Baby Tree Frogs 2023


This year was a hard year with no rains coming for 8 weeks during the months of April and May. Virtually the entire peach crop of Georgia was lost due to drought drop, and the rabbits in my yard ate zinnias and other plants they normally left alone.

This meant that most tree frogs in my neighborhood would not have a place to lay eggs and that my breeding tanks would be critical for that population.

This put a tremendous amount of pressure on me because last year when I set the tanks up, they were monopolized by Green Frogs (Lithobates clamitans), which eat the small Cope’s Gray Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis) and overloaded the tanks with thousands of tadpoles.

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Patrolled by Owls

barn owls at Yalobusha Farms on August 20, 2023

When you sew native pollinator seeds, stop mowing, and allow natural meadow to emerge an replace a lawn, you will always have some neighbors who will complain.

Usually they escalate their complaints by claiming that rats are mosquitos will be drawn to the dense vegetation.

The irony is that these same neighbors usually have birdfeeders, and a simple game camera or spotlight can quickly confirm that these feeders are what draws rats and other rodents at night.

I’ve noticed that since my yard cum meadow now has many songbirds and chipmunks and shrews and rabbits, there is usually a hawk or owl watching it hungrily.

Needless to say, I see many types of wildlife at night, but never rats. When I see rats, I see them making bee lines from the storm drains to the birdfeeders in the golf course lawns.

Also, since I installed my mosquito fish ponds, I can go out in my back yard without a shirt for hours. When it was a standard lawn of Saint Augustine grass, it was swarming with mosquitos, mostly invasive Asian tiger mosquitos.

Native ecologies work.

Pictured above are joe pye weed and cup plant in the foreground and Mexican sunflower in the background.

Mississippi Valley Chert Gravel Fossils


The chert gravel deposits of the lower Mississippi River valley were formed by glacial and alluvial processes, which tumbled and smoothed stones from all over the drainage of that great basin, from Montana to Minnesota to Pennsylvania and every place in between.

The fossils found in the chert gravels of the the lower Mississippy valley make great finds because they are chert that has been tumbled over the eons.

Chert is a microcrystalline silica mineral that forms when organic material (or their anhydride castings) are replaced by the action of groundwater over the ages. Chert is fairly hard and polishes nicely. The semiprecious gemstones such as agates and jaspers are examples of chert.


A good fossil in crumbly sandstone or limestone is nice and all but not nearly as nice a good fossil made of a nice hard gemstone that was polished by glaciers over eons.

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Seed Harvest 2022


Each year I feel anxious until I have some seed gathered for next year.

The tangles I have growing in the front an back are pretty dense in terms of the number of species of vegetables and flowers.

The vegetables include tomatillos, groundcherries, peppers, squash, pumpkins, okra, and several varieties of heirloom tomatoes.

The flower seeds also have to be gathered, although the birds leave very little of the sunflowers seeds to harvest.

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Sunflowers and Butterflies


The front and back yards are tangles of heirloom vegetables and wildflowers of many different types, and that draws a lot of butterflies, especially the large yellow tiger swallowtails.

Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifolia) and various varieties of sunflowers dominate about half the area with full sunlight, with cosmos, coneflowers, and zinnias making up most of the rest, at least as far as annuals.

Note that all of those flowers are warm yellow, orange. and red colors, and so it’s a little dazzling on blue-sky days, especially with all the large butterflies flying around.

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Eutrophic Collapse


Eutrophication is when the phytoplankton population explodes and depletes all the oxygen and kill all or most of the animals.

This happens when nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients build up and cause the algae to bloom.

The ecology in Experiment Tank #6 crashed from Eutrophic Collapse.

How did it get overwhelmed with nitrogen and phosphorus?

Because so many frogs laid so many clutches of eggs in it. Clutch after clutch.

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Flower Meadow & Rate of Change


The large maple in the back yard was home and pantry to all sorts of birds and animals, and so I wasn’t happy taking it down, but it needed doing.

The maple was asymmetrical and leaning over the house.

The issue was using a lot of energy to change things very fast and move all the organic material (tons of wood and leaves) off the property in a day because that is the way tree services work.

It went against my principle of making change slowly, even in removing invasive plants and ornamental shrubs.

I prefer to make large changes as incrementally as possible to minimize impacts on all creatures, especially salamanders and snails and other slow moving critters.

For the tree, I wish I could have left the main part of the trunk standing to rot in place and provide habitat for many kinds of insects, birds, and animals.

It could have been cut off at 12 feet, and I could put a beehive on top.

20220701-passionflower-bumblebee. Notice the yellow pollen on the bumblebee’s head, back, and wing.
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Male Rhinoceros Beetle


This is a male specimen of the eastern Hercules beetle (Dynastes tityus), a species of rhinoceros beetle native to the eastern US.

I saw one of these only a handful of times growing up, and I was amazed each time.

I associate them with years when June is rainy, and the plants are fat and green. I think every one of these I have seen turned up the day after a night rain.

If I had any doubts about turning my lawn into an ecological oasis, this guy showing up would have convinced me.

Young Adult Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)


This is a young adult Green Frog. It is much smaller than the old blue-faced males in the ponds, but it is still an adult and reproductively active, capable of laying a clutch of several hundred eggs in a night:

20220615-frog-eggs. This clutch of eggs was laid by a single pair of young Green Frogs of the same size and age as the frog shown above.

Experiment Tanks


I had some downcycled plastic barrels that I had previously used as rain barrels before discovering how much maintenance it took to ensure mosquitoes weren’t reproducing in them.

I cut these in half and plugged any holes and set up eight of these as breeding tanks for mosquito fish and tree frogs on my back patio.

The total volume of material in each tank is less than 15 to 20 gallons, with a rim of about 10 inches extending above the top of the water.

I added water and clay to each of these tanks and then seeded the microflora and fauna with mud and water samples from the ponds.

I let that brew for a week, and then I added plugs of aquatic plants from the ponds: water hyacinth, elodea, duckweed, and hair algae.

I also added more clay and topsoil for the minerals and to increase the biomass.

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