The turtles are back! Over the last several weeks we've been seeing Eastern Box Turtles around the homestead. It's typical for this time of year, and spotting one never gets old.
While we were away camping two weeks ago, my neighbor-friend, who was taking care of the chickens, texted me the picture (below) of a turtle digging a nest in the perennial garden (a.k.a. the Fairy Garden) just outside our backdoor.
As soon as we arrived home, we ran over to check out the nest. I had to be sure there were in fact eggs, so very gingerly, using only one finger, I dug down about 4-5 inches until I spotted a clutch of tiny eggs. I stopped digging as soon as I saw three eggs, but from what I've read there could be as many as eleven. Apparently the eggs need 70-80 days of incubation time before hatching, which means we'll have to wait until September, or October. I've also read that depending on the season, and the weather, the babies may over-winter in the nest.
For now, to mark the spot, and protect the nest from foot traffic, and marauding raccoons, we've placed a rock over the nest. The Girl decorated and labelled it "baby turtles". As fall approaches I'll put up a little fence around the echinacea plants that surround the nest so that we might have the opportunity of saying hello! to the hatchlings before they make their way to the forest, or the creek, or wherever it is that baby turtles most want to go. Needless to say, we're all just thrilled! Also so grateful that our neighbor spotted that mama turtle digging her nest, otherwise we might have never known they were down there.
The frogs, too are out in great number. We've been hearing the nightly chorus of treefrogs for weeks now. While eating dinner on the porch one evening, my mom spotted this little fella on one of the deck chairs. We think, according to our trusty Audubon guide, that it's a Cope's Gray Treefrog. From this angle, it has stellar camouflage, but it's inner thigh is a brilliant golden-yellow.
Just yesterday, this little Northern Leopard Frog hopped out of the grass to say hello.
And then...there's this fierce mama. I must have walked past her a dozen times, as I was unloading groceries. Then I heard the Girl shout, "MAMA! There's a giant mama spider with a million babies on her back!"
We see these Wolf Spiders often enough. In fact one, or two have always lived in the chicken coop. Still. I'm always a bit, um, let's say itchy feeling after seeing one. I mean. They're huge. And when they're covered in all those little babies, squirming every which way and back, they look even BIGGER. She kept trying to sneak in the backdoor, and I shooed her over to the mint bed. Steve saw her a few days after later, and she was hanging out on the other side of the house, near the turtle nest.
STAY OUTSIDE, MAMA SPIDER.
Really, you and all those babies will be much more comfortable in the garden.
How about you? What kinds of critters are popping up around your yard?