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June 3, 2014

Chance of Carrots

Just as distracting as a flea to a cat, so a new object in a yard draws the attention of a sulcata tortoise: specifically, Frankie the tortoise.

Frankie has finely deemed the back yard worthy.  With warm and sunny days now abundant, Frankie has taken to walking his yard, every inch, every day, for hours on end.  Frankie is completely familiar with his yard's unique terrain, tree placement, where various objects sit, best basking spots in the morning, best basking spot in the afternoon, and the idea place to sit and cool off.
No one can see me.  I look like wood.
If something is out of place Frankie will attempt to rectify the situation.  To me, it just looks like Frankie is dragging tables and pushing over chairs. He calls it Property Management.

In the morning Frankie does property inspection and if all is well he will do his marathon walk all the way around the yard, reverse all the way around the yard, up and down the slopes, side to side on the slopes, and (if I am lucky) an accidental slide down the slope. Such feats of fortitude deserve tribute and rewards:  A carrot, one a day, if at all possible.

Frankie visits the patio door which goes inside the house (where his staff resides).  Frankie announces his presence at the back door by walking half on and half off the threshold dragging his shell against the door just in-case I have not noticed his presence. He walks face right into the back door window peering inside to see if there is any chance of carrots.
I can has carrot?

All this is nice to see as I could tell during the last few months that Frankie wasn't quite sure this was his home or just a temporary stop.  There is no question now:  the backyard operates under the Frankie Rules.

Greg and I are not quite finished getting Frankie's yard ready.  I am still planting grass. Greg put up his weather station and is working on a second Frankie cam installation.  Leaves are raked weekly.  Drainage has to be improved.  Busy work for Greg and I, and Frankie ever underfoot.

After every rain I have to clear debris from the fence line at the bottom of the slope.  If I am lucky I work on my own but most of the time Frankie supervises.  Frankie supervises by trampling trash bags full of debris.  I switched to the orange bucket that Greta & LD bought for Frankie which he has ignored....until I filled the orange bucket with tree debris.

Frankie now uses the debris-filled orange bucket as a battering ram target.  I'm not using it any more nor have I emptied the bucket out as I am afraid Frankie may be waiting up the hill for some dumb sucker to touch it.  Orange bucket sits in the same place since last I used it.

Uphill from the bucket is the gutter downspout that drains rainwater into Frankie's yard.  In planning a downspout extension, Greg and I picked out a low profile extender that can be place leveled with the ground.  Less stuff for Frankie to mess with and tear up.

I dug a channel in the dirt in which to place the extender.  I spent some time digging out the front area to allow the rainwater to flow down hill on a slope.  A bunch of rocks were set at the end to allow for good drainage and reduce erosion. 

This installation was going oh-so-well until Frankie came to inspect my work.  He stood for a minute watching my progress.  I hurried along before Frankie stormed though and tore it up.  Four flat rocks were placed on top to keep Frankie from crushing it.  Before I could finish the rock placement Frank walked on top of the whole project and sat down.  He covered the whole thing.

I couldn't drag Frankie off.  He would dig in his feet and the whole project would be ruined.  Same if I tried to push him off.  I just sat down face to face with Frankie to wait him out.  Regretfully, Frankie planned to stay a while.  Or he is trying to tell me something?

Maybe carrots?  I leave Frankie to retrieve a carrot from the house.  I walked to the bottom of the hill to see if I could temp him off my project.  Frankie was still sitting on my extension.

I waved the carrot at Frankie,"Carrot! Frankie!"

Frankie looked down at me and the carrot.  Frankie saw what I had.  Frankie just turned away and looked at the other side of the yard.

I walked around ten feet in front of him.  "Frankie!  Do you want a carrot?"

Frankie looked through me like I was a cloud.  I walked about five feet directly in front of Frankie.  "Want this carrot?'

Nothing.   I sat a couple of feet on the ground in front of Frankie.  If he wanted the carrot he still had to move off my project.  "Do you want this carrot?"

Nothing.  Scooted right up to him and put the carrot right in front of his nose.  "Carrot, Frankie!  You gonna eat this carrot?"

And he did.  The minute he was done eating the carrot he got up off my downspout extension and meandered away.  Who's the boss of this yard?

I felt so manipulated.   

Dedicated to Turtle Rescue of Long Island, celebrating 10 years of heroic turtle and tortoise work. TRLI is worthy of our support. If you have $25-$50 to give to the turtles please consider TRLI:


  1. AnonymousJune 03, 2014

    Obviously, you did not submit your construction plans to upper management before starting and thus management decreed that the project be shut down until further notice. Once the fine was paid (or bribe depending on interpretation) then work was allowed to resume. If you're not careful, when you're all finished the four legged zoning board might fail the project upon final inspection and decide it needs to be demolished. A few more carrots may be needed to sway public opinion in your favor.
    Inkling 13 via

  2. on the grass thing, you might want to try sprouting bird seed - since you know he will eat it before it can get established. just cheap bird seed with millet and sunflowers and whatever in it - my tortoises love the sprouts from this, and it sprouts faster and easier than grass, and makes a larger leaf per seed. just a thought!