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#1 2015-10-09 11:13:15

killerbunny
I Love A.C.E.
From: Brockville, Ontario
Registered: 2012-07-30
Posts: 3124

Tortoise tales

This was written by my cousin in the UK. We shared a house in the 60's.
Part 1

Living with tortoises can be a problem.  They’re built like miniature tanks, they’re compulsive escapers, and they are not stupid.  Which all means they can do considerable low level damage in the garden, and if confined they will escape even if it takes a fortnight to work out the method.
Houdini was a handsomely marked black, apricot and ochre Testudo Hermanni probably hatched in the early 1960s somewhere in Central Europe.  Her floor area by 1990 almost covered a sheet of A4, but in the 1960s my German shepherd dog took to carrying her around, which Houdini seemed not to mind, even to like the dog as she would go up to the house apparently looking for her.  The tortoise did not even bear a grudge the time Michaela sneezed her out after getting a grass blade stuck up her nose when picking her up.  It was a gigantic sneeze and poor Houdini was flung 6 ft through the air and bowled another 6 ft before coming to rest.  She must have been shocked, but only hissed furiously –and still came up to the house next day.  However, air transport was discouraged when it was noticed that Houdini’s shell was becoming worn by Michaela’s long fang teeth.  Instead, the dog contented herself with lying nearby and watching over Houdini’s grazing, while the tortoise would take her siesta tucked into the warm fur of the sleeping dog’s armpit.  Houdini did not behave like this with any dogs since Michaela –they simply ignored each other, and as tortoises are said to be solitary animals, the behaviour is unexplainable.
In the 1970s to 90s a retired, slightly eccentric teacher friend had at the last census, 26 tortoises.  Five were importees –pets “outgrown” and strays handed over by neighbours who knew of my friend’s penchant for saving things.  And then there was Houdini, who she adopted after everyone flew the family nest, and the rest who were all the progeny of Houdini and a male stray, Daddy.
Since about 1980, most summers Houdini laid eggs which my friend incubated in the airing cupboard.  Usually, at least five hatched and were successfully reared.  The record hatch was 9 in 1981 of which 7 thrived, all female.  In tortoises sex is determined by incubation environment –over 200 makes females so the airing cupboard must have been unusually warm that year.   
The ethics of capturing millions of tortoises for sale as pets, most to die from ignorance and neglect, is a thing of the past.  Since the late1980s they have been protected and may not be imported or sold without license.  Although said to be worth a lot of money my friend would not part with a single one because “people don’t look after them properly”.  Houdini and her companions were fortunate survivors living in luxury with a devoted keeper in a large tortoise-proof garden.  She, as another stalwart female (Margaret Thatcher) once remarked of herself, just goes on and on.  She will probably outlive us all.
END - 1990


Mixed collection of chickens, trio of Blue Columbian Wyandottes,BSW turkeys.
RIP Lucky the Very Brave splash Wyandotte rooster.
RIP little Muppet the rescue cat.

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#2 2015-10-09 15:12:54

uno
I Love A.C.E.
From: Enderby, BC
Registered: 2009-02-22
Posts: 5480
Website

Re: Tortoise tales

What a wonderful story, written by an able storyteller. I enjoyed this story very much, thank you Killerbunny's cousin!

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#3 2015-10-09 15:48:59

killerbunny
I Love A.C.E.
From: Brockville, Ontario
Registered: 2012-07-30
Posts: 3124

Re: Tortoise tales

MGF is trying to post the last 2 episodes for me.
Jill sent me these plus a lovely journal of her time in Ambleside, almost like "The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady". I really wish she would publish some of it.


Mixed collection of chickens, trio of Blue Columbian Wyandottes,BSW turkeys.
RIP Lucky the Very Brave splash Wyandotte rooster.
RIP little Muppet the rescue cat.

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#4 2015-10-09 17:46:41

Martin Grove Farm
Administrator
From: Waterloo/St. Jacobs, Ontario
Registered: 2009-11-02
Posts: 19485

Re: Tortoise tales

http://i966.photobucket.com/albums/ae141/krsovan/Tortise2_zpsiowysfxf.png


http://i966.photobucket.com/albums/ae141/krsovan/tortise3_zpsyy2pwxbt.png


"I never learned from a man who agreed with me".~~Robert A. Heinlein.
“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who'll argue with you.” - John Wooden
May every word that we speak, and every word that we type, be words that lift up and never words that tear down

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#5 2015-10-09 18:20:13

killerbunny
I Love A.C.E.
From: Brockville, Ontario
Registered: 2012-07-30
Posts: 3124

Re: Tortoise tales

Thanks MGF!


Mixed collection of chickens, trio of Blue Columbian Wyandottes,BSW turkeys.
RIP Lucky the Very Brave splash Wyandotte rooster.
RIP little Muppet the rescue cat.

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#6 2015-10-10 14:56:33

heda gobbler
I Love A.C.E.
From: Tatlayoko Lake, BC
Registered: 2009-01-26
Posts: 6878
Website

Re: Tortoise tales

Beautifully written! 

My aunt had an African Grey parrot that adored her.  The parrot had a wonderful stimulating life - my aunt was retired and her husband was an invalid so all the social life came to her - her home was always full of conversation and laughter, people coming and going, non stop cooking.  The parrot was in the middle of things, out of its cage all day (hard on the upholstery especially!) and the house was kept really warm.  But African Greys live a really long life, like a tortoise, and when my uncle died and my aunt got ill she had to give the parrot away, she just wasn't home enough, in and out of hospital.  I just really hope that parrot went on to a happy life. 

My aunt was the second owner of the parrot - it wasn't old but it had learned A LOT of curse words and rude sounds as a young bird.  If it was every left alone in a room it would curse like nothing you'd ever heard.  My aunt and uncle were very polite, kind people.  It was funny to hear that parrot let loose!

Anyway, the thing is, having pets that live long long lives is wonderful but can be a issue too.


Beltsville Small White Turkeys - White Chantecler chickens and Buckeye chickens
Highland Cattle, Shetland Sheep and Kerry cows.
www.tatlayokofold.com

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#7 2015-10-10 16:39:56

Robbie
I Love A.C.E.
From: Blackstock, Ontario
Registered: 2012-08-29
Posts: 1627

Re: Tortoise tales

Nice stories, thanks for posting. :thumbsup:

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