A steady, light rain softens the recently, hard frozen soil. Soon, male Wood Frogs (Rana sylvatica) will be quacking their mating songs, full of high hopes for bringing forth a new generation. This welcomed singing always occurs on rainy nights in February: tonight may be the night!
If so, we will hear it, and together Chiwa and I will rendezvous on our front porch, wrap arms around each other, smile, and be delighted. This, we’ll say, marks the passage of another revolution of our beloved gem of a celestial body; Mother Earth, around the sun…
We first inoculated our small, permaculture class -built, pond with local tadpoles, around 20 years ago. We re-inoculate via tadpoles, as we are able; always in the spring, and are choosy to exclude Bull-frog and Green Frog, since these two large species lay in wait, and consume the much smaller Wood and Cope’s Gray Tree Frogs (Hyla crysoselis), as well as the tiny “toadlets” of American Toad (Anaxyrus* americanus americanus).
*(previously known as Rana)
(No wonder frogs are on my mind)! We are house-sitting a Greenhouse frog (a Cuban species that has naturalized in Florida) while our friends are spending a month in Ecuador.
After an unusual Autumn, with colder, then warmer than usual temperatures, winter finally arrived with much colder, prolonged low temperature weather (conditions we -at Barefoot Permaculture -have not experienced in our 27 years in place).
As winter softens into early spring, it will be interesting to find out which plants survived and which may not recover. Already, our 5 year old Dunstan Grapefruit looks strongly stricken (no unscathed leaves).
Early last fall, a collared (for tracking) mama Black Bear, with three full grown (2 year) cubs, appeared, and decided our’s was a good area to frequent. Theirs’ was the first notable, large predator damage to our gardens and orchard!
The bears first discovered one of our Asian persimmons (Eureka). Fortunately for us, the fruit, being not fully ripe, left an astringent taste in the mouth. Our first notification of the Bears’ intent, was 7 persimmons, with chomps taken out, scattered around the base of the shrub-tree.
We knew, from past year’s experience, that Persimmons (especially Asian) will ripen off the tree. We immediately picked the 30 (or so) remaining fruit, as well as our Nikita’s Gift (a Russian cross between our native Diasporus virginiana and an Asian persimmon).
American persimmons taste deep, rich, and complex. Asian persimmons are all nicely delicious. Nikita’s Gift persimmons are Luscious!
With the bear’s warning of intent to eat, we were able to save most of the Eureka and all the Nikita’s Gift persimmons (22 or so).
All ripened very nicely inside!
Our heavily fruited bronze Muscadine was not so fortunate: the bears took all the fruit, as well as breaking the upper horizontal trellis.
We picked the few apples left, and that cleaned out our orchard for the season. The bears then polished their palate on a previously beautiful clumping of Parsley (pulling them up with their roots, and just chomping a bite or two). Then, they left for the season…
The wood frogs have indeed appeared, and have been singing up a storm – that now sits upon these southern Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. The heavy rain pulses on and off. The temperature has softened to moderate, so no need for our wood stove.
We’ve had our coffee, and all feels well…