Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's a Big Snap

We’re back to normal today, and I’m so grateful that all of us, two and four-legged family members, made it through the heatwave without getting sick. In the middle of the worst of it, yesterday morning, I had a crazy adventure.

After I wrote my post, I went out to the barn to feed the horses. Glancing over at the pasture, I saw this large black bowl turned upside down in the grass. It was bigger than a dinner plate. I did a double-take. It was a huge turtle.

My plan had been to turn the horses out right away and muck before the heat got too oppressive. Now, I had to deal with this invader. When I approached the turtle, I could see it was a big old snapper. It’s neck and head were as thick as a soda can. I got a snow shovel and the wheelbarrow. I tried to dig under it and lift it. Like lightning, the turtle’s head flew back and grabbed the shovel almost pulling it out of my hands. I backed off really fast. This was not a job for one person.

My husband wasn’t home, but I saw my neighbor across the street getting ready to go to work. I ran over to him and asked for some help. “I’ve been waiting for her.” He told me, “That turtle comes to my yard every year just before Father’s Day. I’ve been warning the kids to watch out for her.”

He showed me that the turtle had laid her eggs in our pasture not far from where I left the wheelbarrow. We tried to flip her over on her back, but she kept righting herself. Finally, using two snow shovels, we managed to lift her and balance her on one of them. My neighbor walked as fast as he could holding the shovel with the snapping turtle straight out at arms’ length. He almost got to the back fence when she fell off onto the compost pile. He wasn't going to try to lift her up again.

I thanked him and ran into the house to grab my camera. I was worried that the turtle would just make her way back to the pasture. When I got back to the compost, she was gone. I guess she headed back to the pond in the woods behind our house. Once she laid the eggs, her job was done, and she could relax until next year.

I’m so glad that I noticed the snapper before I put the girls out. I can just imagine Siete sticking her curious nose right into that turtle’s face. She could have really gotten hurt. I’m still on the look-out for more turtles since my friends keep telling me about finding them in their gardens or in the middle of the road, stopping traffic. If you happen to run into any snapping turtles, take my advice, don’t try to pick them up with your hands. You can borrow my snow shovel.


Janet Roper said...

Great story, Victoria. My post today is called 'Turtle Talk'. Under 'Turtle Etiquette' I did mention about using a shovel to move a turtle; darn, I didn't think of mentioning a wheelbarrow. I'm going to link to your post as 'Turtle Talk - The Sequel'. ;-)

the7msn said...

You win the award for craziest adventure in a horse corral, hands down! That is too stinkin' funny. But the thought of Siete finding that thing first sends shivers up my spine. So what's going to happen with the turtle eggs?

Callie said...

Crazy, Too bad about the pic. I would have loved to see her. There was a huge snapper truckin' across one of our nearby country roads recently.I was worried about the traffic, but there was no way I was going to try and move it across, even though my British Husband said we should. I said Darling that's a huge snapper, it'll take your hand off and he quickly changed his mind about it...LOL

Mrs Mom said...

Are you going to offer to operate the shovel too? ;) (Just kidding... sorry- I just could not resist that opening..)

Really glad though, that the old girl was out of the way before the ladies of the Manor went out to play. I have seen some interesting wounds over the years, but can not imagine what snapping turtles could do to a horse nose....

Glad the heat has settled down for you up there, and life can cool off some too!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Wow, that sounds like one big turtle. Hope she went back into the pond, but maybe she will make her move under cover of darkness to get to the neighbors yard for Father's Day. It's so funny that she does this every year.Glad no one got hurt.
We used to have two ducks that came the beginning of every Spring and lived in our swimming pool cover before we opened the pool and the weird part was that they first stopped at my sister's house a few towns away and lived in her swimming pool cover. We knew they were the same two ducks because the female had a deformed leg.

Pony Girl said...

How funny you got out the snow shovel with all that hot weather you've been having! ;)
Darn, I'd hoped you were able to "snap" a picture, lol. I did not realize snapping turtles were even indigenous to the U.S. Goes to show you how much I know about turtles. I thought they were from the jungle or something. Regardless, I am glad you were able to get help in removing her, she surely could've posed a threat to your mares!

Esther Garvi said...

I didn't know turtles were so vicious! No wonder my girls were skeptical to the turtles over at Maya's place, but it's a solid African type that gets about a hundred years old and about 1 meter big. The male was too aggressive for them to keep, but the females don't harm anyone...

Transylvanian horseman said...

We don't have these snappers in Europe, so I read up about them. Well, I wouldn't like to meet something that could bite my finger off. However, I would prefer the occasional snapper to a deadly poisonous reptile. It least it's easier to see.

billie said...

Too funny!

My husband rescues turtles that are in the road, so he has figured out a way to pick them up without getting snapped. I have no desire to learn how he does it!

He once brought home a HUGE snapper that he found in the middle of a busy highway and released it in the creek behind our old house. It was so big it couldn't even rest flat in the back seat of the car.

Here's hoping the turtle moves on its way safely!

LJB said...

Glad everyone is safe. Makes me wonder how old that snapper is -- could she have been laying her eggs since before the houses and pastures were there?

I found a non-snapper a few weeks ago, picked it up, put it in a bag and drove it to the pond at our next home. She/he became bold quite quickly and kept trying to climb out of the bag while I was driving. Quite a lovely animal. You may have inspired me to get a picture of it up onto our farm blog, along with pictures of the latest skunks we have re-homed!

There is so much activity in the world of wild life I might never notice if it weren't for
horses. Two days ago I met an unusually colored fox as I went to fetch a horse at the therapeutic riding center where I work. I think I'll go researching, see what I can learn about a fox who is not simply a red fox!

Nor'dzin said...

I had never heard of such a creature. I thought turtles were slow and docile things - I didn't know there were ones that could attack you. Fascinating!

Strawberry Lane said...

Victoria ... now who would imagine!

What an adventure that was for everyone. Glad the horses weren't hurt and that the turtle didn't drag you off to the woods or any other horror movie possibilities. I imagine the turtle is quite happy to be done with this episode, as well.

Just goes to show ... I take a week or so off and you come up with something exciting like this!

Deborah Carr said...

Hey Victoria - I haven't been here in a while, but a marvelous turtle story and a gorgeous photo! I must say that I've never had to worry about vicious ankle-biting turtles in my neck of the woods...but if I do, I now know how to corral them!