Saturday, June 26, 2010

Save The Turtles

When we were living in New Mexico Cindy got a routine going to save turtles, we had a lot in our town and every once in a while you would see them in the middle of the street, I suppose this is common most anywhere but my Cindy’s fascination for saving them was anything but.

It all started when she took the kids over to Green Acres Park to play and feed the ducks, there were a group of kids torturing the corpse of a turtle they had already killed and man o man did ever get a lesson from my wife who confiscated another which was still very much alive. This turtle was the beginning of her quest, next day the lady who lived across the street came over to see what we were doing with a box and tub of water in the front yard, to get right to the point she saw Cindy taking care of this turtle and mentioned she had one in her back yard she needed to be rid of, I went over and underneath her shed I dug out a small box turtle that was in the worst shape I have ever seen, his shell was actually broken it appeared he had been hit by the lawnmower and he was so dehydrated his eyes were sunk into his head, he actually smelled of death.

We did some research and to cure the dehydration he was placed into a tub of water just deep enough to reach the lower half of his shell but not deep enough for him to drown, we left him like this and turned in for the night expecting the worse for him come morning, much to our surprise next morning when we got up there he was scrapping around the box with the most bright eyes I have ever seen, the small turtle with the broken shell was called “Toughie”

 picture from Google Images
We were now in the turtle business (have you noticed that we get into a lot of different animal businesses than I choose) and to be proper turtle keepers these turtles had to have a proper home so here I am out in the back yard with “Shovels and Rakes and Implements of Destruction” building a large frame that was completely covered with chicken wire, a lid was added for easy access at feeding time and then the bottom two and a half feet of this cage was buried so the turtles could dig down to sleep and hibernate when the time came without being able to escape, now this sounds easy but that is a lot of dirt to dig out only to be placed right back into the same hole after the cage was in place.

Toughie was quite a character he was the smallest of nearly twenty turtles we ended up with over the years and he always held his own, every once in a while I would give them a treat and bring home a tub of night crawlers or maybe some red worms for them to eat, Toughie would come over to where the lid was and look up standing on three legs with one a front leg held up, Cindy said he was “Sitting Pretty” for the worms and he did this every time I brought worms home for them.

The turtles would dig down and disappear every winter to hibernate so when this happened and they were not coming up during the day anymore I would dump all of the leaves I had raked from the yard and cover them, this held moisture in the ground which they needed and also added a blanket to keep the frost level from getting down to them, around February every year they would begin to appear for the season and the antics of saving the turtles was again upon us.

These turtles came from everywhere, if we saw one on the highway I would have to make a u-turn and go back to prevent it from being run over, I even had to spend my entire lunch hour one day taking apart the dash in my company truck to save one I had the bright idea of stopping for and placed in the floorboard thinking he would be OK till I got home, Yes when I got home he was gone and there were scratching noises coming from back behind the radio, I could actually see his face looking back at me from the defrost vent, after this if one needed saved while I was working there was a box in my toolbox where they were a little safer.

We did this I know for about five to six years and when we got the call that we were needed in California we had to agonize over what to do with our turtles, all the people we knew that had turtles were at their limit and the Zoo refused them for the same reason, we found a pond out in the country that sat on the edge of a nice park and over the hill behind this pond is a beautiful area with green grass and not much foot traffic, twenty turtles went to live here because of the moisture available and all the bugs and worms you could eat, Toughie was still very much alive and could fend for himself when we chose to release him back to nature, last time I saw him he was scrapping his was towards the grass, he stopped turning back and for a minute I saw that front leg coming up and for a minute I thought he was coming back, but instead he began to scratch the ground for he had already found a worm he didn’t have to sit pretty for.


  1. This kind made me all misty. I save turtles from the road too ,but I release them to a park like setting. Such a nice story! Hugs to you for sharing!

  2. Will you and Cindy be doing this in California? You could end up with quite a menagerie.

    I can picture both of you softies down in Louisiana, scrubbing down turtles and other wildlife, affected by the oil.

  3. Thats what we ended up doing too, just took a few years to get them there :) Thank you I am glad you enjoyed.

    Hey Ms A, it kind of looks like we have a start with the mini Chicken Ranch Ha Ha and I agree if we were in Louisiana I bet there would be some scrubbing going on, the hard part would be trying to build a habitat for the ones Cindy would bring home :^)

  4. "Chicken Ranch"... that name holds special meaning in these here parts, right along with the name Marvin Zindler. Sorry, I had to chuckle when you called it that. Now see if you can get those girls to turn a profit.

  5. Hey Ms A, I kind of thought that as I typed those words in Ha Ha the first one is still laying and when the others are old enough hopefully they will too---eggs that is :)

  6. Oh, this post brought tears to my eys. Especially the ending. How BEAUTIFUL, Jimmy!

    First I have to say....BRAVA to you and Cindy for caring for these adorable turtles. I have such a soft spot in my heart for animals too.

    The more I know of Cindy, the more I truly admire and respect her ability to speak out about things she feels strongly about. You GO, girl! I'm the same way! I once saw a group of children whipping a swan with a tree branch by a lake. OMG, I freaked out! I can't repeat what I said to them, but let's just say they RAN from me - HA!

    Bless you and Cindy for having such kind and compassionate hearts.

    You're GEMS!

    Great story, my friend. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

  7. I love your animal stories, my friend.

  8. I love people who have a passion for animals, much the same as mine. We have recently started looking into opening a small dog rescue. I still have a ton of research to do before it happens. But it will happen!

  9. I don't think Cindy would like me very much if she knew what I did to our pet turtle when I was two or three years old. I speared it with a pen and brought it into the kitchen all proud to show my mom. my brother got hysterical and started to cry when he saw his nearly dead turtle's squirming legs and the pen running through his body. recently Katie got turtles in Chinatown in LA and we had them for several years. They did not seem so active and often times we worried they were dead. But alas....they were just very inert pets. The last of the two died a short time ago and we were all sad. I really loved your story. I think Toughie was trying to say goodbye to you when he turned back...he knew he was leaving behind a good friend.

  10. This is one of those stories that makes me smile..
    Animals share the planet with us and it is up to us to help them whenever, however.

    Really a great read this early morning..

  11. Hey Ron, I’m glad you enjoyed it Buddy Yes Sir she has always been able to tell you what she thinks and as far as animals go we always take care of them best as we can. Thank You Ron I appreciate ya!!

    Joe, Thank You Sir I’m always proud to hear positive words from you my Friend.

    Hey Melissa, That would be fantastic if you could get the dog rescue going, you are smart to do the research first that shows that you will make it work, I’m proud of you.

    Susie, I really don’t think Cindy will hold anything against you that happened when you were a baby :^) I have never been to Chinatown and I am assuming the turtles were probably the little water turtles, I had those when I was a kid they also can make a good pet. Toughie was a cool turtle I was kind of sad to let him go.

    A Good Early Morning to you Lynne, “Animals share the planet with us and it is up to us to help them whenever, however” Amen to that one my Friend we have to take care of each other and when an animal is in need it’s hard for me to look the other way.

  12. You and Cindy are good people. Good hearted and kind. Need lots more like you in the world.

  13. Thank You Peg,

    I am honored to hear that from such a kind person as you.

  14. This one got to me Jimmy! What a great post. You and your family are really good folks. When Toughie looked back at you and raised that front leg...well, I got a little bit misty...

  15. Thank You Pat, I actually thought he was going to make a u-turn and come back there for a minute.

  16. That was such a sweet and tender post! I just thought for sure you was going to go back and scoop him up. BUT I'm glad it all turned out for the best. I found a little tiny turtle once and kept him for two years and he never grew any bigger than the size of a half dollar. I ended up having to release him in the pond.

    Yall have such big hearts and I am proud to call yall my friends!

  17. Thank You Heather,

    If I could have made it work I would have brought him with us :) releasing them back to where they belong feels good though.

    Your turtle just may be a bit bigger now :^)

  18. That is so sweet. I love turtles and I hate to see any animal suffer. So glad you found them a nice home when you had to move. :-)

  19. Thank You Angelia, I was happy with the place we found for them and feel like their little families have grown since we left them there :)


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