Sunday, June 28, 2009

Turtle Time

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.

15 comments:

Kate said...

What a cool turtle! Is that a small snapper?

billie said...

I'm sad to hear about the old matriarch turtle... :/

My husband called home in total distress a week or so ago - he'd stopped to rescue his third turtle of the morning and a pick-up truck drove by and veered intentionally to hit and kill the turtle my husband was waiting to rescue.

detroit dog said...

So sad that some people just refuse to care -- even minimally -- about another creature's life.

Thank you for caring, Victoria.

deejbrown said...

Two weeks ago, I reported an abuse situation that involved captive turtles and snakes. Seems people do not think them worthy & write them off as if they were so many rocks.
I join you in your mourning of this ancient creature. May her offspring live long and prosper (and survive human beings).

marymartha said...

Blessings on you for saving the wee turtle (perhaps a grandturtle of the matriarch?)
Not only do I always stop and move turtles, but I also pray for the dead possums, I am a bit of a nut I suppose...
Peace to you and yours.

the7msn said...

I remember your post about the snapping turtle-snow shovel incident. How tragic for the whole neighborhood that she met such an untimely end.

Bill Evertson said...

We have a large swamp/wetland area at the bottom of our hill that is the site of springtime turtle drama. A busy road cuts the wetland in two and this time of year there is always some crazy person trying to block both lanes while coaxing a turtle to move a bit faster. Last week some wild haired woman was waving frantically and taking abuse from people late for work. I had to laugh because just the day before I was that crazy turtle person.

Spartacus Jones said...

Good rescue.

I think there's something fundamentally wrong with the way we're doing things, if we have to go so fast we routinely kill.

It's not good to kill so casually. Hardens the heart and dulls the spirit.
Bad idea.

Good rescue. Well done.

sj

John and Regina Zdravich said...

Oh my gosh -- so sad about the big, old turtle!!! But rescuing this new, little one is the universe's way of balancing it out.....cool how that happens!

Strawberry Lane said...

Ohhhhh... how sad.

Glad you are among those that care! Wish there were more.

Pony Girl said...

It is so unusual and cool to read about wild turtles...I don't think they are common around here, I'm sure most of the ones that might habitate a pond were pets that were released. I am sorry to hear about the old turtle's passing, I got a little teary reading that. You are a sweetheart for saving the little turtle who wanted to live like a pony for a day! ;)

Grey Horse Matters said...

It's a shame the old girl met such an untimely end. I recently stopped for a turtle and let it cross the street. It was a pretty good size one and took forever to get to the other side, but she/he finally made it safely. Glad the little one is okay.

Janet Roper said...

You are a great benefactor to Turtles. Thanks for the care you give them!
Harmony,
Janet

Grey Horse Matters said...

p.s. hope you had a great 4th of July, stop by my blog when you get the chance and pick up an award.

Amy said...

i love, love, love that your neighborhood watched out for and cared for the turtle. here in chicago one of my neighbors kids would have jumped up and down on it and tortured while their parents laughed and took pictures. and im serious. love your blog and your stories.