Linden Tree Leaves

Genealogy and Ancestry Explorations

Nona’s Stories: Omar the Turtle

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One day we found an unusually large terrapin crawling along outside the corral fence. We decided to keep it, and named it Omar.

We took it inside the toolshed to paint its name on its shell.

We had it on the workbench when Hanse heard us talking and came out of the barn to investigate.

He jumped up on the workbench, almost landing on top of the terrapin.

When he saw it he yowled – no doubt thinking anything that looked like that was dangerous and not to be trusted.

In his scramble to get off the workbench, he knocked the can of paint off and it hit the floor about the same time that he did. I guess he thought it was the terrapin after him. He raced back into the barn, in his haste skidding and sliding, and yowling and yodeling.

It seemed to be his belief that if he yowled loud enough he would scare off any would-be cat-eating varmints.

Fortunately there was enough paint left in the can to paint “Omar” on the shell of the terrapin.

We had started a garden and had Pop Milam bring us some tomato, lettuce, and cabbage plants out from town. The garden was fenced with chicken wire to keep the rabbits out, so we thought that would be a perfect place to keep Omar.

We were afraid to keep him in the yard, knowing he could bite the curious noses off Kazan and Scotty.

They weren’t afraid of anything and were curious about everything. The next morning we went out to check on Omar and to our dismay and consternation, discovered almost all the lettuce and cabbage plants were gone! Omar had eaten them during the night! We knew he was the culprit for he still had bits of the leaves in the corners of his mouth.

Terrapins hibernate in Winter, digging themselves underground. I guess he had just come out of his long winter sleep and was hungry. Luckily he hadn’t eaten the tomato plants – maybe his taste didn’t run to tomatoes.

Knowing we couldn’t keep him in the garden or yard, we took him to the big pasture and turned him loose.

The last we saw of him he was crawling happily away in the tall grass.

Years later when we were living in Victoria, we found people there kept several terrapins in their yards to control “pill” bugs. Victoria being near the Gulf, is a very wet and rainy place and pill bugs thrive there.

People painted their cattle brands on the shells of the terrapins if they had a brand, and if not used their initials. This was considered proof of ownership, and theft of a marked terrapin was the same as theft of any other property.

-Nona

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