In for a penny, in for a pond

As you guys may recall, I had a bit of a hard time (OK, emotional meltdown) with all the digging that had to happen to install our geothermal loops. The backyard went from looking like a pleasant little meadow to looking like the site of the county fair’s tractor pull (TANGENT: Brandon took me to a tractor pull very early in our relationship, to try to remedy some of the Midwestern cultural deficits of his east coast girlfriend. Tractors + jet engines = insane). Anyway, the one consolation at the time was that we could restore the area with native plants, and perhaps even create our very own vernal pool. These small ponds (which hold water in the spring, and then dry down by late summer) are ideal breeding habitat for many amphibians, because they don’t support amphibian-egg-eating fish. And as we all know, I’m a bit of a sucker for an adorable amphibian.

So, this plan was somewhat percolating in my mind already… but then this weekend we got some major bummer news. Brandon chatted with one of the neighbors who own the property adjacent to Turtle House, and thus own the fantastic vernal pool that sits just over the property line. I have kind of adopted the pool, and pulled a bunch of trash out of it last spring (when I realized there were at least four frog species breeding there). It is such a cool pond that I’ve been scheming about how I can buy the property (or convince a friend to do so) to protect it. Looks like I may be too late, though. Apparently the owners need to put in a new septic system, and they think this little pond would be the perfect place to do it. And then they’re going to fill it in. And then they plan to reach down my throat, rip my heart out of my chest, chop it into a million pieces, and feed it to rabid dogs. And then shoot the dogs. Seriously you guys, TEARS.

So Project Vernal Pool (PVPTM) is now in overdrive, because I need to create some good breeding habitat before next spring so hopefully some of my displaced little amphibious friends can find it. If the neighbors’ pool still exists then, I may even collect and move egg masses… we’ll see. Anyway, all of this tragic preamble is to explain why I spent part of this evening out at the house scoping out the site where I want the new vernal pool to be. This area is adjacent to woods (good) and the soil has a lot of clay content so it holds water (also good, especially since so much of our property is so sandy). I am meeting with our GC tomorrow to explain the scheme and ask him how much it would cost to have the foundation guy dig a big ol’ pit. I plan to compare that number to the cost of a dozen shovels, six pizzas, and a keg of beer (a.k.a. the “alternative method”).

Anyway, I was pretty freakin’ bummed out after learning about the neighbors’ plan early Saturday afternoon. I was trying hard to get all zen and overcome my bummedness and act like a normal, non-salamander-obsessed human, because I was expecting a visitor – Kit, a.k.a. the DIYdiva, was in our neck of the woods, and stopped by to check out the house. Despite finding me covered in poly, paint, and wood chips, and Brandon wielding a chainsaw (!), she did not drive away in terror – and it’s a good thing, because let me tell you, that girl is just as hilarious in real life as she is on the interwebz. I’m pretty sure she gave me three new laugh-wrinkles, so THANKS A LOT, KIT. Just kidding – Kit is rad, and her can-do-anything attitude is incredibly inspiring and infectious to be around… to the point where crazy ideas like digging vernal pools by hand start to seem tooootally reasonable. Who’s in? I’ll buy the shovels and beer.


  1. I believe you forgot Alternative method 2.0, “explosives, six pizzas, and a keg of beer (to be tapped after the explosives)”–B


  2. The laugh wrinkles were mutual because I'm still chuckling about the big brick… you know. lol. So, not being a biologist, I'm guessing the vernal pool is different from your little pond? But I think it's awesome you're trying to create a home for the frogs. If the excavator doesn't work out, I'm in for shoveling!


  3. Sounds like a fun plan! Our ponds don't have any fish that we know of just lots and lots of amphibians. So much so that our state DNR wanted to come out and do some studies of the ponds though it hasn't happened yet. Our ponds don't dry out in the summer though. Not sure what that makes them exactly…

    Color me jealous on getting to meet Kit!


  4. Kit, yeah, our pond holds water all year so it has fish in it. There are a couple frog species that can do OK in that environment, but mostly it's a good spot for turtles (also good). Every girl needs a turtle pond AND a frog pond, right??

    Robin, that is awesome about your ponds! I'd love to know what species are there – let me know if the DNR ever surveys them! It isn't critical that they dry all the way (as you can obviously see!) – the main thing is that your ponds must not have predatory fish in them, if the amphibs are doing that well. Sweet!


  5. I will come over and help dig. I am only working 11 or 12 days in November so would probably be able to help out. I only charge being able to herp your land after we make it into an awesome salamander paradise.


  6. Jason, thanks!! You know I'll take you up on it… although today I started looking into renting a backhoe. YESSS. But I'd be happy to have you come help me increase the herp survey count! šŸ™‚


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