Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring Feed

Well, Treppie has finally come completely awake, and is now eating like a, well, tortoise in April who hasn't eaten since October. Treppie's tongue, for some reason, fascinates me. He's this brown and black scaly guy with a crepey neck, making his thick, fleshy tongue rather startling when he sticks it out to grab some food. I hung around the feeding station trying to get a good, clear photo of it, but failed miserably. Here's just a tiny bit of it, seen as he takes come collard greens from my hand.

Here's another shot, this one of his handsome face, which looks considerably less grumpy than it did when there was a large, heavy, rude lizard sitting on him:

Here's Treppie last week, grazing outside, uploaded to YouTube, for the first time this year.

I realized, while in the market the other day, that Mother Nature has brought forth the tortoises from hibernation at the same time the Spring's first crop of corn on the cob appears in the stores. Here is Baby Atlas, enjoying tortoise crack, er, corn on the cob.

I find that I need several weeks for my hands and arms to recover in between knitting pairs of soldier socks for Socks for Soldiers. Knitting on small sized needles with fine yarn being out, I pulled out my size 7s and 8s and began knitting some blanket squares for the Sonoma Blanket Project.

As I was following the news story about the 800 chihuahuas that had been rescued from a hording home, and finding out that many of them were being cared for at a clinic where I know a vet surgical nurse, I decided to make some chihuahua sweaters. Thanks to my friend Phyllis who had a dog sweater pattern small enough to fit small dogs, I got a chance to start making some sweaters earlier this week. Here are the first two. The red one is finished, while the green one needs to have the tiny 'sleeves' added and be seamed:

It wasn't until I looked at the above photo on my computer monitor that I realized how small the sweaters looked compared to Mikey's hind foot! These sweaters are about 10-11" across, when laid flat like the green one. Here's the green on laying on Mike's back:

As I sat down at my desk this morning, preparing to start my day, I looked around and realized that knitting has the potential to take over my life:

There is the stack of dog sweaters, washcloths for the SFS program, a stack of folded blanket squares for the SBP, a knitted ball I made (so I could help out a friend who was trying to knit one), the blue cozy that holds my little digital recorder, and behind the lacquered cat box, a wrist warmer I wear most mornings when I need to do a lot of mousing. Behind all that, next to the speaker, are small balls of yarn leftovers, my double pointed needles (in those nifty tubes from Nancy's Knit Knacks), a small collection of my straight needles, some little containers knitting supplies, paperclips, nail buffer (can't be snagging our knitting, can we), patterns, and what every well-equipped desk needs, my police/fire scanner and flashlight.

What!? You mean you don't??

Friday, April 04, 2008

Spring doth creep on tiny tortoise feet

While the rest of the world celebrates the vernal equinox as the first day of spring, around here, the first day of spring is heralded by the first clement day one of the chaco tortoises scratches at the back door to be let outside - and chooses to stay outside because it isn't frickin' cold or raining.

This year, Baby Atlas (now about 25 years old) was the first to want to go outside. The chacos don't do much in the way of venturesome climbing (well, clamboring over rocks and hillocks and such), necessitating me to always pick them up and put them down, a sort of aerial tortoise transfer bypassing the step from the house to the back patio.

Four years ago, I slanted some old fence boards from the step to the patio, and "drove" them up and down it in the effort to get across to them that they could use it to walk up and down rather than wait for The Mommy Airlift Service (TMAS).
Last year, they finally got it, and Atlas, at least, remembers how to use it (well, to not freak out about the slant and the scary space in between the two boards)!

Atlas rambled around the patio for a while...

before heading off into the wilds of the weedy yard with the encroaching masses of honeysuckle.

In March, I was asked about a fleshy protrusion that had suddenly appeared--and was then withdrawn--from the back end of a sulcata tortoise heretofore believed to be female. I related the remarkable appearance and size of the male tortoise reproductive organ, and referred the tortoise mom to my article on Hemipenes. The problem with getting photos of them is that they tend to appear when there isn't a camera handy, and disappear by the time one risks breaking one's neck getting a camera to the scene.

Well, a few days later, not only did Atlas extrude his for the first time that I've seen (he's been with me for about 10 years), but he kept it out (Baby Exhibitionist, he is) long enough (no pun intended) for me to race to the other room and get back with my camera.

Oh! And those tiny tortoise feet? Here they are:

Spring's arrival requires confirmation, and thus was it confirmed yesterday when Treppie, my 14 year old (captive bred of captive bred parents) desert tortoise emerged from his hibernaculum (this year, under my bed) and trundled his way into the den, where he planted himself by my chair, awaiting TMAS to take him the rest of the way into the Iguana/Tortoise room. After warming up the rest of the day and night, he trundled into the kitchen this morning for a nice long drink, his first since last November.

While Treppie was sucking in his 3rd bowl of water, Mikey came down from his basking/lounging area, ready to start his morning with a poop, feed, and bath. Ah, yes, another sign of spring: males jousting for dominance at the trough! Because Treppie is just waking up from his long slumber, he wasn't thinking fast enough to do his usual trick: plant his body over the food bowl and continue drinking, thus assuring no one else can eat, even if he himself isn't eating at that time.

Mike, having been subjected to being shut out of the food bowl back when he was just a wee little thing when he first came to live with me, knows how to get even and take the offensive. First, you walk on the tortoise...

...and then stay there, making your point...

...and then add insult to injury by attempting to squash the tortoise while you eat.

Treppie uttered a few hisses, which bothered Mike not at all, so I intervened and separated them.

After taking a few bites and then stepping in the food to spread it around, Mike walked off to his bathroom to await TMBS (The Mommy Bath Service), and Treppie eventually resumed drinking.

Ah, Spring!

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