Turtle Reds*

It’s high summer and the sun is rising…

…Along with the temperature. Jobs that need doing better get done as early as possible. In the veggie strip at the far back reaches of the property, yellow pear and black cherry tomatoes are melting right off of the vines. Being away from the garden allows the fruits of our labors to get out of hand. Those hands need to get busy and get this mess cleaned up so that fresh new growth can produce fresh newly ripened tomatoes. But wait…

…What, or should it be who is this? Someone is already doing a fine clean up job in the tomato patch, caught in the act, evidence still dripping from their mouth.

Nearly slipping on the sloping gravel paths and tripping on the wobbly rock steps, the camera is fetched from inside the addition. Oh good, our helper is still here, but looking wary of all the noise someone is making.

Oh hey, here is a larger tomato from a volunteer seedling, but it has a big rotten spot. Would you like it?

Uh oh. That was a major turtle manners faux pas, it seems. Our diner is turning to leave, giving us a sideways glare that does not exude gratitude.

Noooo! Don’t go! We are so sorry! But to no avail. The neck is extended, the legs are at full length and there is surprising speed in the escape mode.

They are traveling fast, the camera can barely keep up. They are heading back to the brush pile that has been building for ten years at the property line.

Up, up and away! I did not know turtles could climb! Behind the rusty, falling down fencing that is held up by the stacks of limbs and leavings, our guest will soon disappear.

Going, going,… barely visible so an apple shaped diagram was drawn to help you, dear readers, to discern the whereabouts…gone.

Oh well, back to the task of tomato pruning whilst we ponder this close encounter of the best kind, gentle wildlife, here at the Fairegarden.

August 24, 2009 011 (2)
We remember back to last fall when there was a similar encounter over at the ornamental peach tree, which can be read about by clicking here-Turtle Blues. The above shot from that post shows what we believe to be a different box turtle, a female if eye color is any indication, although the neck, head and legs are black and yellow, unlike our tomato eating friend who sports gray legs, neck and head. According to this site, what we have are two seperate box turtles, a male and a female. Oh joyous day, for do you know what that means?

There could be baby turtles!!! Maybe. Someday. Perhaps. There is plenty of food for a nice family here and lots of fine living accomadations. The mystery of who has been eating the strawberries along the nearby path might also have been solved. Good thing we just tied up the wild and crazy raspberry vines, those are not for sharing, sorry to be greedy but there you go.

*Rather than the beloved Janis Joplin number, this title refers to male turtle eye color, unless there is a song out there with this title that is apropos.


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28 Responses to Turtle Reds*

  1. Edith Hope says:

    Dear Frances, What a fun and amusing sequence of pictures to start the day and, indeed, the weekend. I have much enjoyed this posting!

    Dear Edith, thanks. I am glad you enjoyed this post. Have a wonderful weekend! πŸ™‚

  2. Les says:

    I could certainly think of several less savory characters to share your produce with. Have a good weekend, and may more turtles be in your future.

    Thanks Les. This year we have sort of moved the brush pile back and discovered the most amazing soil underneath. That is where the tomatoes were planted. As we were working on restacking the large branches, there was a tiny bit of fear about what might be discovered. I made a lot of racket to let anyone living in there know that too! πŸ™‚

  3. Little Wing says:

    So nice to know I’m not the only one with a growing pileβ™₯ I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing a resident turtle. Beautiful post!

    Hi Little Wing, thanks so much. We have piles all around the perimeter of the property. There are always limbs falling off mature pines and prunings that are too large for the compost as well as weeds that we don’t want to put in there. The soil under the piles is like pure gardener’s gold! Try and scoop a little for yourself! πŸ™‚

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    How exciting to have your turtles in the garden. That red eye was watching you. I hope you have pictures of little ones in the future.

    Thanks Lisa. Oh, if I ever happen upon baby turtles, I will die from happiness! Or maybe just be overcome with happiness, as the camera is fetched. πŸ™‚

  5. gardeningasylum says:

    Great shots! I’m never patient enough to get such nice animal shots – love yours with the tomatoes. If there are babies I think you’ll find them:)

    Hi Cyndy, thanks. I find it to be more luck than anything. If I see an animal, I run for the camera and hope for the best. Turtles, even at their highest speed, are still sorta slow. I do hope for babies, how cute would they be! πŸ™‚

  6. I’m sure your turtle will return and probably bring along friends and family with such delicious fruits for the taking! Cute post!

    Hi Cameron thanks. I do hope they return, we have been looking for them but nothing so far. I did see a turtle kind of buried in the soil by the peach tree this year, but only one time and never since. The peaches have not fallen to the ground yet. Last year it was in September so I will keep looking. There are tons of strawberries growing in the landscape fabric in the paths by the veggie bed. They can run out of the brush pile, grab a bite, then run back to cover. I see bites in all the fruits. We do hope for family visits! πŸ™‚

  7. Kate says:

    How fun to see such a turtle among the garden. Adorable post today!

    Hi Kate, thanks. It was quite exciting to see the turtle, even if he did give me the evil eye! Glad you enjoyed the post. πŸ™‚

  8. commonweeder says:

    Great photos. It’s nice to have slow moving wildlife in the garden. We have a big brushpile near the nouse, and others out in the field as w ell as general multiflora tangles but the wildlife they attract, like ruffed grouse, move too fast to capture.

    Hi Pat, thanks. Wow, grouse would be great, even if too fast to get a photo! Lucky you! We have that multiflora rose tangle as well as wild grapevines, makes for good habitat and lots of food, even if they are a problem in the garden. πŸ™‚

  9. Jenny B says:

    What a great post! If that Turtle could teach us anything, it would be how to glare at rude gardeners who interupt breakfast! What an amazing red-eyed stare! I do hope you find little babies around. It’s nice to know someone else has a wood pile–I cannot bear to send mine to the land fill. I keep thinking I will make arbors and trellises with them, but so far, have not had the energy or a burst of creativity to do so.

    Hi Jenny, thanks, you are too sweet! It was quite a glare! I have a stash of cool branches under the deck where it is dry. Every now and then I add them to the brush pile to rot down as new prospects are found. We both need that burst of creative energy, it seems. I am more likely to do it on a warmer day in winter when there is no gardening to be done. πŸ™‚

  10. Gail says:

    Dear Frances, I love box turtles and have since I was a little girl and my grandma Ruth introduced me to Oscar! I thought he was decades old, but my mom disabused me of that notion. Grandma had many over the years and they were all named Oscar! Wonderful photos and I love your drawing of the missing fruit! gailxxoo

    Dear Gail, thanks for the delightful Oscar story! And thanks too for the kind words. Glad you liked the post. Maybe someday you will see these turtles for yourself when you visit. It is always a thrill. πŸ™‚

  11. chickenpoet says:

    A lucky turtle/turtle family to reside at Fairegarden.

    Oooh, thanks Chickenpoet, so nice to see you here. I do hope there is a happy family unit somewhere on the premises, even if we never get to see them! πŸ™‚

  12. Anna says:

    Well it’s only fair to share nature’s bounty Frances but I can understand you drawing the line at the raspberries. What a delightful creature and how exciting that there may be babes on the horizon. Glad to hear that you have sunshine – a commodity in short supply here πŸ™‚

    Hi Anna, thanks for understanding about the raspberries. There is so much here for the wildlife, and we humans are somewhat picky eaters in comparison. The raspberries are quite dear. Sunshine we got, we’ll trade you for some rain, gladly. πŸ™‚

  13. You made me laugh with that one Frances. I especially love your drawing of the turtle as he or she sped away. Congrats on the raspberries. I’ve never had much luck with them, but I’m willing to give them another try.~~Dee

    Hi Dee, thanks for that. I love the thought of you laughing! I didn’t think people could tell where the turtle was in the photo and had to help out. lol Do try the raspberries again. I highly recommend Anne and Caroline. They are much better than all the rest! πŸ™‚

  14. Linda says:

    Love the turtle pictures, they are so cool even if they do eat some of the produce. I had a very large turtle in the garden last year that seemed settled under the porch, but no signs this year. Too bad, I liked the fellow!

    Hi Linda, thanks. Your turtle may still be around. I have found the same one all over the garden at different times and different years. I know it is the same one because I took pictures of his shell which is like a human fingerprint, no two alike. Perhaps your fellow needed a change of scenery! πŸ™‚

  15. Great post – nice big pictures too! Lovely blog…

    Hi Heather, thanks. Glad you enjoyed it.

  16. What a great helper you have there Frances! Terrific photos of your visitor. He or she is certainly well fed. Strawberries and tomatoes… yummy. Hopefully a family of turtles will still leave you some food.

    Hi Carol, thanks. The critters here are most certainly well fed! The strawberries in particular have not been enjoyed by humans for a couple of years. I am working on that. πŸ™‚

  17. Town Mouse says:

    Very cool! I must admit I’ve lusted after a turtle myself, and even considered turtle rescue, but it seems they require a lawn before they’ll give you a rescue animal, so alas, it is not to be.

    What a fun post!

    Hi Town Mouse, thanks. Must have a lawn for a turtle rescue? Huhhhh? Complete with chemicals on it, I wonder? Maybe someday one will stumble upon your native paradise. πŸ™‚

  18. Jake says:

    Very cool! I love turtles, any kind really.


    Hi Jake, thanks. The turtles are amazing creatures, with those shells and glaring eyes! πŸ™‚

  19. Laurie says:

    My brush with Nature this week was an encounter with a black snake that was sunning him/herself right by the back door. Cooper did a huge double take and Ellie went rigid with alarm. (Me, too, at first!)

    Hi Laurie, thanks for visiting! Whoa to the snake! I would have slammed the door shut and stayed inside the rest of the day. That is not the kind of nature we want to see around here. πŸ™‚

  20. You are so lucky to have turtles in your garden! We have them at The Havens too. Have you seen this post? YOu should take a look, I did get baby turtles from my box turtles. . . http://healingmagichands.wordpress.com/2008/08/09/camera-critters-18/

    I love my box turtles, but I’m not sure I would encourage them to eat my tomatoes, even dead falls. They are perfectly capable of eating tomatoes on the vine that are within their reach and there is NOTHING they like better than melons and strawberries. . . which is why we built the strawberry bed that we did at The Havens. And their love of melons is why we have the fence around the vegetable garden that we have. Well, them and the rabbits and the deer. . .

    What a great series of pictures.

    Hi Hands, thanks so much. Gosh, your turtle photos made me blush! We don’t mind the critters eating the fallen tomatoes, there are hundreds on the vines, just the little salad ones that always produce way more than we can eat. As for the strawberries, we have given those over to the wildlife and made a new bed with seed grown wild strawberries for the humans that will be fenced. We don’t grow melons, leaving that to the farmer’s market. How sweet that babies were the result, as it was meant to be. πŸ™‚

  21. sequoiagardens says:

    In Africa tortoises have hard shells and turtles have ‘soft’ shells and live mostly in water – yours seems more like our tortoises however. How exciting! And amazing that they are so similar across the world! I would be very excited to find a tortoise (or a turtle!) in my garden – here the tortoises seem to prefer dryer environs than my damp mountain and I’ve never seen turtles in our cold waters…

    Hi Jack , thanks for adding to the conversation! Our box turtles have hard shells and seem to hang out in the shadier spots of the garden with some cover. It is amazing that we have similar creatures being so far apart. Cool. πŸ™‚

  22. ellada says:

    Very funny the story with the turtle, it’s so beautiful.

    Hi Ellada, thanks so much. You are sweet to say so πŸ™‚

  23. Tatyana says:

    Oh, I would love to have such guest in my garden! When we lived in Missouri near the little lake, we used to watch mama-turtles climbing a green hill in front of our house. Some time later, we watched tiny baby-turtles heading to the lake. Then, the houses were built on the hill, and the show ended… Thank you Frances for this wonderful, funny post!

    Forgot to say – I wish we had so many tomatoes. With this cool, late summer, I am not sure we’ll have any. Congratulations on your raspberries, too!

    Hi Tatyana, thanks so much. We hold those raspberries quite dear! And the turtles. How fun to see babies, I hope to someday see some as well. The small tomatoes are much easier to grow here, they can withstand the drought much better than the larger ones. We get those at the farmer’s market. Missouri by a lake sounds perfect, BTW. I was born and raised in NE Oklahoma, in the same region. πŸ™‚

  24. How cool! I love the turtle, even if it means you have to share tomatoes with it. Great shots of your garden guest.

    Thanks MMD. Those tomatoes are the rotten ones that fell to the ground, nothing taken from our table. We are happy to share, just not the raspberries, unless they are rotten, then all critters welcome. We are so picky. πŸ™‚

  25. Rosey says:

    Hi Frances,
    My heck he is scarfing down your tomatoes like there is no tomorrow. I have NEVER had one of these guys in my garden. Mostly my visitors consist of chipmunks and mice.
    I wouldn’t share my berries with any thing either.

    Hi Rosey, thanks for stopping by. He was enjoying the tomatoes, it was gratifying to see. We rarely see them here, the turtles keep hidden most of the time, but I will stumble upon them a few times a year. So fun to see them and I usually get the camera to record the event, even before blogging. πŸ™‚

  26. Very cute. Opportunists! It’s suprising how quick they can shift when needs be.

    Thanks Rob. He was in high gear after I made the error of offering him the large tomato! I could barely keep up and click at the same time! πŸ™‚

  27. Rose says:

    Glad I didn’t miss this post, Frances:) I’m picturing you following that turtle all around the garden with your camera:) My neighbor, who lives next to a creek, actually had a big turtle come up into their yard and lay eggs earlier this summer, so who knows–you might have some new tenants yet.

    Hi Rose, I am glad you didn’t miss it either, thanks for taking the time to do so. That turtle was high-tailin’ it out of Dodge after I offered the large tomato so nicely, I thought. How fun to find turtle eggs. I do hope we will have babies at some point, if we don’t already. πŸ™‚

  28. Pingback: A Tale Of Two Turtles « Fairegarden

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