Tag Archive: Rube Goldberg


Okay, so how big can a toad get? I mean, really?

We finally put in the vegetable garden this weekend. Nice planning on our part since we waited out some beautiful 73 degree weekends, and then ended up having to do it  in 90 deegree heat in order to actually have some veggies before October. Sunscreen, straw hat, sunglasses are of little protection when you are planting tomatoes and squash on what  feels like the surface of the sun.

As I  was working I heard some rustling nearby. Glancing over the garden fence I saw what initially looked like the rear end of a rabbit disappearing into a tunnel under the barn, the former home of George the groundhog. George apparently has moved on. God, I hope so. I don’t think I can take another incident of the dogs getting trapped after chasing George back into his warren of tunnels under the barn floor. After the last time we erected a fearsome barricade of fencing, firewood, lawn chairs and garden tools to keep them out. So far, it has worked, but the perimeter of the barn is looking a bit like a Rube Goldberg experiment.

Anyway, it took me a moment to realize I was actuallly looking at the colossal rear end of a toad. I think I had seen this same toad last year near the barn but it has clearly doubled in size. A testament to good eating I suppose. Clearly we must have a good selection of bugs on the menu.

This may even be the same creature known as Mr. Toad who lived closer to the house a few years ago and who used to phlegmatically stand his ground when the dogs and I came across him in the early morning. Back then, he reminded me of an amphibian ‘Columbo,’ the late great Peter Falk’s  memorable TV character, with his rumpled, somewhat world-weary demeanor. Good to know he may still be around.

So… how big can a toad get?

 

 

English: Red squirrel on bird-feeder On the la...

Image via Wikipedia

Squirrels are not on my top ten list of favorite animals. In fact I find myself fairly neutral about them…now. At one time years ago when I maintained an absurd number of  bird feeders in the backyard I found myself engaged in a battle of wits with an exploding population of squirrels. (Time out here for a Monty Python-like image of squirrels running around the backyard literally exploding one by one…)  Hmmm. Guess I’m not quite as neutral as I thought.

The depressing thing is I usually  lost the battle of wits with these little furballs. I kept adding baffles and extenders and all sorts of costly devices to keep them  off the feeders. They kept blithely ignoring my efforts and finding new ways around what was rapidly turning into a scene out of Rube Goldberg‘s world. I almost came to admire their persistence. I realize of course they were driven by the pressures of basic survival. Though maybe it was more than that since eventually I had the fattest squirrels on the block.

The day I found myself greasing the feeder poles with vaseline was the day I realized I had lost the war…and clearly, my mind. I ceded the battlefield.

In the interests of full disclosure, during the height of the squirrel wars, I found an injured baby squirrel who had fallen from its nest onto the street. Worried that the neighborhood cats would get it if I just let nature take its course I took it to a wildlife rehab center where it was treated  and eventually released into the wild. No doubt eventually finding its way back to my yard for its rightful share of the birdseed bounty.