A garden is the best alternative therapy.

Although we have experienced record number of +100 degree weather this summer, I’ve managed to keep the chives and basil moist enough that the woodlice (roly-poly’s, doodlebugs) have multiplied like crazy. They’re probably loving all the fresh compost. While they have created some problems – chewing up leaves touching the ground – they are relatively harmless. There are so many of them, though, that a predator has moved in, seemingly permanently, to take advantage of such a bountiful harvest. Meet Mr. Toad:
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6.27: Mr. Toad moves in.

6.27: Mr. Toad moves in.

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I discovered Mr. Toad in the herb garden one evening, busily lapping up the roly-polys. He made short work of anything that dared to wiggle, watching the dirt intensely with a hungry, non-blinking stare. I used to play with toads when I was a kid, so this one didn’t escape my attention. I brought him inside to show Michelle and Erin, who thought he was a mammoth of a toad!

Since then, Mr. Toad has been seen on most nights, sitting in the herb garden or jumping across the lawn to scope out the neighbor’s garden. Just a quick jump and scramble and he’s through the fence. Most of the time, Mr. Toad is found in the daytime at the very back of the herb garden, behind the left chives plant, buried in the cool, moist dirt. He always gets excited when I water – he knows it’s time to grub!  I pick him up every once in awhile, and he’s become a plumper.

On occasion, I find another toad, which lives in the compost pile. I have an open-slatted design for my compost bin, so it is very easy for him to crawl in and find a nice spot to take some shade and enjoy the all-you-can-eat buffet. The left side of the bin is full of compost layers, while the right is filled with decomposing leaves, twigs, sod and – you guessed it – thousands of bugs. I almost stabbed the toad the first time as I started turning the right pile with my one-handed garden fork. Luckily, he jumped up and out of the way before he found himself gigged.
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Constructed of 2"x4"'s, this compost bin design  provides aeration without turning.

Constructed of 2"x4"'s, this compost bin design provides aeration without turning.

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I’m happy to see the toads getting nice and plump, even despite the records drought we are experiencing. Makes me feel good that we can give just a little bit back to mother nature. If only for the woodlice and toads …

Last night, I came outside to cover the herb garden as a thunderstorm rolled in. I opened the patio door and saw Mr. Toad climb up the side of the concrete slab, hop across the patio, jump up and grapple the bricks between him and the herb garden, pause and peer into the dark garden, then hop down on to the chives. Soft landing. That’s when I noticed that Mr. Toad had company. It seems that Mr. Toad’s older cousin was busy making himself at home in Mr. Toad’s bed.
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Mr. Toad comes home.

Mr. Toad comes home.

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When a stranger calls ...

When a stranger calls ...

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I didn’t stick around to see how they worked it out, but I swear Mr. Toad’s bigger cousin is the same toad that lives in the compost. You make the call. Here’s “the fatty from the compost heap”:
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Profile.  He's not amused.

Profile. He's not amused.

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Mug shot.   Add this one to the Cold Toad Case Files.
Mug shot. Add this one to the Cold Toad Case Files.

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