‘We are used to having unusual wildlife on the farm, but this is my first experience of a toad with death-wish tendencies’

The pond at Anne-Marie's Hail Weston farm.

The pond at Anne-Marie's Hail Weston farm. - Credit: Archant

We are used to having unusual wildlife on the farm, but this is my first experience of a toad with death-wish tendencies.

I first made his acquaintance at the height of the summer this year, whilst weeding one of the flowerbeds.

I discovered him living under a giant euphorbia, sheltering from the heat, and I am not too sure who had the biggest shock when he suddenly leapt out!

I decided to leave him in peace, and put off the weeding in that area. From that day on, I made sure that he would have access to fresh water each day, too. He continued to flourish over the months, and it wasn’t until last week that we met up again – this time by torchlight in the shed near the back door. Whilst I hastily removed both cat and dog, Rob caught the toad and put him safely back under the shelter of the euphorbia, and we thought that was that.

I was very surprised therefore, to discover him making his way into the shed again. I have no idea what the attraction is and, in fact, know very little about toads and their needs, but one thing that I am certain about is that getting trapped in a garden shed without food and water, is a very bad idea.

It is extremely likely to bring about his demise, as it is full of junk, and we might not find him until it is far too late. I explained all this to him as I picked him up and placed him carefully back under his favourite plant, but am not sure whether he will listen to this sage advice, or not.

I will have to do a bit of research now and find out if he is seeking somewhere to live for the winter. If this is the case, then it will be the first time that I have constructed the Wood Farm equivalent of Toad Hall!

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We have been making some improvements to assist other wildlife on the farm, recently, too. Over the years, a couple of the farm ponds had become silted up and very overgrown, and we finally decided to get them properly restored so that the wildlife could use them more easily, once again. There was great excitement when the 360? digger turned up last month and work finally began.

There is something mesmerising about watching a real expert operating a piece of machinery, and the digger driver made it all look so effortless. It was a joy to watch him at work, knowing full well that getting the restoration right was not as simple as it appeared.

He has done a wonderful job, and I suspect that it won’t be too long before the wild ducks return once more, now that they have clear water to take off and land again. With the banks gently sloping at one end, and the water levels restored, other wild animals too will be able to drink from the ponds more easily again, which should be a great help to them, particularly when rain is in short supply.

Annoyingly, rain has not been in sufficiently short supply over the last few days, has it? We were hoping to get on with drilling some of our autumn crops, but every time we got ready to make a start, another extremely heavy downpour would make it impossible for us to get on to the land. Initially, we were not too worried, but time is moving on, and we need to get the crops in the ground as soon as we can now, as our clay is unforgiving, once it gets really wet. It is a frustrating situation, and I am beginning to dread the daily weather forecasts, as they rarely bring good news at the moment. Perhaps we should adopt the tactics of the elderly neighbour who used to farm next door to us in Leicestershire. When Rob was complaining to him about the weather one day, he was told by Uncle George that he should watch the forecast on the other channel, as it was always much better!