And This Is What It’s Come To

I never thought spending a few hours a week caring for tortoises at a zoo would lead me to this. It’s a slippery slope. I started out innocently enough, just wanting to offer my tortoise friends a little treat now and then.   But here I am, bundled against the chilly weather and sneaking out of the house in the wee hours to cruise the neighborhood for weeds. I am ashamed. Especially when a neighbor drives by and catches me stumbling along in the gloam with my baggie of cabbaged dandelion (not actual cabbage, of course. Real cabbage is bad for tortoises).

It’s not just dandelion I’m after anymore. Dandelions are a gateway weed. Now I’m also searching high and low for mallow, and even the occasional Japanese honeysuckle and chickweed.  If this downward spiral continues, I’ll find myself hitting the back part of the playground for some hoary plantain (maybe it’s more politically correct to call it “plantain of questionable morals?” “working plantain?”).

And not only am I trying to score weeds in the neighborhood, I’ve also been scouring the internet for the proper artificial lighting and seeds so I can grow my own. If I’ get good at it, I may sell some, too.

It's a gateway weed. Look at that lovely bloom! Why don't my dandelions bloom like that? I covet!

It’s a gateway weed. Look at that lovely bloom! Why don’t my dandelions bloom like that? I covet! source: simple-wikipedia

Tortoise-keeping is leading me into all kinds of other sins, as well. I know it says in the Bible “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s dandelions.” Or something like that. But I do. I so covet them. If you saw them, you would to! The base of the plants themselves is six inches wide. The full-grown leaves are twelve inches long. Those are some dandelions! They could feed the entire collection by themselves!

When I look at the piddly little plants in my own yard and their stupid little two-inch leaves, I am just green with envy. Green with a pretty yellow bloom. What does my neighbor’s yard have that I don’t have? Their dandelions are growing out of a brick wall, for Pete’s sake! What’s so wrong with me? Why can’t I have nice things, too?

I’m discontent. It’s true what they say. The chickweed is always greener in someone else’s rock wall. I think we are going to have to pack up and move to a place where the weeds are thicker and a girl can catch a break.

Every time I come home with my bag of weeds, I promise myself this will be the last time. I’ll settle down with some nice collards or a little kale. And then I see this face.

Bored. So bored. What's with the plain greens? Score me some weeds, yo!

Bored. So bored. What’s with the plain greens? Score me some weeds, yo!

And the next thing I know,  I’m cruising the neighborhood with my giant Zip-loc bag and wishing my neighbors were less attentive gardeners. Where will it end? I’m waiting to show up on the daily Neighborhood Watch emails – a suspect with the springtime shakes, covered in dirt canvasing the weedy and seedy parts of the neighborhood weeding people’s gardens. Technically, I’m not actually weeding, though. I just take some of the leaves. If I yank them out by the roots, I’ve essentially cut of my own supply. How sad is it that I’ve thought it through that carefully? Don’t answer.

Maybe it’s just spring fever. We’ve been dependent on grocery store greens for far too long, and now that stuff is blooming and growing, I’ve gone a little nuts. Hopefully I’ll settle down in a few weeks. Maybe not, though. Soon it’ll be watermelon season!

Maybe it’s just spring fever. We’ve been dependent on grocery store greens for far too long, and now that stuff is blooming and growing, I’ve gone a little nuts. Hopefully I’ll settle down in a few weeks. Maybe not, though. Soon it’ll be watermelon season!

First the weeds, and now taking questionable photos of tortoise bellybuttons. But look how it has closed up since last time!

First the weeds, and now taking questionable photos of tortoise bellybuttons. But look how it has closed up since last time!

I have some exciting news to post soon. As soon as I get the green-light to share, I will!

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45 thoughts on “And This Is What It’s Come To

  1. Teehee! This post reminds me of my mom trolling public areas in our neighborhood looking for wildflowers to add to our front field. She’d keep garbage bags in the trunk just in case she saw a variety that would look gorgeous in our front field. We once got stopped by the police–he just was checking that she was OK. Haha!

  2. Oh what big grins and chuckles you elecit. You have a gift, my dear. At least you haven’t been arrested being mistaken for something hoary yourself while traipsing around in pursuit of plantain of questional morals.

  3. I can sympathise. I remember doing similar sordid things when keeping Extatosoma tiaratum. It was a particularly hot summer and me and Fiancée used to walk the paths along the parks and other green areas to collect oak leaves and such in big bags. Once in a while we met the odd late night pedestrian and we were always given suspicious looks.

    The things we do…

  4. Just as long as you don’t give them a different gateway weed! 😉 Oh, and it’s called a sex-worker plantain. 🙂

  5. I did not know cabbage is bad for tortoises! That my learning for today out of the way. Keep up the good work, am sure the little ones appreciate the treats 🙂

  6. If you feel like traveling to upstate New York, my parents would LOVE you to police their yard. SO MANY WEEDS! More weeds than grass, even! (And no. You can’t, when faced with that little cranky tortoise-face, not go weed-stealing. Totally understandable.)

  7. Looking forward to your news!!! I’m glad to see some happy turtle photos (and stories) as our immature tortoise just passed away over the weekend. 😦 In any case, thanks for the uplifting post. ^^

  8. Could you tell me what kind of food you feed spider tortoises? I recently acquired a group of adult spider tortoises, but seems like they just like hibiscus flower, mushroom, and bell pepper. Your responses will be very appreciated. Also do you have their setup pic as well?

    • Lots of questions of my own to help answer yours. Where did you get your tortoises? Are they wild-caught animals? If so, how recently were they caught? Are you their first owner?

      • My group of spider tortoises are about 15 years old. I am the second owner of them. I do not know if they are wild caught or not. Even they were wild caught, they have been in California for many years. I have been focusing on breeding Star tortoises (burmeses, True Sri Lankan and India star) for more than 10 years, but I am so new to spider. Please email Me at hubertfirst22@hotmail.com. I am looking forward to your response. Appreciated!

      • We feed our tortoises a mix of collard/turnip greens, kale, romaine lettuce. We add to that squashes, sweet potato, and carrots and blend in a food processor. I usually add a single green pepper to the mix as well. We keep adults on sand if they are indoors, but they go outdoors in the summer. UV has made breeding very successful. Which subspecies do you have?

      • Thank you so much! What brand of UV light do you use? Could you email.me your setup.pic? I have 1.2 PAA and 1.0 PAO

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