Toad BOOK LOOK #6: Tons of Tadpoles + The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)

” A Curious Capkin caught in the middle of tons of tadpoles! “

These toad tadpoles are between 2-3 weeks old now and are very active at the river’s edge.

To see them in action visit PINTEREST video HERE.

Tadpoles gathering in large busy clusters at the river’s edge as the water level recedes a bit from lack of rain storms.


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

Family Gardening #11: Weeds + Water


P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan


Although you may not see it in action all of today’s photos represent a great deal of weeding and watering in order to allow the gardens the best chance to thrive. This is a required set of tasks for the next few months that can be done by many or just a few family members and reaps great rewards for all.

Thankfully my husband put down some weed block and free wood chips to keep the weeds down in his rectangular veggie garden this year. It is amazing to still see how persistent the weeds can be as they poke through randomly and need to be plucked.

The wood chips around the plants as well as the original decaying logs beneath the plants and in the soil (hugelkulture beds) have both helped retain the moisture during this dry season.

And so the pattern now is every day two of my green thumb family members get up in the morning and check on their gardens to see if they need water, pluck any weeds that are beginning to take over, and to check on the progress of all their plants. Sometimes there is even harvesting which is mostly lettuce and dark greens at this time of year with a few strawberries and some beautiful blooms to place  front and center on the kitchen table too.

Here is a snapshot of how the gardens looked after the 1st official week of summer.

Tomatoes are on the way and

cabbages too!

Beautiful blooms in the butterfly garden!


How about YOU? How’s it growing?


Hope your family’s green thumbs are all in gear!

And remember there are plenty of parts we can all P.L.A.Y. in this process including those of us with brown thumbs (aka non-gardeners) too.

For example:

Since we’ve had an unusual lack of water where we live in Western Massachusetts the crops that don’t receive irrigation by humans and rely on rainwater are suffering. This means there is a concern at this time about how much hay will be available for the farm animals, especially for storage for the long New England winter. Thankfully we still have more summer months to go to see if mother nature will bring a better mix of rainstorms and sunshine to help the hay grow before the final cutting and harvest.

So for now, to help do my small part and make use of my brown thumb, I’ve been cutting down our plentiful 3 foot tall weeds from the meadow daily and weaving them into the goat fencing so my daughter’s herd of 4 Nigerian Dwarf Goats may have extra snacking throughout the day and their hay intake can be rationed adjusting for the months ahead.


Hope your garden spaces are staying green!

BONUS!

Check out this video on Pinterest

“Hello Yellow – Bitty Bugs on Parade”!


Notes:

  • This series will continue to follow the seasons and growing patterns according to living here in a Zone 5 northern New England climate and you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
  • The specific gardening needs you have can simply be answered using your favorite search engine online seeking DIY instructions as well as library eBooks and audiobooks (especially as we are all asked to continue to P.L.A.Y. in Place at the time of this posting).
  • P.L.A.Y. is here to encourage you and your family on your gardening journey simply by posting some of our experiences as inspiration and basic prompts to growing food and flowers.

More P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan Family Gardening HERE


This P.L.A.Y. series is for everyone! Pass it on!

  • If you are new to gardening this series is designed to encourage you and your family to take small steps towards growing foods and flowers of any kind and any amount.
  • If you’ve tinkered with gardening in the past and things didn’t always work out this series is here to encourage you to try again AND do it as a family focusing on each individuals strengths to help it all come together.
  • This series will offer up suggestions for basic leaping off points where you and your family can begin and choose to deep dive or keep it simple in the world of gardening.
  • Most of all this series will be a source of encouragement and hopefully an inspiration to simply get in the dirt (aka garden) and P.L.A.Y. and the rest will “bee what it will bee”.

Simply BEE!

Family Gardening #10: Foraging + Farm Fun


P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan


YUMMY!!!

Pick-your-own strawberry season!


You’ve Got Options!


Your family has so many options in addition to trying to grow your own fruits, veggies, and flowers in your home spaces.

There are plenty of local farms that would love for your family to participate in purchasing veggies or pick-your-own berries as a great outdoor fresh air activity. My hubby just picked 10 lbs of strawberries this morning at a local farm and we treated ourselves to making homemade biscuits and coconut cream to pair with them. Yumalicious!

And even nearer to home there may be many options for you to safely forage for “free” foods simply by using reliable resources like the one above to identify what is OK and edible versus not OK. If in doubt don’t! Check and double check! Safety First!

These strawberries were fun to forage on a hot day in our meadow as the sunshine ripened berries, although tiny, were so full of flavor and very much treasured.

Recently my son found these chicken-of-the-woods mushrooms and easily gathered many pounds in just a few days from one source. He fried it up in our wok and most of the family has been enjoying it all week in sandwiches and stir-fry and the rest easily goes in the freezer (already cooked).


 P.L.A.Y. Check In – How Are Things Growing?


Do you have any foods or flowers that are attracting your attention or perhaps the attention of local bugs, birds, or 4-legged critters?

We are enjoying the challenge of trying to keep up with eating our lettuce greens and our dark kale greens that all are currently coming in abundance. Thankfully we can freeze the dark greens to use in soups and smoothies so we’ve placed an emphasis on the salad green eating.

My daughter’s butterfly garden is blooming quite nicely with a variety of flowers and colors and plenty of winged visitors!


Hope your garden spaces are greening up!


Notes:

  • This series will continue to follow the seasons and growing patterns according to living here in a Zone 5 northern New England climate and you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
  • The specific gardening needs you have can simply be answered using your favorite search engine online seeking DIY instructions as well as library eBooks and audiobooks (especially as we are all asked to continue to P.L.A.Y. in Place at the time of this posting).
  • P.L.A.Y. is here to encourage you and your family on your gardening journey simply by posting some of our experiences as inspiration and basic prompts to growing food and flowers.

More P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan Family Gardening HERE


This P.L.A.Y. series is for everyone! Pass it on!

  • If you are new to gardening this series is designed to encourage you and your family to take small steps towards growing foods and flowers of any kind and any amount.
  • If you’ve tinkered with gardening in the past and things didn’t always work out this series is here to encourage you to try again AND do it as a family focusing on each individuals strengths to help it all come together.
  • This series will offer up suggestions for basic leaping off points where you and your family can begin and choose to deep dive or keep it simple in the world of gardening.
  • Most of all this series will be a source of encouragement and hopefully an inspiration to simply get in the dirt (aka garden) and P.L.A.Y. and the rest will “bee what it will bee”.

Simply BEE!

Toad BOOK LOOK #3: Egg Strands + The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)

How LONG do you think the typical toad egg strands are?

The strands I discovered at the river’s edge were roughly 25 feet long.

The strands of jelly like substance puff up with water when they are first released and then the black eggs space out and leave gaps of room for the tadpoles to grow for a few days or up to ten days before they then hatch out of the strings.

Often, as seen here, the strands become covered with “dust” particles from movement in the river or water location.

How many black eggs are there per inch? per strand?

The toad egg strands I found had 10 black eggs per inch.

So roughly how many toad eggs is that per strand?

Simply based on my observation there were 10 eggs per inch which means 10 eggs x 12 inches =120 eggs in 1 foot and then multiply that by roughly 25 feet in a strand.

That means there were approximately 3,000 black eggs in just ONE strand with “oodles” of strings discovered up and down the river’s edge!

Close-up videos of egg strands flowing in the water on PINTEREST HERE and  HERE.


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

Toad BOOK LOOK #2: Tadpole Habitat + The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)

Where do you find those awesome toad egg strands?

I’ve had the most success finding toad egg strands for the past few years along the edges of our river once it becomes more shallow in mid-May and all the way through mid-June.

Often there are also side streams of water that form channels and large puddles and if the toads time it just right they can lay their egg strands, have the tadpoles hatch, and become toadlets all before the water dries up in the heat of the summer.

P.L.A.Y. Adventure – Curiosity Time – Part #1

  • Where are there toads, or frogs, in your area? How would you know?
  • Depending on the time of year you’ll need to be looking AND listening.
  • If you’re not sure, check out some resource guides for your local area and then plan a field trip to visit where toads hang out near you! You’re in for a toad-ally awesome treasure treat!

HINT: Be a patient observer and take your time looking along the water’s edge as often the toad egg strands are a bit camouflaged by the silty sand that has collected on them (unless they are freshly hatched strands!)

Where and when can you look for actual toad tadpoles?

P.L.A.Y. Adventure Time – Part #2

The tadpoles near to where I live in Massachusetts hatch in the water at the very end of May in late spring and continue to grow throughout the summer until late August when they change into toadlets and then exit the water heading for the woods as autumn approaches.

Visit this PINTEREST video HERE to see what key nature pieces need to be in place to make a suitable tadpole home (habitat) outdoors. Make a list of what you see by getting curious and asking questions:

  • Is the water moving or still?
  • What is on the bottom of the water area?
  • What is surrounding the pool of water?
  • Is it shaded or sunny?

Time to take a walk in the woods or in a local nature park on trails to see if you can spy the tadpole habitat near your home. And be sure to continue getting curious and ask even more questions:

  • What temperature is the air?
  • What temperature is the water?
  • Are the tadpoles actively swimming or sitting still?
  • What other animals are in the water? Salamanders? Snails? Small Fish?
  • Are their any bird or animal tracks near the water’s edge suggesting there are visitors?
  • What else did you observe? Record it!

 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

Family Gardening #9: “Bed Time”- Plants In


P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan – Time to Get Growing!



WHO?

Some of your plants are going in the ground into those wonderful beds you have now dug, composted, and mulched while some other plants are still waiting in the wings.



WHAT?

It is that season where the temperatures can still dip unexpectedly low at night up here in the hilltowns and some plants need to be covered or “tucked in” overnight.



WHERE? WHEN? HOW?

And as your garden and plantings multiply you need to provide more covers for the night time chill and also at times to keep critters at bay. The “making of the beds” or tucking in and uncovering of plants becomes a morning + evening routine.



WHY?

My husband is seen here tending to this task and although the wind and elements can make it a challenge at times it is absolutely worth the results when the garden flourishes under your tender loving care.

Pinterest VIDEO HERE for a late spring sunshine smile amongst the merry little breezes as he “fluffs the sheets” for his new garden beds.


 P.L.A.Y. Connection Opportunities


How are your gardening adventures coming?

Does it feel like P.L.A.Y. in progress?

Or rather it feels more like frustration frenzy which is no fun?

This is an opportunity to pause and assess your family’s strengths and interests to see what is manageable for all of you at this time.

How many plants you grow and how many garden spaces you have each year are all things to consider as you address the following:

  • Who likes to identify and pull or “wack” weeds?
  • Who likes to water once maybe even twice a day?
  • Who likes to tuck and untuck the garden beds?
  • Who likes to maintain the mulch or fencing or other tidy up tasks?

Communicating needs is key to growing a healthy garden and making lasting connections for you and your family.



Notes:

  • This series will continue to follow the seasons and growing patterns according to living here in a Zone 5 northern New England climate and you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
  • The specific gardening needs you have can simply be answered using your favorite search engine online seeking DIY instructions as well as library eBooks and audiobooks (especially as we are all asked to continue to P.L.A.Y. in Place at the time of this posting).
  • P.L.A.Y. is here to encourage you and your family on your gardening journey simply by posting some of our experiences as inspiration and basic prompts to growing food and flowers.

More P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan Family Gardening HERE


This P.L.A.Y. series is for everyone! Pass it on!

  • If you are new to gardening this series is designed to encourage you and your family to take small steps towards growing foods and flowers of any kind and any amount.
  • If you’ve tinkered with gardening in the past and things didn’t always work out this series is here to encourage you to try again AND do it as a family focusing on each individuals strengths to help it all come together.
  • This series will offer up suggestions for basic leaping off points where you and your family can begin and choose to deep dive or keep it simple in the world of gardening.
  • Most of all this series will be a source of encouragement and hopefully an inspiration to simply get in the dirt (aka garden) and P.L.A.Y. and the rest will “bee what it will bee”.

Simply BEE!

New Toad-ally Awesome Series Sunday’s

The toads are calling and asking you to hop right over to this  toad-ally awesome series every Sunday!

Listen to all the male toads calling out to this female toad (lower left) down by the river on PINTEREST HERE.


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

New – Toad BOOK LOOK series on Sunday’s

Two Toads . . . and . . .

Three Egg Strands . . .

and tons of Tadpoles!

This is just a sample of what we’ll cover of the life cycle happening down at the water’s edge in late spring and throughout the summer here in New England.

Be sure to tune in Sunday’s for this TOADally awesome P.L.A.Y. nature adventure series throughout June, July, and August!


~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

Spring Color Sampler with Summer in View

Prepare for Summer P.L.A.Y.!

Nature Alliteration Adventures Summer Activity Book HERE


Spring Color Sampler with Capkins Matching Like Magic!



Summer is in view and you can join in with your Capkin on more adventures too!


Family Gardening #8: Tractor or Trowel Time to Dig In!


P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan – Time to Get Growing!


Everything comes “alive” in the spring – the tractor gets back to work tilling the lower gardens, seedlings are placed in the raised beds, and the compost bins overflow in the far corner continuing to make “garden gold”.


WHO?

Whether it is a trowel or a tractor it is time for family members to dig in especially with the last of the late frosts behind us.


Last frost melting (far left) on the newly made butterfly garden beds.


WHAT?

My daughter has made use of butterfly attractor plants that were already growing in our yard and transplanted them into some of her new garden beds. And through her research she has determined what plants to forage for beyond our yard. Also, with assistance from fellow community members, she has added beneficial plants to her beds even before she puts in the seedlings she has been nurturing indoors.

Perhaps it is time for you and your family to take a little “field trip” in your own yard to see what might work well to transplant and create new groupings. See if any neighbors have things growing that they’d like to share and could help fill in your new spaces.

Also put the word out in the various social circles your family has (school, church, town, etc.) that you are looking for specific plants or just plants in general to liven up your yard with garden beds. You’ll be surprised how eager folks are to share many of the plants they have in abundance and were actually looking to thin out.

Often local CSA’s or other avid gardeners have extra seedlings of food plants that they end up not planting and are willing to pass along to folks too.

There is an abundance of ways to get your garden started or to keep it expanding!


New butterfly gardens as seen from below with transplanted violets from the “lawn”.


WHERE? WHEN? HOW?

Remember, now is the most optimal time to communicate your needs to friends and family in regards to plant sharing as they are beginning to look at their own yards and gardens with fresh spring eyes and perhaps seeking some changes that you could benefit from as they pull things out and rearrange.


A trowel is a tried and true tool for flower gardens.


WHY?

In the years to come as you and your family continue to dig in and P.L.A.Y. in your garden and yard spaces you’ll see ways to make changes as well as pass forward some of what you’ve learned or grown to the benefit of others.

 P.L.A.Y. Connection Opportunities:

  • Take a few moments to look up the origins of a trowel vs. spade. What are they used for? Are there other basic tools of the trade that will make your gardening easier without getting into expensive purchases?
  • As seen in the photo above my husband has opted to use a tractor for tilling his garden bed at this time. There have been many conversations in our farming community about the merits of both tilling vs. no-tilling. If you or your family are so inclined I encourage you to look up the difference and see what works best for you.
  • At the end of the day if garden beds seem too challenging for some of your family members encourage them to try growing something, anything, and P.L.A.Y. indoors. Below I cut off the bottoms of celery stalks and placed them in a dish of water and put them in the center of our kitchen table. Over the past few weeks we’ve had fun watching what “grows” up through the center!

Celery stalks “starters”!


Notes:

  • This series will continue to follow the seasons and growing patterns according to living here in a Zone 5 northern New England climate and you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
  • The specific gardening needs you have can simply be answered using your favorite search engine online seeking DIY instructions as well as library eBooks and audiobooks (especially as we are all asked to continue to P.L.A.Y. in Place at the time of this posting).
  • P.L.A.Y. is here to encourage you and your family on your gardening journey simply by posting some of our experiences as inspiration and basic prompts to growing food and flowers.

More P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan Family Gardening HERE


This P.L.A.Y. series is for everyone! Pass it on!

  • If you are new to gardening this series is designed to encourage you and your family to take small steps towards growing foods and flowers of any kind and any amount.
  • If you’ve tinkered with gardening in the past and things didn’t always work out this series is here to encourage you to try again AND do it as a family focusing on each individuals strengths to help it all come together.
  • This series will offer up suggestions for basic leaping off points where you and your family can begin and choose to deep dive or keep it simple in the world of gardening.
  • Most of all this series will be a source of encouragement and hopefully an inspiration to simply get in the dirt (aka garden) and P.L.A.Y. and the rest will “bee what it will bee”.

Simply BEE!