In the mean time, I'm selling off things, giving things away to friends, neighbors, relatives and finding homes for my 30 something turtles. I knew that the western box turtles would have a really hard time weathering NC weather and so, I had by that Thursday found homes for all of my turtles. I don't know if I was more upset about not getting to move to be near the grands or having given away all my turtle babies here.
We listened to the universe, I mean how could you not with that much emphasis in the message. We regrouped and made the best of a very confusing situation. I was kinda mopey cuz I had given turtles away that I had had for more than 20 years. It was very hard but.............later that summer, I was watering in the backyard and out come these cutie pies from behind the shed and shrubs....7 in all. I guess I didnt' know just how many offspring were in the yard. I had never met some of these turtles, and others were ones I thought had not made it through being little turtles. The mortality rate is high even if they are in a semi controlled environment. Birds, cats, summer hail storms and water are real enemies to small turtles. Most folks think that box turtles can swim. Well they move their legs but go nowhere but down to the bottom of whatever holds the water. I have water basins for them that are only 2" deep and have sloped sides. Ponds are a death sentence to the little ones. So are husbands who don't look under lawnmowers before starting them...that's how Big Guy was lost. Boo Hoo...
Anyway, I am again in the midst of building another community of the sweet hard shelled darlings.
One of my adopting families understood how important my turtles were to me and surprised me by returning a lovely pair of adult turtles, Pig and Queen. It was like a Christmas morning. Whooooo Hooooo. We now have babies from this pair and those are the three in the picture.
from l to r stinky, orion, Daddy's girl
(and yes, I can tell who is who)
We had several "Oklahoma" box turtles, they are more golden and have higher shells than the western box turtles. And I must say they are less interesting in their behavior, mostly because they are more secluded in their behavior. I would sometimes go weeks without seeing them. But the Marlena Deitrich of the turtle kindgom was our 9 pound 12" x 8" x 4" high, some kind of turtle that I have no idea what she was. She had eyes like a frog, round bulbous, beautiful peridot green. Yellow bottom shell (carapace) and brown with darker brown growth rings top shell and her skin was greeny like lichens. We had purchased a pair from a pet shop, they said they were Louisiana dirt turtles, yeah and I'm Marilyn Monroe's twin sister. But I have never seen another like her. She is living happily at a dear friends yard as one of only 3 turtles. Her name is Hidin' Seek, cuz we only saw her 2 maybe three times a season. You'd think something that big would be obvious but nope, she was our stealth turtle.
The reason I brought up the "Okie" turtles is because I had a life changing moment in the presence of a female okie. I found Thelma (you know of Thelma and Louise fame. We bought them at the same time, 2 females and a male whom we named Brad, duh) and she had begun to dig a horizontal hole, not vertical. It was strange, she didn't even seem to me to notice that I was there.....well later, I came to know, she didn't know because she was like all of her species in her trance (like sea turtles). She dug first with her front feet and then she turned and excavated the loose dirt with her back legs. This went on for two hours. I came and went during this time and still she prepared her nest. I laid on my stomache and watched her complete the hole, and then lay 4 perfectly gorgeous, cream colored eggs. With each egg deposit she closed her eyes, pushed and tears (liquid) came from her eyes. After the fourth egg, she rested for a bit and then proceeded to cover the nest and flatten it with her body by literally slamming herself onto the ground so as to camoflage the spot. She rested for a bit longer and then moved on into the bushes. At that time I changed her name to Beauty. The Navajo have a saying that each of us should walk in Beauty and she had indeed.
The whole act was almost 8 hours in the making. It was magickal. In September 2 when her eggs hatched I watched as the ground mounded up, and then these little heads poked very gently out of the dirt. They of course had hatched at least a week earlier if not longer. Sometimes the baby turtles over winter in the nest and don't come out until the following spring. But if they do come out shortly after they hatch, they have egg cords still attached. Sorta like turtle belly buttons. They last for the first season of their lives. Little round marks in the middle of their tummies. And the shells are so soft and delicate when they are first hatched. It is scary to even try to hold them. Your so afraid to squash them.
Mother nature is so wise and wonderful and I was truly blessed that day with an awesome and unique experience. It had such raw beauty and power.