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Turtle gardening

Folks, it’s amazing that if you live in rural areas as long as I have you can expect to see something you’ve never seen before on a regular basis.

Last week, for the first time in my life, I saw actual “Turtle Gardening” by an undocumented, and pretty alien, gardener. As our esteemed president likes to say, “Here’s the deal.”

A generous friend, ol’ Givitt Tway, last week invited me to pull all his pea vines from his garden at my convenience and harvest all the leftover green peas for ol’ Nevah and me. So, early the next morning, I arrived at his garden and backed my pickup close to the row of trellised pea vines and went to pulling the vines.



That’s when I spied out of the corner of my eye actual “Turtle Gardening” underway by the undocumented gardener. The gardener wuz actively planting “turtle seed” in a hole she’d dug with her own appendages.

Okay, funnin’ aside, here’s what I saw about 10 feet away. A female water turtle — not a snapping turtle, or a soft-shelled turtle, or a land terrapin — with about a foot-long shell had dug through the dry crusty topsoil with her hind legs down to wet mud and wuz sort of in a trance and laying eggs in the hole. She’d dug down at least 6-inches and wuz inclined about 45 degrees down into the hole.



The strange thing is the closest natural water wuz at least a half-mile away in the Cottonwood River. The closest unnatural water wuz in the neighbor’s sewage lagoon about 50 yards away. I’m guessing the turtle wuz making her summer home in the lagoon, but that’s pure guesswork. Maybe she wuz a traveling turtle.

At any rate, the next time I saw my generous neighbor, I thanked him and told him I hoped his “turtle seed” all germinated and that his undocumented “gardener” wuz pretty limited in her gardening skills.

He got a big laugh out of that and I got about 2 pints of frozen peas for next winter. Nevah froze them, along with some of our own. I also got about a pint of dried peas that were too mature for cooking. I’ll use them in some soup next winter.

***

Keeping with the “turtle” theme, my recent column recounting how I gashed open my thumb while falling INTO my jon boat, prompted an e-mail response from my friend, ol’ Dub L. Downer, who had a friend who loves to fish and who had a similar experience to mine, but the results were different.

“Dub” wrote: “Milo, your story about falling into your jon boat and flailing helplessly around like a turtle on its back sounds just like a friend of mine.

Big Lee loves fishing. He and his friend took their little fishing boat out to the lake. Big Lee isn’t too steady on his feet, said he stood up, lost his balance and crashed backwards into the boat.

“He got wedged in the little boat and said the same thing about looking like a turtle on his back — couldn’t get up. His friend stood up in the boat to help Big Lee upright, but his standing at the rear caused the boat to start taking on water over the stern.

“They ending up sinking the boat, but close to the shore. Still, they finally had to pull it out with their pickup.

“On another topic, I see your favorite recreational relaxer is a good bourbon, then scotch. You’re a man after my own heart, though I prefer scotch over bourbon.

“I’ve been meaning to ask you how far south of highway 50 is the little town of Saffordville? When I used to drive and deliver dealership Fords all around the midwest, I made a lot of trips to the Kansas City area and St. Joe, Mo., going after vehicles or delivering them. I drove by the Saffordville sign often, but never took the time to turn and take a look.

“Turned 78 a couple months ago, so we’re the same age. Take a sip for me.”

Well, thanks for the story, Dub. I can answer your question about Saffordville. All that’s left is three homes and the old brick Toledo Township High School which is used as a community building and it’s where we old boars have our every Wednesday breakfast. The great flood of 1951 wiped out the little town.

***

The day after I gashed open my thumb, my fishing buddy from Pratt, ol’ Claude Hopper, returned for another couple days of fishing. We bank fished one day and boat fished the second. We caught plenty of fish, just not any big ones.

One maddening thing happened while we were boat fishing. We had a lot of crappie and small bass in wire fish basket tied to the side of the boat. When we were ready to leave the watershed lake, I revved up the trolling motor. The speeding water rushing across the top of the basket opened the spring-loaded trap door and let all our fish out except for five dumb ones.

I’m now trying to think of a better way to keep fish alive in a jon boat without a live well. I may have to build some sort of more sturdy fish basket myself.

***

We ain’t had a sniff of rain since the soggy weather quit two weeks ago. Now the ground is cracked, the garden needs regular watering. The temperature during those two weeks went from 49 degrees for the low to 103.5 degrees for the high.

But, folks got their soybeans planted and have a good start on their cool season grass hay baling. Typical Kansas summer weather pattern.

***

Words of wisdom for the week: “Every loaf of bread is a tragic story of a group of grains that could have become beer, but didn’t” Have a good ‘un.


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Milo Yield

No need to cry over spilled red wine

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