Saturday, May 6

Daily Farm Photo: 5/6/06

Spotted In The Front Yard

There are something like 16 different kinds of turtles and tortoises in Missouri, and this is the time of year they pop out from wherever they've been hiding and start heading down the rural highways. I find these creatures absolutely fascinating, and I often cannot help myself--I pick them up to examine them more closely, turning them over and over, admiring and tapping on their gorgeous shells, trying to get them to poke their heads back out, and yes, probably making them quite nauseous in the process. My favorite thing about them? The way the 'door' on their shells always makes a soft "whooosh" as it closes up tight. Sheer mechanical brilliance.

Lately I've felt like doing just that--crawling into my shell and hiding for a while (and not just because of losing the three baby lambs). But after being overwhelmed by all of your wonderful comments and emails over the past few days, I have a feeling that isn't going to happen. I would no doubt receive payback a thousand fold for all those poor turtles I just can't leave alone. I can hear your incessant tap tap tapping on my impenetrable shell already. So not to worry. I'll keep my head out. And really, think of how much I would miss if I didn't.

Besides, my garden desperately needs me right now. While I try my best not to mess with Mother Nature, I must confess that I do quite a bit of Turtle Relocation this time of year. Because you see, every single turtle out there is making a beeline toward my strawberry bed. I kid you not. These historically slow moving creatures know how to run. Read this if you don't believe me.

Current Lamb Count: 21. Annette had a set of tiny twins this morning. One boy, one girl. So far so good. Heading back down there now.


  1. You're right about those turtles and their fast track. No one believes me but when I was a kid, I had a turtle run away. Really. I was in the backyard, harassing the turtle much in the same way as you. Mom called me in for lunch and by the time I got back out, that turtle had left our yard with a trail of dust behind it. Ok, so maybe THAT was an exaggeration, but seriously, that little creature was no where to be found.

    If you're ever feeling the mojo, I'd love to learn about your move to MO. How you initially found your place, what you did to prepare, etc. Maybe writing about it will be a deep reminder of why it's all worth it. In case you need that reminder... :)

  2. I love the turle. When I was a kid we lived out in Joshua Tree, CA. and during the spring, the tortises would be on the move. There was one that would hang around the house for a couple weeks we called Sam and he would patiently wait until we gave him some lettuce or other green stuff. Later when I lived in Florida my friends were amused because I would stop my truck anywhere to rescue tortises and snapping turtles that were crossing roads. Oh! oh! oh! I just remembered something! One summer we rented a house in Bella Vista, AK and there was this gigantic snapping turtle that used to beg for food in a pond, it had to have been two feet across the shell. Thanks for triggering all these fun memories.

  3. Wow - look at the beautiful markings!! Those beady eyes (that just say "so WHERE is this strawberry patch again!?"). And the shell is so shiney! Is that just because it was raining??

    I'm afraid we don't have anything quite as exciting here in Tallmadge/Akron, OH. Just lots of groundhogs, skunks, possums (usually only seen as roadkill, along with the other critters) and deer. Loooots of deer!

    Once I finally get my fantasy house and yard with big garden etc (hopefully later this year), I wonder what sort of wildlife I'll be fighting off.

  4. Once, my husband was out driving in the country with a friend and they spotted a turtle crossing the road. They picked him up and put him in the car and drove for a while to the nearest creek crossing the road where they let him out. The friend then launched into his imagined version of what that turtle was going to say to his wife when he got home a week later. “Where have you been?” “But honey, I was crossing the road and these aliens stopped and put me in a moving box and when they let me out, it was at this creek that was miles away! I’ve been walking day and night for a week just to get home!” “A likely story,” says the turtle wife.

    P.S. We're glad you're back and feeling better.

  5. Welcome back FarmGirl...
    Interesting -- read back at a few other comments -- raccoons are notoriously avid "hunters". We had one recently that chased my cats away from thier food. Worth investigating am sure. Very cunning creatures too.
    We had a slider water turtle for a few years -- he was really neat. We eventually released him in a pond. He would eat right from my hand and his favorite food was the feeder fish I would get him.
    Have a good weekend.

  6. when I was four years old my grandmother gave me a tortoise as a present. Soon after that they made improting tortoises illegal in Britain.
    My tortoise is called Topsy. She is still alive today, almost 36 years later. And she has a couple of mates too, 'Tog' (given to us by a neighbour who was moving) and 'Tom' (a tortoise who was found in the street and whose owners were never traced). I love my tortoises, but my mum obviously still looks after them. They aren't cheap either - they eat a whole iceberg a day in the summer, and bananas too.

    You know how you are supposed to find your 'porn star name' by taking your first pet name and your first street name?

    Well, that makes me "Topsy Tuffley" and I kind of like that!

  7. PS - tortoises can actually be really fast. I have stories about that too but they are X-rated and cruel to boot, so I wont repeat them here.

  8. I adore turtles and tortoises, and think they are as amusing as they are beautiful. One does not usually see turtle dramas unfold, as they are unfolding quite slowly.

    Once, though, as a result of some unforseen mishaps, I spent 4 hours sitting, waiting on the steps of the Museum in Golden Gate Park in SF., without a book to read.

    There is a pond there, with rocks and a bunch of beautiful big turtles, who appear to be simply sunning themselves, and swimming in a desultory fashion-basking lazily.

    Not so, at least not that day. Actually, there was one turtle who was very aggressively annoying the other turtles-climbing on the rocks where they hung out and bumping and nipping them. He would climb up on each rock, rest a bit, and then start acting the bully.

    The turtles on each rock would tolerate him for a bit, moving aside, trying-it seemed- to ignore him until they got thoroughly sick of him, turned around and teamed up to push him off. Very slowly.

    He would then slowly swim to the next rock. Each incident took at least an hour to develop-I'd never have seen it if I wasn't stranded. It was a hoot.I'm sure the museum visitors thought I was a space cadet, chuckling over nothing.

  9. It's good to see you coming out of your shell. And I'm so happy to hear about the newest lambs. Can't wait to see their pictures.

  10. Reminds me of my favorite song about a turtle:

    "And here is a turtle from the Long Island Expressway
    He says that his home has been covered with tar
    So I gave him a ride on the back of my suitcase
    And he says that he´d wants to live here in your yard
    At long last his life won´t be quite so hard"

    - "And How Are You" - John Sebastian

  11. Wow, I can understand your fascination! If I could find turtles in my garden, I would not be able to leave them in peace ("poor" little creature!) ;-))))...

    Good to hear that you have new baby lambs!

  12. Hi Everyone,
    I am just loving all these turtle stories! Thank you for sharing them. And even a song! : )

    Topsy Tuffley,
    Oops, I mean Sam (LOL too funny),
    That is so cool about Topsy. And it's great that she has a couple of mates. But why didn't you sneak them out to SF? They could be dining on fifty different kinds of lettuce from the farmer's market instead of plain old iceberg. : )

    Yes, the shell is shiny from the rain. They look even more beautiful when they are wet.

    As for what sort of wildlife you'll be fighting off in your fantasy house and garden? Oh, boy, you have NO idea. But don't let that stop you of course. You'll be able to look back and laugh at all your adventures--eventually. : )

  13. GirlOnAGlide,
    Re background on my move to MO. A lot of people have asked me similar questions, and while I still haven't gotten around to answering them, I do have something in the works that will not only give you some background information but should also be rather amusing. Hoping to have the first bit up in the next week or so. Stay tuned.

  14. That is the most beautiful turtle. Who can blame the turtles for waiting to eat your strawberries...homegrown berries are the best.

  15. Gee, I get busy for a week or two and things get crazy arouond your place! Hang in there with the fuzzies.

  16. I must say, as an overeducated architect from LA who's dying to move out to the middle of nowhere and farm, I'm OH SO EAGERLY awaiting the gettin' started stories!!!!!

  17. That turtle has such a pretty olive green color in his shell. I love finding them too, and I usually only see 1 or 2 per summer.

  18. Dear Susan, I just want to let you know on this Sunday morning (our time) that I love to see you back on blogging. Though I am not a very regular commentor for the time being due to so many things around here I have to catch up with I am at least an almost daily visitor on your site. And I have to stress again how fascinating your farm stories are, even when they are woven with problems and sorrow from time to time (I hope my English makes sense). Nature is wonderful - but nature is cruel, sometimes. Nature is life, but on your farm it cannot be hidden so easily like we are used to it in a big anonymous city. Please keep on telling about it, you do a lot of good with it. Many many hugs, angelika and a sweet kiss from gino

  19. I am so sosoososos glad ur back!

  20. What a beautifull creature.
    My first pet was a turtle .My mother bought her for me at the Hamburg Zoo ,Germany. I was 5 years old at the time .I doted on 'Monica'.
    Was totally brokenhearted when she died,along with our canarie in the airraid,that destroyed our home.
    Turtles always have a special place in my heart.

  21. What a gorgeous turtle! I can't imagine how wonderful it would be to find him in my backyard!

    (((hugs))) on your losses.....and sometimes we just have to hide in our shells....that's where we recover.

  22. Okay, so I have a turtle story, too ... When I was little, a friend of mine was given one by her grandmother who was visiting from Argentina. The turtle was also from Argentina. How did it cross the border and make it through customs? The grandmother had hidden it inside her bra. I kid you not! That must have been one LONG airplane ride, both for the grandmother AND the turtle!!

    Glad to see you're back, Farmgirl. :-)

  23. That's it. I'm planting a strawberry patch. Actually, about 10 minutes ago I was giving my husband 100 reasons why I couldn't have a strawberry patch (no space, combative pumpkin plant close by, pesky creatures, etc) and now I don't think I can be talked out of it. Strawberry pot it is. I mean, why not right? I already have the white dishes.

    Loving your blog :)

  24. I think strawberries are like crack for turtles. At my Mom's place she puts chicken wire underneath the borders to keep the turtles out. And that doesn't stop the really determined ones. Glad you're back.

  25. Hmm. If I put some strawberries out every day, do you think a turtle might come and hang out with me?

  26. What a gorgeous turtle! They truly are some facinating critters. I actually have one that does yoga ;)


    I love your blog!

  27. Just a strawberry note--I was reading your old post. I think the only real excuse to cook a strawberry (aside from jam) is strawberry-rhubarb pie! I make a crisp actually, lighter and fruitier than a pie, and it's one of the great joys of late spring, and a perfect way to use the strawberries that aren't quite flawless. I have two beautiful scarlet rhubarb plants going--both transplanted from a bed my grandfather planted at least thirty-five years ago--and that keeps us well-supplied. My strawberry bed is in its second year so I'm hoping for a generous crop--and keeping my eye out for turtles!


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

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