Sunday, June 20, 2010

Turtle update

It was kind of a cold spring so the turtles didn't get to spend a full day outdoors until late May. It took a while for the weather to warm up which means it took a while for the turtles to warm up too since they're cold-blooded. And now that they and the weather are a nice consistent warm temperature, those turtles have been busy.

This is the routine for their outdoor living...

I serve them breakfast and they give me mean, mean looks because I am not supposed to step into the area where they sleep at night and where they spend most of their time. That spot behind the deck is theirs, theirs alone. No humans allowed. They don't understand that I just don't get it which is the reason for this staredown...

And then a slow move to cover up the food that I just served because that food is theirs. Theirs!

And they're not going to pose for any darn pictures either.

So what I usually do is serve them their breakfast and then get the heck out. Sometimes I like to try and watch them eat from what I think is a hidden spot on the deck above them but they're familiar with that ruse of mine. Once they catch sight of me, back in their shells they go with a WHOOSH as they expel all the air from their lungs or air sacs or whatever they use to breathe so they can get inside as far as they can. And when I leave, that's when they come out and eat.

Now, the interesting thing is things between us are a little smoother when they're not in sight of their beloved Kerria shrub. Between that shrub and the fence is the prime square foot of the entire backyard. The twins fight over this spot all summer long. Sometimes Cathy will not leave it for days because the strategy to recover that spot from Michael might take weeks. That is the summer routine for those two.

Last week I saw the two of them taking in the morning sun and all I had to do was drop their breakfast plates in front of them and run. They didn't have to move a half inch to start eating and I know they appreciate that.

They're now both giving me the "Go away" look. At least I've been acknowledged (can't ask for more than that from those two I guess).

Michael is especially good at that look.

Another routine (but it only happens in spring) is to take down the peonies. The day they get warmed up enough, they start pacing back and forth against the fence....just the 10 foot length where the peonies try to grow. In less than an hour, the peonies will be flattened, shredded, and composted, like they had never been there.

Michael Ray is mainly responsible for this destructive pacing but Cathy Jean is usually not far behind because she supports her brother's shenanigans 100%. But sometimes she needs to take a break and spends a couple days away from him counting to ten in some other part of the backyard. Eventually she forgives him and goes looking for her brother because she loves him but I can't say Michael thinks the same about her.

Well, those peonies you see in the above two photos are now gone as of last week. But for the first time ever, someone discovered something new to take down in the backyard. He actually marched across the backyard to make sure I saw what he had done because he was proud. PROUD. Michael had discovered sedum (I think that's a bit of clover left on his face however).

He had to take a detour through the phlox...well, he didn't, but plowing through rather than walking around has always been a Michael Ray trait.

A pot of sedum had been waiting to be planted but Michael Ray found it, overturned it, and then bit and stomped on what he could get at. There was another sedum lost somewhere within all this year's volunteer phlox and Michael Ray found that too. I think there is one stalk left.

Finding more pots of sedum (and I do have a lot now that I've been collecting it for that future rock garden) will be this summer's mission for Michael Ray. I just have a feeling.

If only sedum could WHOOSH and hide away inside itself like a turtle.

That all adds up to a lot of potential drama for this summer but wait, there's more (can you stand it???).

My neighbor recently got married and when his bride moved in, she brought four dogs with her. Four. Having a pacing turtle sharing the other side of their fence has got to be some special hell for them. Here's a digging hole one of them has started. I've been watching it get bigger so I've had to place a big potted plant in front of it.

That hasn't stopped Michael from trying to provoke those dogs though. Yes. I've watched him. A dog starts barking in his general area and then he walks right up as close as he can get to the dog that is furiously digging to get at him and just gives him a big long staredown. It is obvious to me AND my neighbor that my turtle really enjoys all this aggravation he is causing.

This is setting up to be the best summer ever for Michael Ray. Here's a smug photo of Michael with tomato and strawberry and part of a pea on his face...probably something that also drives those dogs crazy.

Bad. Baaaaaaaad. But you know, if I didn't have bad animals, I wouldn't have anything to write about.


Eve said...

Ok Michael Ray...lay off the Phlox!!!! Literally!!!

Maria said...

Eve-I KNOW. Isn't he awful? There's now an intersection running through the phlox because Michael Ray felt compelled to go at from another direction.

Mental P Mama said...

LOL. I would pay money to watch these two!

Maureen said...

Yes, a video please!

Sandra said...

The turtles can be quite expressive, who would have thought! One of mine shows love when I come out as she hopes I bring food...every time I come out. The other one couldn't care less and prefers her (his?) food right in front of him...he is not a walker. I loved this post... not many people write about turtles:))

Leenie said...

Hehe. Fun post. I've missed the turtle stories during the winter. Gardening with turtles certainly sounds like a challenge. But it also sounds like they remove a lot of plants so you have less to worry about.

Maria said...

Mental and Maureen-I'll see what I can do. I came home today to find Cathy exiting what looks like a 2 lane turtle highway that now runs through the center of the phlox. She was looking pretty proud of herself too. Whatever Michael learns to do, she learns to do it one day later. Those two have spent their summers in the backyard since I moved to this house.....around 18 years ago? In all that time, only once did Michael find the pond and then jump in it. The next day, I found Cathy floating in the middle of the pond. Good thing turtles float (!!!!). It was very surprising to find them in the pond because they both had to work hard to figure out a way to get in there. It involved some climbing and pivoting. Gawd.

Sandra-You have turtles too? Did you mention that before? What kind? I laughed at your comment about not many people writing about turtles. You know, I guess that's true. I never thought about it before. hahaha

Leenie. Yes. A challenge. Yes. Lots of plant removal over the years. That's how my entire backyard became a container only garden. And now they've learned to overturn the pots.....errrgh.

Linda said...

Are these turtles growing? I don't remember them being this large. I really like pictures of your turtles, birds and animals.

Rural Rambler said...

Michael noooooo!!!! Not the sedum! Hey Maria I thought Stellafullahella was the only baaaaaad beastie in your family but now, well, I don't know :) Maria if they wanted to warm up they gotta be lovin this ShoMe summer. Ugh the humidity. Halp. Such SWEET turt faces :) I just want to take a Michael sized wash cloth and wash that little face off! I know, I know!

Maria said...

LInda-Oh oh. I'm used to seeing them every day so I wouldn't notice something like that. I just looked at the photos and was going to comment on how the flower pots were small which would make them look big.....but then whisky barrels only come in one size. Oh dear. I think you might be right. Oh dear.......

Pix-Stella is the worst indoors, Michael is the worst outdoors. On the same turf, I'm not sure who would outdo who in the bad department. Good thing the two of them don't spend much time together.

Since it's been in the 90s the turtles have been really active. They don't like the humidity though. I'm with them on that one. Michael's been seeking me out to get a hosedown when he sees me in the backyard. He hates water but on really hot days he likes to have his shell blasted with cold hose water.

That's funny about taking a little washcloth to his dirty face. Good luck trying. I know exactly what he'd do when he'd see you coming. A Whooooosh back into his shell.