Something in the woodshed

It’s that time of year when the nights are getting darker and you start checking your store of logs, for the fire. Ours are safe and dry in the cow shed. And something else is safe and dry there too. A little toad, surprised and indignant at being disturbed, lifted himself up to the next log above, and hid himself away again. Unless I unsettle him once more, he will stay there for the winter.

Toads are dull shy creatures with warty skin, and I have seen them hiding in little holes in the garden. Sometimes I can just make out his bright eye and then, a quick dark movement as he hides as far down the hole as he can.

Once I had an old rotten plum tree cut down leaving a stump – it’s costly to get the stump grinder. I put a life-size wooden cat, as an ornament, on top and this is where the toad chose to live. I could see him in amongst the ivy and rotting wood, keeping cool and safe. I just had to lift the wooden cat and there was the toad. He got used to me showing him off to visitors.

But sometimes he wasn’t there, and I supposed he had walked off down the tree trunk to find food or a mate, or just have a wander around. He never stayed away for long and was soon back, snuggled down in his own private domain. This could have been Toad Hall, the magnificent mansion owned by Toady created by Kenneth Grahame in Wind in the Willows.

Toady was boastful and brash, but my toad is shy and retiring and not at all puffed up unless he feels threatened, which does not seem to happen even when I lift the ‘cat’ to see him.

If you have toads in your garden you are lucky because they will eat your pests such as insect larvae, spiders and slugs. The trouble with my toad is that he seems to have made friends with my slugs, who sit along side him under the ‘cat’.


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