06 May 2007

Our Reptilian Overlords

tortoiseA couple of unusual visitors in the past week.  First was the Tortoise.  We first met her (or him -- it's hard to tell with a Tortoise) when we got back from our brief trip to Cape Town a few weeks ago. There she was, asleep beneath the staircase.  We thought that Wayne (who'd been looking after the house and Chooks)  had put her there, though we could not imagine why.  I put her out in the garden, in a safe place.
tortoise escaping
Tortoises are becoming quite rare around here.  Too much habitat loss.  Too many squashed by careless drivers.  They always seem so old and wise, to me; I wonder what they could teach us, could we but understand them.  No wonder we call them Taught Us.

Next day she was back inside the house.  We live with the doors open, mostly, and in she came, bold as brass.  Crawled under the Throne (a huge wooden chair) and got herself stuck.  To the rescue again,  I put her in a different place.  One where she is safe from lawn-mowers and weed-eaters, close to food (the veggie garden) and water.  And I thought we'd seen the last of her, because Tortoises are normally very shy and retiring.

Nope!  A couple of days ago she was back, scrabbling about on the stoep,looking for a way back into the house.  Perhaps she's looking for a place to hibernate for the Winter.  Do Tortoises hibernate?  I fished her out from behind OB's kennel, and off she went across the lawn into the long grass.  Only problem now is I'm planning to burn the grass off soon in order to get some trees and understory plants established.

Large toadThen, yesterday, composting the Brassica beds, I met this fellow who had made a home in the warm compost heap.  The picture doesn't really give a good sense of how large he (she?) is, and he was too flighty to put something familiar into the pic; he's about the size of a man's hand!  I was really careful not to hurt him with my shovel, but I'm afraid he's going to have to find a new home for a while, until I can build a new compost heap in that particular bin.

It's a bit surprising, really, how well frogs and toads thrive in my veggie patch.  I'm forever disturbing little pale tree-frogs nestling in the base of Leeks or on Cabbage leaves.  They're very welcome, though, and a good indicator of how healthy the soil and plants are.  The surprising thing is that they thrive despite the presence of at least two Herald Snakes which mostly eat frogs!

Spent the rest of the afternoon trundling my wheelbarrow back and forth with this tune going round and round and round in my head:  "Mr Froggie went a courtin' and he did ride, aaaahummmm..."

(Apologies, once again, about the crap quality of the pics.  It's just the limitations of the shite little camera we have, and no funds for a better one.)

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