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July 8, 2016

Therapy Dig

Fear not, Frankie and I still exist.  I'm visiting one of my Deep Depressions which occasionally stops by like an unwanted guest.  I'm pretty good at surviving them.  This depression is no charmer but it's not a record breaker:  The worse lasted two years.

I've developed a sense of humor about withdrawing into a hermit like existence.  There is the bonus weigh loss that occurs due to the absolute disinterest in food, and trimming outside activities so to concentrate on remembering to bathe, brush my teeth, and feed Greg and the cats.

[No worries.  Got a doctor who loves throwing prescriptions at me. Sorry doc, already tried that pill. Yep, tried that one too. I can do Hermit but don't wanna be a Zombie.  Can we just keep it simple?  I've been doing this since I was sixteen, You weren't even born yet.]

Frankie showed up in my life at the end of that long two year record depression and he continues to challenge my keen ability to remain un-moving indoors doing absolutely nothing but wondering what day it is.  

He showed up on the porch the other day covered with dirt.  

Nothing spells trouble like a dirt covered sulcata shell.

 I know that sulcata tortoises dig.  Digging is part of who they are.  Digging long tunnels down underground sometimes eight to fourteen feet long is instinct.  Where else do you think a sulcata tortoise would live?  

Attempting to beat an animal's natural instinct is probably mankind's most arrogant trait. Long before Frankie moved into out lives, Greg and I have schemed and devised ways to keep our sulcata from digging. We've really, really tried.  Hence our elaborate Frankie Caves over 14 years.  

Real Important Point:  If a sulcata tortoise has a place to sleep where he feels secure and comfortable, he probably will not dig.  Key words there are secure and comfortable.

Check posts about Frankie's houses and you'll find we've been very successful proving Frankie with such places.  Mostly.  Until it gets hot.

Frankie showing up at the back door covered with dirt means he is digging to find a cool spot.  The hair on my neck stands on end and even though I am in a air conditioned room I break into a sweat.  I head outside urgent to find what Frankie's been into.

Right off I see the wood pallet set by the fence corner toss over like some kid has kicked over a stack of wooden building blocks.  Yep, Frankie started digging here.  Good news: He got stopped by the pieces of cement I put into the hole he tried to dig last summer.  Bad news is he moved on from here to find a better dig for The Spot.

Frankie has caught up with me, brushing against my leg.  I look down at him a bit annoyed.  He looks up at me like "You ain't seen nothing yet."

Farther on between the shed and the fence I find the area where I plant clover has now been all dug up.  But this isn't The Spot.  Frankie just test dug out all the clover.  So I proceed along the fence hunting for The Spot.  

Nothing for the entire length of the yard until I get to the fence by the house. I stood in silent wonderment at the carnage.  This spot wasn't just digging.  This is more wrecking and destruction.

I spent last fall excavating this particular area putting down bricks and wood all around a awkwardly placed railroad tie.  Frankie refuses to walk around this cumbersome object around but instead insist on walking over it.  He struggles to crawls over from below and in the reverse direction slides off with a PLOP to the ground.  I carefully landscaped bricks and wood to force Frankie to walk around the railroad tie.  

He dug all that up. Bricks and wood are scattered all around the immobile railroad tie.  Not sure what I am going to do about this mess.

Frankie catches up with me again.  I look down at him annoyed.  He looks up at me, proudly, "Huh? Whadda think?  Good job, huh?"

Still, this is not The Spot we are looking for.

There by the house, in a nook of the house it the Big Dig.  Frankie has dug a dirt pit to keep cool. It's not a tunnel.  It's just a place to dig into the cool dirt.

If it was a tunnel he would be digging under our house.

Good news:  no tunnel under the fence and into Greater Mobile.  

Still, I am going to have to keep a very close eye on this corner.  The Spot is "comfort" which the greenhouse can't provide.  Frankie gets to keep his hole.  A shade cloth is placed over The Spot to increase Frankie's feeling of comfort and security.  I'll go out daily and hose it down with water. It will be a mud hole. Frankie will like that.

That rascal, Frankie.  He got me out of the house.  I'm doing a little yard work.  Now I am writing.  

Frankie is better than drugs.

March 16, 2016

A Day In Frankie's Life (video)

Ever wonder what a day is like for Frankie?  What can a sulcata tortoise do all day?  The list isn't all that long:

Get some beauty sleep
Bask in the glory of sunlight till the shell hums with warmth
Walk everywhere
Drink as much water as you want
Check out the sky
Make sure the trees are in their place
Look for exotic foods
Get the daily carrot
Check out the humans
Inspect the yard for intruders and strange objects
Hump anything resembling another tortoise
Ram invaders
Inspect buildings and fences
Wait for a walk around the block..

Okay, so the list gets long once you observe Frankie and his shenanigans.  

Your turn to check our Frankie and his daily routine.....about four hours worth of Frankie business.

Video is three minutes and twelve seconds.  Enjoy!

 Comments are always welcome!

March 11, 2016

A Seedy Problem

A reprieve....I have a day's reprieve.  It's raining outside, Frankie is hanging out inside his greenhouse, I get to sit and write a Frankie Tortoise Tail.

New problem in the Frankie's Backyard Paradise.  

Two years ago when we moved here our neighbor let us know we had a fruit tree in our yard. The excellent tree that shades the back porch is some sorta exotic fruit tree that I had never hear about.  I kept an eye on it that first year yet no flowers or fruit every appeared.  

Frankie loved eating the non-toxic year round green leaves that fell in the yard.  Pretty much, except for the excellent shade and delicious leaves I quit paying attention to the tree. 

.....until this December.  Tiny lovely white flowers began adorning the tree.  What tree blooms in the middle of the winter?

The Loquot Tree does.  

Not only does it bloom in the winter, it's one of the very few trees that produces fruit in the winter.  

Curiously I watched as the fruits begin forming.  By January the little green fruits were thumb size. In February they begin to ripen into yellow luscious fruits.

Fruits are a no-no for sulcata tortoises.  The fruit sugar wrecks havoc with the tortoise digestion system evolved for a scant grassland diet.  Sugars cause intestinal bacteria imbalances, and contributes to the dreaded bladder stones.   

Just say, "No," to fruit Frankie.  Just say, "No!"

Frankie camps out under that Loquot Tree like a beggar.  

First thing in the morning I head out to the tree and pick up anything fallen from the night before.  

Doesn't matter.  Frankie haunts the tree like a Florida retiree on a beach.

Frankie under the Loquot Tree

Took just a couple of days to realize I was missing all the "pre-nibbled" fruit dropped to the ground by birds.  Bits of fruit fall the ground hidden by grass and dirt and only the sharp nose of a tortoise can find the little sweet morsels.

And then there were the seeds.  For barefooted me its like stepping on Tic-Tacs.  I know they are there.  I can feel them.  The panic came when I realized that Frankie was eating the seeds.  

An internet search reveals the seeds may or may not be poisonous, depending on the source. Thanks, Internet.   

Time for Poop Patrol.  I dissect three previous days' poop.  Yep.  Frankie is eating the pits.  

Good news:  Frankie doesn't chew.  Bad news:  Frankie swallows.

It's been wait and watch.  

Fruits been falling for three weeks.  Frankie isn't dead yet.

Still not taking chances.  I am outside sweeping, raking, picking up the fruit all day long.  I have to be vigilant.  Frankie is.

Frankie does his morning bask and a quick walk around the yard, He skips grazing and heads straight under the Loquot Tree skulking about for bits of fruit dropped by birds.


He doesn't find any whole fruits.  I've grabbed those.

I even recruited neighbors to check for fallen fruit under the Loquot Tree while I was out of town.  

I thought the small Persimmon tree in our yard in Birmingham was trouble.  It's nothing compared to the full grown Loquot Tree.  I hate to consider chopping it down.  The Loquot fruit is delicious!   Like a pear only much sweeter.  

Frankie thinks so.  

Free Loquots to anyone who wants to come over and harvest it themselves.  Bring a carrot for Frankie and help yourself to free Loquots.


Special thanks to neighbors Denise and Renee, vigilant Frankie guardians.