Thursday, May 26, 2011

operation turtle

One of the projects I am picking away at right now is installing lamb-proof fence on our middle pasture. It is temporarily derailed by the fact that our local Tractor Supply has run out of the fence. I hope to have pictures of the finished project up soon, once they replenish their stock.

When I went out to feed a few days ago, Dusty pointed out that I had also inadvertantly turtle-proofed the pasture. A snapping turtle was stuck on one side of the fence, and a trail of flattened grass showed that he/she had tried with no luck to find a way to the other side.

We get snappers in our yard every year around this time. Usually the pattern is: Dusty finds one; I run and get the camera; the turtle is long gone by the time I return. This one seemed a little tuckered out, because I checked on it for the next hour and it was still in the same spot, so I decided it needed some help.

Every snapping turtle that I have ever seen around here has been headed in an easterly sort of direction, which means that it has to cross a fairly busy county road with a 50 mph speed limit. Two years ago a HUGE snapping turtle was fatally struck. This one would escape that fate, thanks to my help.

You see where this is going, right?

Got it into a trash can; surprisingly, it didn't take that much persuading.

Loaded it onto its chariot.

Freed it on the other side of the county road.

It immediately decided it wanted to cross the other way, back toward our farm. I convinced it that it was just a little confused by the ride, it needed to take time and check its bearings and then it would realize that I had done it a huge favor by shortening its journey.

It agreed and headed off for far horizons. Patted myself on the back and drove off.

Luckily, I doubled back just to check... and found it trying to cross the county road again. It was a very determined turtle.

Back into the trashcan so I could carry it safely to the other side, praying that no one was watching the crazy lady with the turtle in the trashcan (and that sucker was HEAVY). Note how the turtle is hightailing it away from me, doing everything in its power to avoid another trip in the trashcan.

Drove off again, doubled back again; turtle was still heading toward our farm. Checked for the turtle on the road the rest of the day.

Actually saw it near nightfall, trying to cross the local road in front of our farm. Convinced it to think twice and turn back toward safety.

Can only imagine its turtle thoughts.

Haven't seen it since. Hoping that he/she made it to wherever destination it was headed for in the first place, with absolutely no interference assistance from me.


  1. Judging from our experience with turtles, they are hard-wired to go where they need to go, and I guess we can only try to point them in another direction! It hasn't worked for us yet, however.

  2. Gary found a turtle in the road in Va. He captured it, put it our new pond, built it a floating log habitat and it was gone the next day.

    While he was back in Jersey, he found another, a female, put her in a plastic tote, fed her earthworms for a few days, and transported her to Va. She loves the pond. Maybe it was the prospect of walking back to NJ.