The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Saving box turtles from pastures

Captured box turtleNo, we're not branching out by using our chicken waterers with box turtles.  This shelled friend showed up in our broiler isolation pen Wednesday, and I figured I'd snap a shot before giving him free run of the garden once again.

The reason I think the sighting merits a post is because this is at least the sixth time this year that Mark and I have moved box turtles out of temporary and permanent pastures.  I had been hypothesizing that the turtles were simply hibernating within the fenced areas when I erected the cattle panels or plastic trellis, but since we only made our broiler isolation pen a couple of weeks ago, I now suspect the turtles are pushing under the fences to go where they want to go.

And they're all different turtles too, showing how high our box turtle population must be.  Mark turned up an adorable four-year-old while ripping grape vines out of a new pasture, the hefty boy above is quite colorful, and I seem to recall that the turtle I relocated before him was a more drab (and slightly smaller) female.

Watering the garden
In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I even rescued a box turtle last month that was being swept down the creek, unable to paddle to shore because the current was too strong.  And then there was that box turtle I stumbled across in the barn, who was eating spilled food beside the barn cat's dish.

Where am I going with this post?  I don't know!  But the fact that I consider box turtles my totem animal would give these sightings much more significance if they occurred in the dream world.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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How lucky for you (and for them to be living with you)! The number you've seen gives me hope for these wonderful creatures who have been decimated over the years. The research here in Pennsylvania has posited that there is not now the population density to continue the species.
Comment by Julie Mason Thu Jun 19 08:50:38 2014
Don't be so quick to dismiss messages from the turtles just because you aren't dreaming! If The Universe (or God, or whoever, I don't judge) can send you messages at all, why does it have to be in dreams? Also, there's synchronicity, has always fascinated me. :) Jung invented the term, and other writers have ran with it.
Comment by Emily from Bristol Thu Jun 19 09:42:16 2014
It was discovered years ago by an amateur naturalist that box turtles travel the same migratory route each year. So if in the past that turtle walked through is what now your pasture, it will take that path every year. If you erect a fence, it will try to go over, under, or possibly around in order to continue on it's route. Just thought you'd like to know,
Comment by Su Thu Jun 19 12:34:29 2014

Great comments on this post!

Julie --- That's so sad to hear! Our farm does seem to be one of the rare pockets of perfect turtle habitat, with absolutely no chemical use, no cars to run them over, and few walls to their movement (other than my fences). Plus, there are all those strawberries and slugs in my garden.... I hope turtle pockets like ours continue to do well!

Emily --- Mark's a big fan of synchronicity too. In a dream, the message would be all about me (and probably would mean I was feeling fenced in or something). But I wonder if in this case the message might not really be about the turtles instead, related to Julie's comment?

Su --- Interesting! I know that deer have their highway (which I left unfenced for their enjoyment) and it's fascinating to hear the turtles do too. I've been seeing these fenced in turtles in all different areas, though, not just in the new pastures, so I'm not sure the highway hypothesis would explain what I'm seeing. I'm currently thinking the turtles might just be more visible than usual since it's nesting season --- I saw one laying eggs yesterday evening and another a couple of weeks before that.

Comment by anna Thu Jun 19 13:57:30 2014

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