When epochs collide

Nose, meet beak. No contest.

April 13, 2009

Shetland sheep have been around for a while. It’s believed that Viking settlers brought them to the Shetland Islands about 1,000 years ago. But on the evolutionary timeline, they’re babes compared to snapping turtles, which have been hanging out since the middle Miocene period. For those of you keeping score at home, that makes them about 10 million years old. Give or take.

So when epochs collided today out back, it should come as no surprise that older and wiser had it all over younger and woolier. It all started when Frances went to put the chickens in around 4:30. There, sitting in front of the run-in shed, sat Mr. Turtle. The chickens, who normally exude a mellow, amiable vibe best summed up by the word “chillin’,” were clearly overwrought.

Soon the sheep, led by the new lambs, let curiosity get the best of them and came over for a look-see. Frances’ heart was in her throat because she knew that snappers were capable of lashing out with unexpected and violent speed. She chased the lambs away, but of course this only made Firefly, the ram, more interested and so he sauntered over.

Firefly and his horns see the world much as a hammer does: full of things to pound. So instinctively, he put his head down low to the ground and investigated. Immediately the turtle snapped and caught Firefly’s nose. The ram lifted his head up instinctively, raising the turtle for a moment before it fell back to the ground. Incredibly, rather than running away, Firefly went back in for another round. Frances quickly interceded and separated them with the only available means: She turned a wheelbarrow over on top of the turtle. A quick first aid session ensued as Firefly wisely let Frances clean his injury. When John arrived home, the snapper was transferred from his prison to the tractor’s front end loader and taken for a little ride out to the pond in the back of the pasture. We hope his case of wanderlust is settled!


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