Friday, November 30, 2007

Xmas Frog

A few years ago my wife purchased a 90 gallon plastic pond for our back yard. After installing it we decided to add plants and goldfish. Before winter we scooped out the fish and brought them indoors and placed them in an aquarium so they would survive to be placed back in the pond in the spring. The next year my son and and now daughter-in-law went down to the nearby drainage ditch to get us some cattails to put in the pond and also returned with a couple of bullfrog tadpoles. The tadpoles thrived in our tiny pond and by summer's end we had not only 2 young bullfrogs but a woodland leopard frog as well, he just showed up one day and decided to stay. When the time came to bring the goldfish in for the winter, 2 of the frogs had left, and we decided to bring in the remaining bullfrog and placed him in a terrarium. We fed him crickets we purchased at a local pet shop, and by spring he was fat and sassy. However, after a couple of weeks he left our pond. Evidently he got used to the taste of crickets and went in search of some. Over the years we have had many guests appear and leave our little pond and waterfall.
An eastern box turtle, a very large painted turtle, a tree frog, and many other toads and frogs.

This year we were again blessed with a full grown bull frog, much to my 3 year old grand-daughter's delight. Whenever she visited she would search "Mr. Froggy" out and talk to him.
Well this year we were very busy and waited too long to bring in the fish and before I new it winter had arrived. As I was going by the pond last week, I noticed the fountain head of the water pump sticking out of the ice that had formed. We had turned the pump off when the weather started to get cooler back in September. I decided that I had better remove it for the winter and broke the 2 inch thick ice in half and pulled out the section with the pump in it. I then decided to see if the goldfish were still alive and got out the long handled net and a bucket. When I returned to the pond I pulled out the remaining sheet of ice, that still had cattails sticking out of it, and flipped it upside-down in the yard to break the ice to return the roots back to the pond for winter. Imagine my shock and surprise to see a large goldfish and bullfrog stuck to the ice. Neither of them were moving. I reached for the goldfish and he suddenly started to wiggle and dislodged his top fin from the ice. I quickly picked him up and placed him in a bucket of pond water and he started to slowly swim around. I then turned my attention to the frog, he was just lying there upside-down on the ice, not moving. When I touched him to pick him up, his legs feebly twitched, he was still alive, but his head was stuck to the ice. I scrapped at the ice crystals formed around his head with my fingernails and he easily came free came. I was overjoyed, but then became worried when I noticed how white his eyes and surrounding skin were. I placed him in the bucket with the fish and he sank to the bottom, moving feebly whenever the goldfish bumped into him. I then started dipping the net into the pond searching for the other 2 goldfish I was hoping were still there, but only came up with 1. Our largest and oldest goldfish with white markings was nowhere to be found. I returned all of the plants to the pond and placed the bucket on the freezer on the back porch. Hoping the warm air would slowly bring up the water temperature while we got everything ready to house our guests for the winter. My wife and I cleaned the aquarium and other necessities for the fish and the old leaky aquarium that we used for a terrarium for the frog.
I filled the aquarium with cold tap water, but our well water was still warmer than the water the fish were in. I brought the bucket indoors and when the water had warmed up a little, I transferred the fish to their winter home. I then took the bucket into the living room were we had set up the terrarium and placed it in a warm spot to bring up the temperature of our hibernating frog and noticed the white skin had returned to its natural color. Two hours later I looked in the bucket to see a wide awake frog starring at me with his head out of the water. He was going to be fine. I picked him up to place him in the terrarium and "Mr. Froggy" made me aware that he was not happy with the idea. He squirmed out of my grasp and was hopping all over the cover of the terrarium and me, until I finally got a hold of him and gently put him in his new winters lodging. I waited a couple of days for him to totally thaw out and wake up before he got his first meal of crickets, and he was ready for them. Gulping down seven of them in as many minutes.
My wife talked to my granddaughter on the phone the other day and told her of our new house guest, and my soon to be four granddaughter let grandma know that next week she would be staying overnight so she could see "Mr. Froggy" and watch him eat the crickets.

Now, why did I title this story as Christmas frog? Well my children, Miracles always happen at Christmas time. And I consider "Mr. Froggy" being alive and "well" a miracle. Maybe not a big one, but I will give thanks for little ones any day.

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