From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

They Get a Bad Rap

As I was working outside one day at the ranch, I saw something I had never seen before, and will probably never in my lifetime see firsthand again. Of course I remember having seen something close on the Discover Channel, but never in person. We have red ear turtles that live in our pond, at first there was one, then gradually he began having friends over and they just moved in permanently... Now we have dozens. When I feed the catfish their morning cat food, (that is a story in and of itself,) they see or hear me coming and dive off the bank and the logs they are sunning on, swimming as fast as turtles can, which contrary to their reputation, (due to gossiping rabbits,) is pretty fast. They love dried cat food, it floats on the top of the water, making it easy for them to eat.

As I was walking down the road to the last cabin I saw the largest turtle sitting there, I felt she was too far away from the pond. I thought she might have been trying to make a break for it after deciding the pond was just too crowded for her now. When I went to pick her up as I usually do, to gently discourage her moving, (that is a hard cruel world out there, and she has led a very sheltered life, never having to dodge cars etc.,) she hissed at me, raised up on her short little legs as high as she could and made it quite obvious she wasn't going anywhere with me. This represented a huge change in her behavior. I tried to walk behind her so I could pick her up dogging her snapping jaws. She circled to keep me in view without moving from where she was. Now this was really unusual behavior. Then I glimpsed the hole beneath her, managed to pick her up and saw several eggs in the hole. I made my apologies, sat her back down, and right there in front of the whole ranch she laid two more eggs. I watched them drop in the hole on top of the others. She then took a large ball of mud she had assembled, pushed it over the hole and mashed it down flat plugging the door to the turtle nursery. She smiled at me, (don't give me that, I know a turtle smile when I see one,) and went hurrying back to the pond, and slipped into the water.

Apparently that is the extent of her mothering responsibilities... I looked it up.  Man, turtles have it easy. We human mothers can tell you, it isn't that easy for us. A mother's heart is always at risk, our lives are always second place to that of our children, and our happiness is only complete if they live in happiness. There are so many things to teach human babies. There are so many things that can go wrong, and if they do, it is always the mother's fault. The work is incredible, and truly there is wisdom in that old saying, "fathers work from sun to sun, but mother's work is never done."

I have raised all five of my biological children and 30 foster children, and my step son came to live with us when he was fifteen, and within four months his father deployed to Afghanistan. He is an extraordinary young man, highly intelligent, funny, and full of character. It was still a challenge. 

The world has changed in a significant way since I raised my biological children, especially in the area of information and connections. No one had a cell phone when my children were in high school. There was no such thing as text messaging, chat, in fact, very few people had personal computers. I think if that had been available, I would have dug a hole, placed the children there, sealed it up safe and secure, and let them out at age 21... Turtles are a lot smarter than rabbits have led us all to believe... I did a little research, the eggs will hatch in about three months, and the turtles can live to be over 100 years old...