Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Horton meets Yertle

By David Horst

Horton meets Yertle.
Learn more about Blanding's turtles
Llamas are curious animals, and the way turtles are put together makes them quite a curiosity.

The two converged in our pasture a couple of weeks ago and it made for good comedy.

The sand hill where we built our home turned out to be on the path to the turtle maternity ward. Early each summer, mother turtles make their way from a wetlands, over a farm field, across a road, up an escarpment and past our house to a sandy field where they lay their eggs. It's a journey of about half a mile, though I don't know what that translates to in turtle miles.

Along the way is the llama pasture, and sometimes the turtles take a shortcut through there. They have continuation of their species on their minds, so they don't care that they're entering the home of animals that have about 300 pounds on them. Actually, it's the llamas that get alarmed.

On this particular morning, we saw the llamas all facing one direction, staring at something beyond the fence. It turned out to be a turtle, a good 10 inches long. It was intent on crossing the pasture, so it ducked under the fence and plodded along through the sand. Encountering a 3-foot-tall mound of, well, future garden fertilizer, the turtle chose not to divert around it. It crawled up to the top, looked around and headed on for the opposite fenceline.