I had the feed buckets in my hand as I approached the corral this evening. Silk and Siete were both conferring in Siete’s stall. Suddenly, something moved in the mud outside Silk’s open door. It was a turtle. I quickly closed Siete’s stall door and threw in a flake of hay to occupy the girls. If I hadn’t, Silk would have charged out of the barn as soon as she saw the feed buckets and run over the turtle. Of course, curious Miss Siete was craning her neck over the top of the door to see what kind of creature this was.
By the time I managed to reach the turtle, it had already crawled into Silk’s stall, in direct line to be trampled by a horse who was ready for her dinner. I grabbed a small shovel and hoisted my new little friend out of the shavings. The turtle looked pretty startled to be sitting in the grass a few seconds later. I gave it some bits of carrot and a little bowl of water and went back to the horses.
Once dinner was served in the barn, and the horses were settled for the night, I went back to check on my little buddy. The carrots and water were gone and so was the turtle. I felt so relieved. I had redeemed my good turtle karma. Several weeks ago, our neighborhood was the scene of a terrible tragedy. There was a famous, very big, very old snapping turtle who would appear every June, making her rounds from yard to yard to find the perfect spot to lay her eggs. Last year, she picked our pasture. My neighbor and I had to use two snow shovels to lift the snapper who was as big as a dinner plate and carry her to safety. It took some doing since she kept grabbing the shovel and knocking it out of my neighbor’s hands. This was a strong turtle with a neck as big as a soda can. My neighbor remembered her from his childhood and estimated the turtle was about 40 years old.
This year, as usual, we had all been waiting for the turtle to show up. I drove home one morning in a torrential thunderstorm and saw the big snapping mama in the middle of the road just past my driveway. My neighbor was waiting for the school bus with his kids at the end of his drive sitting in his car. I pulled in and ran into the house to grab a raincoat and the snow shovels so we could move the turtle. The school bus came barreling down the road and hit it before I got there. It was horrible. All the neighbors came out and some were weeping. I’ve been haunted by the turtle’s death, feeling guilty that I didn’t stop my car, forget about the raincoat and just block the road. Tonight, saving the my little friend from more turtle carnage, I could actually feel that the big snapper mama’s spirit was pleased.