Footless and Fancy Free Frog


This frog is missing its right rear foot. No, it isn’t one of those mutations caused by high levels of ultra-violet radiation or toxic chemicals in the environment. The cause is quite simple. You see, a fish bit it off. This frog is in our swimming pool. It started out as a tadpole. Ben, which the frog is sitting on, had collected a bunch of them from Mystery Pond up by the tree house and dumped them into the pool. Many of those tadpoles, and the subsequent bunch, got eaten by the fish who live in our pool. This one made it to adult size, or rather most of it made it.

Our pool has lots of life in it including daphnia, fish, two kinds of tadpoles, frogs and the occasional newt who drops in for a spell. The thing our pool does not have is any chlorine or other chemicals added to the water. This means it isn’t the crystal clear waters of your typical backyard pool. That’s a lot healthier and more pleasant for both us and the animal life in the pool.

The reason for the fish is they need somewhere to live. We bought them as small feeder comets but they have gotten quite large, perhaps 8″ long, over the years. They do a great job of eating up the bugs who would otherwise use the pool for a breeding ground. Most of all, the fish are fun to swim with. That right there is reason enough to go chemical free.

77째F/69째F Sunny

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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14 Responses to Footless and Fancy Free Frog

  1. S. Nichole says:

    That’s a great picture.

    It’s good to hear that it is not mutation that caused the deformation. I live in the area that the first mutations in the frog population were noticed, and we have seen a huge decline in the frog population since then.

  2. Curious, have you ever considered “fish farming”?

  3. Sojourner, aye, I was greatly releaved to realize that this was not a case mutation. I have read about it happening and dread it. Our valley is fairly isolated so chemical mutation is less likely but the UV issue is there. So far I have not seen any three legged frogs, etc and our frog populations are very healthy.

    Scott, I’ve thought about it but not done anything with it – yet. Rather than raising trout, which I do plan to try, I’m actually more interested in cultivating corals and tropical marine fish. One might think that is a bit of an odd idea for someone living on a mountain in northern Vermont… But I have some ideas. :)

  4. shannon says:

    Did you covert a traditional in ground pool to a “natural” pool Walter? We bought this house with a traditional, chlorinated 15 by 30 inground with a vinyl liner, and are planning to convert it but not sure where to start!

  5. Shannon, our ‘pool’ is a 12′ diameter 1,800 gallon above ground children’s pool. It consists of a simple fiberglass ring with a vinyl liner. I got it onsale in the fall for dimes on the dollar.

    I don’t know anything about inground pools but my guess is you could do the same thing. Simply stopping doing chlorination may be simple enough. I also removed the filter on our pump because it gets clogged so badly by the pollen in the spring. I discovered that I don’t actually need it. Our pool is circular so what we do is get the water spinning after we have taken our dip. Later, after water settles down, almost all of the grunge ends up in the middle and I either net it, vacuum it or siphon it out.

    The algea in the water I just ignore. The daphnia and other critters like to eat it. Over the course of the warm months I empty and refill the pool a couple of times to do a water change. Since our water is fed from the overflow of our spring that works but it might be an issue with a bigger pool on city water. We use the ‘waste’ water for the gardens – by then it is nutrient rich and it is our dry season so the gardens benefit well from the soaking.

    Do write about it and let me know if you go the ‘au-natural’ route.

  6. Emily says:

    What a neat idea, Walter! One question: what happens to the fish in the wintertime?

  7. Emily, most years the fish have stayed out under the ice in the pool. The ice only freezes about half way down the pool depth leaving about a foot or so of free cold water below that and they seem to go into suspension. The first year I worried they would suffocate as there is no air hole or open water but they were fine and we never lost any.

    One year the ducks got into the pool in the fall and ripped the liner. We brought the fish inside and they over-wintered in an unheated 50 gallon fish tank in the kitchen window. It was fun seeing them all winter.

  8. That is amazing, Walter! Have in your pool lots of life in it! Good idea indeed!

    And thank you for your compliment about my family’s photos. Most of people appreciate my grandfather’s pictures sitting on the bed. Really I love it so much too!

  9. pablo says:

    And I see your boy’s eyes are not all red-rimmed and bloodshot as they no doubt would be if he were swimming in chlorinated water.

    You’re giving your children a wonderful upbringing. Which one do you suppose with become President?

  10. Pablo, that sounds like a Chinese blessing. I would not want to curse any one with the Presidency. :}

  11. dragonfly183 says:

    I have been reading a lot of those natural pools. My goldfish pond is natural and fed by runoff water, but it hasn’t been cleaned in the 3 years i have had it and if you poke the bottom of it you get gas bubbles from the stuff rotting on the bottem of it that smell really bad (so we don’t poke it, lol) But if your cleaning your out several times a summer i guess that won’t make a difference. Do you have a problem w ith leaves in the fall or do you cover it? I was told to cover my goldfish pond in the fall to keep leaves from getting in. The way its right up against that steep slope I don’t think that would be possible. And besides I couldn’t see the fish then.

  12. Hi Dragonfly Lady, I see you got the background behind your title working in your blog template. It looks great!

    You said: I have been reading a lot of those natural pools. My goldfish pond is natural and fed by runoff water, but it hasn’t been cleaned in the 3 years i have had it and if you poke the bottom of it you get gas bubbles from the stuff rotting on the bottom of it that smell really bad (so we don’t poke it, lol)

    *grin* Sounds like you have some good decay going on there. I would either leave it alone or get it all stirred up. The initial release of lots of gas and other stuff could be hard on the fish though. Do you have frogs or other critters that will help turn over the bottom? Some fish do that.

    If your cleaning your out several times a summer i guess that won’t make a difference.

    Aye, since we swim in this one (which is a kid’s swimming pool sans chlorine or filters) several times every day (after chores, later in the afternoon, etc) we keep it a bit cleaner than a regular fish pond. In fact, the act of swimming in it helps clean it because we spin the water which makes the debris go to the center where it is calmest.

    We have another pond little pond we made that is ledge on one side and embankment on the other sides. That is more like what you are describing with the leaves in it as it is on the edge of the forest. There are so many frogs in it that I think they keep the bottom stirred up so we don’t get the gas pockets.

    Do you have a problem with leaves in the fall or do you cover it?

    We don’t cover the pool but we do not get many leaves because there are no trees close by. Also, it would be too much work. In the winter it gets a foot thick layer of ice and then several feet of snow on top of that to insulate it.

    I was told to cover my goldfish pond in the fall to keep leaves from getting in. The way its right up against that steep slope I don’t think that would be possible. And besides I couldn’t see the fish then.

    So instead you could just use a rake and harvest the leaves. Great stuff for the garden. Set the output from the pool to feed your growing spaces tool.

    Cheers,

    -Walter

  13. Urban Agrarian says:

    I just love this photo. I wish I could have gotten one like this when one of my kids was younger. However, come to think of it, no one’s too old to look cute with a frog on their head. Maybe I’ll have to find a frog and round up a grown-up kid.

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