We have a new housing development going in adjacent to our property. There are 45 homes being built on what was a very large corn field up until 2 years ago when the process of putting in the roads began. We are located on the outskirts of our town which has always imparted a country feel, yet close enough proximity to schools, stores, and neighbors. About 11 years ago, we moved from a .66 acre lot in a subdivision on the other side of town, to this property which has over 3 acres of land that we have lovingly cared for, sculpting it into a space that reflects us and our value of nature.
What attracted us to this piece of property was the view out the living room picture window. It was an unobscured view of a coulee, the local term for a valley with only one way in and out. The gentle undulation of the hills, a mostly dry creek bed that fills and drains when we have some of those famous mid-western thunderstorms, and the hidden dens of coyotes, seldom seen but more often heard in the middle of the night while they feed their young, all filled this space. Cows were pastured here until the time the development started. And although, the cows were not ours and brought a plethora of flies that dirtied our house, they were entertaining to watch, providing at least one of our boys with a lesson on the birds and the bees.
The new development needed a drainage system, which unfortunately consists of a man-made mound and ditch, complete with buried concrete tiles and tubes placed right behind our house, smack in the middle of the coulee and its once beautiful view. Not meant to be a retaining pond for excess water from the development that, in fact, is what is has turned out to be. It rains, fills, and there the water sits…….for days! It does not drain or at least, it does not drain quickly.
Besides ruining our view and holding standing water, the drainage “ditch” – which was already dug out and repaired once this spring, has attracted a multitude of frogs. Just after dark the croaking starts and becomes almost unbearably loud! While I used to enjoy hearing the frogs, crickets, and yes, even coyotes at night, this loud croaking is not at all relaxing to listen to. I feel like a Giant Bufo Toad will hop out of the ditch and devour me at any moment! Just joking – Giant Bufo’s don’t live in Wisconsin, but you get the idea!
This creaking and croaking continues late into the night until the frogs and toads have apparently had their fill of one another. Seriously, the other night it was hard to even hear the coyotes’ celebrate their successful hunt over the croaking of the frogs!
So, what’s the point to my story? Well, for me it is two-fold. One is that you can (and should) always count on change. And, two, if you fill the drainage ditch, the frogs will surely come….in droves!
As a person who loves nature, my reaction to the frogs has surprised me. However, I also like to learn from my experiences, and since the drainage “ditch” is here to stay, I might as well educate myself on the frogs I am hearing. The Environmental Education for Kids website hosted by the Wisconsin DNR, and now the Wisconsin Green Schools Network, has a number of native frog descriptions and even audio clips of their calls. I’ll start there and maybe learn to be lulled to sleep by the call of the frogs.