Saturday, October 16, 2010

wherein the turtle comes home

These long days in the shop are getting harder for me to do. Oh, I can put 10 hours in with only a break for lunch and I can do it again the next day. It's that third day that starts to tell on me and the fourth day, I'm totally today. Fortunately this last time the third day was only about 5 hours long. But I'm still worthless today, putzing around and reading. It's a beautiful day today so I'm spending a lot of time wandering around outside.

We left for the city last Tuesday but now we are back home at the country house. We still have three items to move and all three of them are a major production. Or we had three things to move (besides the rest of the shop of course); the turtle, our Lee Littlefield outdoor sculpture and the dining room chandelier. I say had, because we brought Big Mama, our red ear slider turtle, back with us this time.

I spent last weekend setting up the new turtle pond, a stock tank 8' in diameter and almost 2' high that holds almost 600 gallons of water. Her old pond was one of those small kidney shaped water lily ponds that we had sunk into the ground and then used landscaping stones to build a short wall around a section of the yard that included the pond. That way, she could get out and dig around some. Turned out that the only time she ever did that was in the spring when the 'egg laying' was upon her, the actual reason we gave her the yard. For baby turtles. And although she has laid many eggs and we have had various males over the years, we never got a baby turtle.

The other reason she would get out and wander around her little yard was for trying to figure out how to escape. These two states of being usually went together, but not always. There were times when she was just hell bent on escaping. She would walk along the boundary, some places stone wall, other places chicken wire and bricks, prodding and pushing, looking for an opening and climbing.

I didn't sink the new pond, at least not yet. We are uncertain where we want it to be so I put it in a spot I knew would get a lot of sun during the winter but it crowds the gate and is next to a tree so for now it's sitting on the ground. I dug up the grass, leveled the ground as best I could and set up the tank, stacked up the sunning island and filled it with water.

Friday afternoon we put her in a galvanized tub, put her in the back of the truck and headed on home. We also brought her 10 fishy companions, what's left of a dollar's worth of feeder fish. I expect that they will really start to grow now and become food for some of the herons around here.

Today we set up the pond filter and the pond pump. We still have to bring the water plants and the tubs for them and the rest of the landscaping stones. The pond will stay here for at least a year, through all the seasons, so I want to dress it up some. Already I like it where it is because I can see her sitting on her island when I am at my drawing table.

It's dark now and I went out a little while ago and she was still on the island, pulled into her shell. She stuck her head out at my approach. We stared at each other for a while because that's about all you can do with a turtle. I talked to her, came in. I looked again just now and she has disappeared into the water.


  1. Now that is cool! Who would have thought that you would still have this turtle so many years later? Wow! Nice story.

  2. We had a pet turtle when I was a kid. Yes - staring at each other is about the limit of contact. When the turtle died we had a big funeral. We put it in a shoebox, carried it around on a bedsheet (with four of us kids as pallbearers) singing "Where have all the flowers gone."

    My goodness.

    Of course you should not be working 10 hour days. That's too much.

    BTW putzing and reading is NOT worthless. You rock and roll.

  3. Where does the turtle go when it freezes?

    ...or am I being northcentric?

  4. Now that's what I call a story worth telling. I (as you know) adore turtles and this story of your Big Mama is a smile producer for sure.
    Almost every native american culture has a creation-ish (not a word but oh well) that involves a turtle carrying the world on it's back. Therefore the world can be considered....turtle island.
    The Olde Bagg

  5. She's lovely. You should talk with Linda over at Olde Bagg - she has a herd of them living in her backyard - it's crazy fun.

  6. BIG MAMA such a pretty girl- She has such a cool home. Our turtle had to live in a tiny home.

  7. "...She stuck her head out at my approach. We stared at each other for a while because that's about all you can do with a turtle..."

    I love this story...particularly the sentence quoted above. Somehow it feels like mutual respect.

  8. You are a turtle lover, for sure. Most of our pet turtles disappeared, never to be found again. They put up with us for just a bit.
    Glad to know she gives you so much pleasure just sitting there.

  9. That was very Interesting, I had indoor turtles years ago, but never had an outside one because of the weather...I think it is great you can see Big Mama from your window. Hoping you get some rest and enjoy the outside. take care.

  10. That is so cool. I read the backlink too. They're amazing creatures. We have one in the neighbourhood park. She hangs around on a long in the pond almost every sunny day. Thanks for telling this story.. and thanks for looking after this wonderful critter.

  11. Your turtle is beautiful and I loved your descriptions of her new home. I had no idea how much work having a turtle would be?! Amazing! That is so cool that you have used a stock tank. Perfect!!!
    I do know they try to escape quite frequently. My SIL had one and it disappeared rather abruptly! Never to be found again. They were so sad!

  12. Ellen - those days are far too long - its why I hated the village so much, we just worked, worked, worked and although the place was beautiful I never really had time to sit and watch the world go by.
    My sister keeps tortoises - which I suppose is like having a turtle, except that I think turtles might well be more active.

  13. One more thing off that list...

    Glad you got some time to enjoy the beautiful fall.

  14. I love reading about your turtle, and that picture of her on her "island" is just precious. Don't you think that when you are just staring at each other, you are communicating nonetheless? I see a book in this story ...

  15. I'm glad Big Mama is home with you now - & where you can see her. I wonder what she's thinking when she looks at you? I imagine her having the same kind of mind that a cat has - which means you probably DON'T want to know what she's thinking LOL.

  16. What a nice little spot for your turtle. She seems happy, although she might have been miffed about the ride in the truck. How very cool to have a turtle! I spent time worrying over the turtles that would wander onto the highways and byways of Minnesota when we lived there. I was known to stop the car and run out to save them. I think they just probably wandered back out as soon as I left. When they want to go somewhere it's pretty hard to stop them.

    Be sure to take care of yourself, too.

  17. I think I might have an idea why she keeps on trying to escape: she simply doesn't like he males you are providing for her.
    She wants to go out and find her own man!
    Atta girl!

  18. I love turtles! I'm not sure why. Maybe because they are so unlikely.


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