Fog lingered around the willows and alders this evening, glowing in the bright light of a nearly full moon. It had been a hot, sunny day, and just around sunset there was a very hard rain, which quenched the green earth, sending up a foggy steam. Now the moonlight plays on this fog, making a glowing landscape.
From the mist I hear the deep croaking songs of several large, green bullfrogs. The other frogs have gone through their courtship season and now it's time for the bullfrogs to sing their love songs. The small farm pond at the end of the valley is home to several kinds of frogs. The frog music starts in March with the sounds of thousands of aptly-named spring peepers. Their songs can be heard every night well into June. As spring moves on, other frogs join in, and by August the pond will be home to many kinds of tadpoles — leopard and wood frost, chorus and tree frogs, peepers, bullfrogs and American toads.
The frogs in the picture are some of those who live here in the Kickapoo Valley of Southwest Wisconsin. They are (front row left to right) Bull frog, Leopard frog, Gray tree frog; (back row left to right) American toad, Wood frog, Chorus frog, Spring peeper.</td> </tr> </table>
Small ponds can be a wonderful home for a vast number of wildlife species. The healthier the pond, the more diverse the life forms are that come from it. Overuse by livestock can have a bad effect on a healthy pond. Synthetic chemicals draining into the water can also devastate life in the pond.
Frog populations have been dwindling in some places in the Midwest, due to a lack of clean water and the loss of habitat. Why? Same old story — people are putting their short-term needs ahead of those of the wildlife. I've heard it said that when the frogs disappear, everything else is bound to follow. That alone is a good enough reason for me to wish that all farmland was under organic stewardship.
Healthy small ponds are important to organic farmers. They appreciate the frog music each spring. They also know that frogs are beneficial because they catch and eat insects. The healthy pond gives back to the farm, and will continue to do so if it is not abused.
Recent rains have made the coats of black and white dairy cows shiny and sleek. The cows look healthy and clean. Some cows who live in commercial diary farms never get to feel the rain, or the sun. They spend their lives under a shelter — a very unnatural way to live. Organic cows spend their summer days and nights feeding in a lush green pasture, breathing fresh country air and drinking clean, cool water from a pond or creek.
Many people have told me that organic milk tastes better, and it's easy to see why. Organically raised cows, living under natural conditions, are less stressed. The sweeter the cow's life, the sweeter the milk she produces! When I taste the wonderful milk, I think about the small farm pond and all the good things that come from it.
"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."
-- John Muir
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