Farm Life: Vernal Ponds

P1040996The Appalachian mountains tend to have rivers, not lakes.  One of the few natural bodies of water in West Virginia is Trout Pond, a few miles from us.  It is a plugged sink hole all of a couple of acres in size.  Most of the other lakes in the state are dammed rivers for flood control or water reservoirs.  However, frogs, toads, and other amphibians need places to lay their eggs.  For this, spring rains fill up low areas that become vernal ponds.

DSCF7353Vernal ponds may last a few weeks or a month after the rains end.  If we have summer thunderstorms, these might rise and fall regularly in the humid heat.  The frogs and toad must act quickly while the water is available.  By the time the vernal pond is down to wet mud, the the tadpoles must be developed enough to grown on land.

DSCF7369We noticed a toad slip out between rocks in one of our rock walls in Spring.  Each evening for several weeks, he would stand on the edge or a vernal pond singing and croaking.  Then a striped frog took position on a mostly submerged rock.  The frogs whistle more than sing, creating an erie sci-fi sound concentrated around moist areas.

P1040861We are not certain who was more successful, but one morning, we found neither the toad nor frog, but instead found long strings of fertilized eggs floating around the rocks.  Within days, tadpoles were hatching and swimming around.  Soon the egg strands were gone, and the water teamed with pea sized tadpoles.

Now, we shall watch to see whether they become toads or frogs.  Nonetheless, if a P1040864few survive, our gardens will have a new regiment of bug eaters.  Oh, our vernal pond?  It happens to be the dogs’ kiddie pool for cooling off during the summer.  They do not like toads, but do not appear bothered by tadpoles.

About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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4 Responses to Farm Life: Vernal Ponds

  1. Mother Suzanna says:

    What a “punch line”! This could turn into a fascinating study of “what came first – the frogs or the toads! I’ve never thought too much about it. Keep us posted.

    • hermitsdoor says:

      When I saw the picture that Linda took of the toad looking over the rock with the beautiful blue “sky” back ground, I knew I had to include that in a post. The blue is actually the side of the kiddie-pool, not the sky. Ha, ha, ha. NEVER believe what you see in a photography these days.

  2. Barneysday says:

    Great post. Our vernal pools don’t last even a few days, but we do have two, small ponds they defy our summers and make it though each year. The water goes down quite a bit, but they never dry up completely.

    So at night, the frogs are singing loud and clear, and I’m told there are a few, very large bass in residence in each pond.

    I, too, love the punch line. Well done

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