Alive and Hopping

One morning a couple of months ago, I was racing around with the electric buggy trying to get the property ready for mowing. Storms were predicted that afternoon and there were good chances for rain over the next few days and I had already let the lawn get too long. After driving around both sides of the perimeter fencing to pick up trash, I dashed down to the canyon below the slope to pick up branches near the wildlife tub and feeders, so that I could easily mow that area too. Mowing day was a kind of game for me. I was always looking to find new paths to save time mowing, and I often tried to beat my time on the mower from the last mowing. Today, I would be racing against possible storms so, as I drove back up from the canyon and neared the driveway where I would park the buggy in the shade, I let off on the accelerator to let the buggy slow down on its own where I could swing my left leg over the side and jump out as soon as the buggy rolled to a stop. But as I made my move to exit the buggy, I saw in horror what was about to happen… and it was too late stop the buggy. What I saw was a toad nestled down in the crushed rock. As the tire rolled over it, I felt my stomach churn.

Immediately, I grabbed a nitrile glove from the glove box, and went to the toad. It was completely camouflaged in the rock and seemed to be fine – I could see no blood and the toad seemed alert. But when I gently picked it up and turned it over, sure enough, there was a bleeding, ragged gash on the belly near the hind legs. On closer inspection, it appeared to be a deep cut and a fleshy, fibrous tissue was gaping from the wound.  I apologized over and over to the toad, and felt helpless to do anything. Mulling over my options, I knew that it was bleeding enough that making a trip to Wildcare might be in vain, but maybe I could keep an eye on it overnight and see how things looked in the morning. I set the toad in the shade on the driveway near the house and dashed off to the metal building for a plastic tub. When I returned, the toad was gone. I followed a short blood trail into the front flowerbeds. After looking a bit and not locating it, I realized there was little I could do at this point, and I had to get on with the mowing anyway.

The next couple of days I looked for the toad, but of course it was an impossible task. I hoped the smell of its blood hadn’t attracted a varmint or snake to have a meal of it. Hopefully, I thought, it would survive somehow, or at the very least, maybe it had died quickly.

 

Then yesterday when I had the dogs out to do their morning business, I saw a black dirt clump in the grass. How odd, I thought. Why would there be mud there? But then, walking up to it, I saw it was a toad. It looked about the same size as the one I had run over earlier this summer. On the outside chance this might be that same toad, I ran inside for a glove and my iPhone, but returned only to find the toad had disappeared! Fortunately, I didn’t have to look far, as my friend had jumped nearer the flower beds where his dark color blended in with the wet dirt. I managed to capture him and, when I turned him over, I was thrilled to see it was indeed the toad I had injured this summer! There was a scar and a reddish tone to the skin in the immediate area of the wound I had inflicted on it so long ago, but it had healed nicely. I also noticed his hind feet appeared to have been hurt in the accident too, as there were blackish spots on his toes. By this point, the toad was tiring of my inspection and becoming quite uncooperative, so I decided not to bother him any more than I already had. As I set him back in the grass, I noticed he had already changed color. Adapting and transforming, as toads are well-known for, he was going about the life he was destined to live. Once again, I was reminded of the resilience of nature, despite the recklessness of humans.

© 2018 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

 

 


27 thoughts on “Alive and Hopping

    1. I know, I try to keep a lookout for toads, frogs, snakes and turtles. Turtles are bad to be along the fence lines. I have never hurt one but it sure takes a lot of extra effort to watch for something that is hidden or laying low!

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      1. It’s a matter of scale. I remember reading that religious people in India were careful when they walked so as not to step on an ant. But there are even smaller creatures that we can’t see and that we inevitably step on and kill. I’ll grant you that we relate in a different way to larger animals.

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        1. Yes we do tend to think only of a larger species. I do try to watch where I step too, but it’s really impossible to avoid every little living thing. I used to be much worse about grieving situations like this. I suppose I’ve become hardened in some manner, and have witnessed so much death in nature and the wild that it’s not as traumatic as it once was.

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  1. I just lost my comment. Geesh! Anyhow, that little toad is a survivor and I am glad you found it again. I don’t see how you could have avoided not running over the toad since they blend in with the habitat. As you know that is often how wildlife survives by being hard to see. I think the toads are great little catchers of various insects and I too like seeing them in my yard. Your toad is a great example of the resiliency and adaptability of all wild creatures. Loved this post.

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    1. How strange! I wrote a reply to your comment and it just disappeared when I clicked “post comment”. There’s something weird going on with WordPress!

      I love toads, and am careful as I can be to watch out for them. Especially in spring when I’m digging a good bit in the flower beds, I try not to get too aggressive with gardening and planting early on. I’ve chopped into a few in the past, which is upsetting. They are great insect controllers. We are very much toad-friendly here!

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    1. I always wonder if we appear as giants to smaller beings in nature? I always worry that picking things up or even approaching might cause undo stress. But I did have to know if that was the injured toad! I’m so happy it healed well.

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  2. Excellent! So glad he made it. I had a near-miss yesterday when a squirrel ran toward my car as I was going far too fast to react. I gasped and held my breath for the “thunk” — but it never came. He must have turned back at the last second or somehow made it under without getting crushed. That squirrel should probably buy a lottery ticket now. 😉

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    1. We have so many squirrels in town, and sadly I often see them crushed on the streets. And of course now is the whitetail deer rut and the deer are running wild. I noticed a couple of dead deer laying off the highway as I headed out of town the other day. I try to slow down in the rural areas. I’m not sure it helps much but it does allow for a bit better reaction time.

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  3. You have just given me hope for all the little critters that hop by in the last second when I have mowed and for the leopard frog I found in the goose pond. He was missing the lower part of his back leg. (Sometimes my lovely geese are nasty and mean! 😦 )

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  4. Ground-nesting birds are an issue around here, too. A kildeer nest is almost impossible to spot unless a parent sets up a fuss. Even then, when county mowers (or others who use big equipement) are involved, there’s not much that can be done. Timing helps, though. Some of the local hayfields that are mowed only twice a year are able to pretty much avoid the nesting season.

    The ability of creatures to heal and adapt is wonderful. The number of one-eyed seagulls, three-legged dogs, and tail-less lizards around here is remarkable. I’m glad your toad was able to join the ranks of the injured-but-alive!

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    1. I couldn’t agree more, Linda! Over the years here, we have learned about the cycles of nature, especially baby season in spring, summer and fall – avoiding work in order to keep from disrupting nesting and the first weeks of life. Even then, as you say, some work with big equipment cannot be avoided. I still think of the farmer and his friend, who realized they hit something in the wheat field they were harvesting and went back to look. There was Ronnie the fawn – cut up and injured. Had it not been that those two fellas looked for him and rescued him we wouldn’t be seeing that beautiful buck today.

      Nature just amazes me with the ability to adapt and heal. It manages healing in every environment… while we humans think we need to have a sterile and germ-free environment.

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      1. One of these days I’ll post a photo of a new statue that’s been added at the Brazoria refuge. It shows some kids walking across a fallen log — and not a single one of them is wearing knee pads, a helmet, or carrying a bag of antiseptic wipes. There’s hope!

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