Tag Archives: Turtles are cool!

Remember Gordon?

Last year, I had a brief but special relationship with Gordon, the girl turtle.  She was a beauty and came to live with us for a time at our house.  I had picked her up at the deluxe deer stand and always wanted a pet turtle.  After I read about the plight of turtles in captivity, I returned her to the wild figuring I would never see her again…but at least she would be free and able to breed, live, do what turtles do.

Ming the Turtle
Ming the Turtle

Last weekend, I was weed-eating around the bee yard when I grazed across the top of the weirdest looking rock I had ever seen.  I bent down and saw a turtle shell buried in the grass.  I didn’t bury him/her in clippings…the turtle was actually down in the grass and seem to have been that way for a little while at least.  Anyhow, I figured it was an empty shell so when I picked it up and a turtle peeked back at me, I was delighted!  “Gordon!” I screamed.  Of course, the turtle retreated back into the shell and I nearly dropped him as well.  After I settled, I realized this wasn’t Gordon, but was almost assuredly kin to Gordon…or maybe her beau.

This Turtle, who I named Ming, is a boy I think and was pretty good size!  I was so happy that the turtle population at the farm is still apparently alive and well and that my girl-turtle Gordon may be responsible for at least some of that!

Gordon the girl turtle

I caught a swarm of bees a few weeks ago.  A swarm is usually a lot smaller in number than a full sized hive and they are often a little weaker and disoriented so I usually try to keep them separate from the bee yard for awhile until they get themselves together.  By consulting the bee gods, I determined that this weekend was the weekend to move the swarm to the bee yard in the country.  I usually catch swarms in a smaller “nuc box” which is easier to manage and seems to be better for the smaller swarm too.  As I transferred the swarm to a full sized hive, I found the queen and did a general “once over” of the colony.  They looked great so I called the move a success and started on some other clean-up tasks in the apiary.

Eastern Box Turtle Eastern Box Turtle

Turtles are master hiders

We have had some serious winds lately so a pile of junk had toppled over.  While I was suited up, I decided to work on that a little too.  As I started to gather things up, I noticed a small turtle hiding out under some stuff.  Friends, I have always wanted a pet turtle.  I don’t know why but I am fascinated by them and they are just cool to watch.  I stop on the road to get them to safety, almost every time I see one.  They are fascinating and I am curious so it’s a good match.  I had to check out this turtle that was right before me…he was in my bee yard after all!  This turtle had a crack in its shell but did not seem to be bothered by it.  Still, being a turtle sympathizer and seeing an opportunity for a pet turtle, I picked him up.

Eastern Box Turtle

Like all kids, I heard the story of the tortoise and the hare.  Of course, I know this was a box turtle and not a tortoise but my turtle was more hare-like than I expected.  He paddled and squirmed and when I set him down, he moved quite well.  I wanted to call him Flash, like the speedy super-hero.  Of course, we already have a cat named Flash, like the super-hero, so I knew that wouldn’t work.  I decided, instead, to name him Gordon, like the super-hero’s last name.

Eastern Box Turtle

That crack in his shell worried me…

I got permission from Emily and I was all prepared to have a new pet turtle.  I did a little reading on pet turtles and found out that it’s probably not cool to grab turtles from the wild as the breeding range is fairly limited and though momma turtles lay hundreds of eggs in their lifetimes, only 2-3 survive to adulthood.  Taking potential breeders out of the area can really mess with turtle populations and I want lots of turtles at the cabin.  Turtles in captivity also are very susceptible to dry-eyes and other ailments including nutritional issues and pneumonia.  I didn’t know it but turtles need calcium and all sorts of other minerals and they need light but not too much heat, but not too little heat either.  They need to roam some and dig some and…well, it seemed like more than I expected to keep a pet turtle.  With enough work (translate: money and time), some folks are able to manage keeping turtles in captivity but I don’t want to hurt the local turtle population and I certainly don’t want to have to work at it.

Eastern Box Turtle eating a raspberry

Turtle eating a raspberry

Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is that, in my reading, I determined Gordon is a girl.  Sexing a turtle is an interesting process.  They don’t like for people to peek inside their shells so…aw shucks, just kidding…it is easy.  Boy box turtles have red eyes, girl turtles have orange eyes.  Gordon definitely has orange eyes.  So, next weekend, I will return Gordon the girl turtle to where I found her so she can breed (if she is so inclined.  I like to think I raised her as  liberated turtle who doesn’t cave to societal norms) and keep moist eyes and eat all the slugs she wants.  If anyone asks, I once had a pet turtle though and her name was Gordon and she made me very happy!