and will call friends to the swond soon so Harmonious Homestead will never be without amphibians again.

Alex has other goals. He says he'll know we're successful in restoring the area's wildlife when a great blue heron stops by to snack on a frog. A pair of mallard ducks checked out the pond recently, so maybe we're close to that goal too.