Hot Chicks!…Cool Chicks!

There’s a cool new Summer night spot in Todd’s Backyard!…The party starts at 6pm, nightly at Gerti’s ‘Goody’ Garden, where Gerti (our desert tortoise) host’s a nightly event… the Chick Party! Girls only!!!

And the guests?…

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3 hot chicks, one hot dog and one ha ha hot mama ;) With the daily temps of over 100 degrees for about the past 2-3 weeks, everyone is looking for a little cool down…which we’ve found at sundown when the shadows start to cool the yard and the sprinklers shut off on the grass. Daizy (the puggle) and I round-up the chicks and head off to Gertie’s!

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There, the smaller guests enjoy a nice veggie salad while lounging in the wet grass. I enjoy a nice glass of wine, while putting my bare feet in the wet grass…ahhhhhh. But, things can get pretty wild when the chicks finish their snack. This is when the fun and games begin! Daizy never actually eats her snack, she just likes to claim it, nibble on it a bit, then wait for her feathered friends to come after it….a great game!

And quite entertaining to watch the chicks, relentlessly chasing Daizy around until she gives it up, which in the end, she always does!

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After the games, there’s time to catch up on some gossip…

chickparty3And time to rock out!

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Daizy usually likes to see if she can dig up some other friends (lizards, baby bunnies, etc.) to join the party…

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You may be asking, “where’s Gerti?” while all of this parting is going on? Gerti is pretty much a ‘legs-off’ hostess. She’d much rather hang out on the sidelines than get involved in the friendly frolicking! And she really does NOT enjoy the pecks on the cheek!  But she will do a little mingling when there’s a special guest!

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Gerti stuck her neck out to join the party when my niece Megan was here! Gerti adored her and the chicks thought Megan was pretty cool too!

Gerti’s House

We always get a little nervous in the Spring, because you never know, after 6 long months, if Gerti, our desert tortoise, survived the Winter. She heads into her den around mid November and sleeps until the heat starts kicking in mid May.

Gerti’s House

This year we were especially nervous because  it’s hit 100 degrees and we still hadn’t seen her. That, and she has collected a variety of roommates that are sharing her den! So we didn’t know if they’ve moved in because she had ‘checked out’! Finally, this past week, Gerti did emerge!

Gerti emerges from her winter digs in need of a bath!

And it seems that her being awake does not bother her live-in friends!

A pair of large collared lizards have made their home in Gerti’s den and have been busy populating the tortoise garden with baby lizards.

Lizard Love

Apparently, so have some rabbits! I don’t know how Gerti feels about this, but her roommates seem to be very comfortable sharing a space with a large, shelled reptile. There have been 2 baby rabbits born somewhere in the tortoise garden, maybe even inside Gerti’s house, but whether they were born in or out of the den, they hang out in there! It’s funny seeing a tiny ball of fluff sitting inside Gerti’s house! The first one grew and moved out several weeks ago, and now there is another one! I would imagine that mama bunny knows that she’s found a pretty safe spot to spit out her babies, so it will probably become a pretty common occurrence.

Unfortunately, not a great photo, but you can see his little eyes aglowin’!

So, it could be a Summer long party at Gerti’s house!

Gerti and her roommates

Hare Racing Moments!…Go Gert, Go!

You could cut the tension with a knife!

Who would have thought a small patch of grass would cause such a sensation! Todd has been working on the Tortoise garden since last Spring, planting and landscaping. Gerti (our desert tortoise) loves it! But then, so do all of the other critters in the yard! The lush little patch of grass is nirvana in the desert! Needless to say, I don’t think Gerti is real happy to share…. but then, how fierce can a tortoise really get to defend it’s territory?

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She can be somewhat creative in her tactics!

But I think she may need to come up with another plan for the dirt monkeys….

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She may just have to let Todd take care of that little problem!

A Tortoise Adventure

Our torti girl is getting ready to hibernate…but she doesn’t like the burrow that Todd built her.

At least not for her winter hibernation. (She loved it this summer!)

Todd talked to an expert today, and he said that the desert tortoises winter burrows need to face south. Unfortunately, the wonderful summer burrow faces north….and Tortalee does not like it!  She has not been sleeping in her house with the temps staring to dip!  I found her the other morning, under a bush on the south wall of the house, groggy and grumpy.

Sooo…. we are going to embark on the construction of a  new enclosure, that’s just off the back porch, with lots of sunny southern exposure for the winter. In the mean time, TL came in the house today (through the doggy door), to make her laps around the house. I think that she may be looking for a good place to  hibernate in the house.

We have friends that keep desert tortoises and they let them hibernate in their house….in a box….in the closet! I just don’t see that happening here! But, I guess if that works, it works. But, hoping that TL will adapt to Todds Backyard (Outside the enclosed potty garden where she lives now),  I thought that I would let our little torti girl out on the porch to investigate her future home. And, she had quite the time!

One of the first things she did, was wander off of the porch and  find the pond. When she is attracted to water it usually means that she’s thirsty. So, before she plunged head first into the pond to drown, we turned the hose on the pavers and she waded and drank to her heart’s content….then made her way in the opposite direction, to explore some more!

Ohhhh! Prickly pear fruits…TL’s favorite! So, she made her way into the yard, finding all of the fallen fruit, (prickly pear). But what was really cool is that she got to discover the fruit herself, instead of being offered on a platter of  veggie delicacies. She sampled various fallen fruits as she made her way deeper into Todd’s Backyard.

But then, to our surprise, she found her way back to her favorite spot!

Tomorrow, Todd will be working on TL’s new space….It will be outside! …It will be facing South! …..And she will be sleepy, sleepy, happy, happy, there this winter!

The Torta Lisa

Our lovely tortoise girl has become one of the family. Although, we have not been able to settle on a name, ( Todd calls her Gerti, Donna calls her Daisy, Mom calles her Torti), I call her Torta Lisa. It fits, as she is beautiful and she always has this mischievous little smile!

Or perhaps she’s just pissed off!

She really shouldn’t be!…Todd’s built her a spacious tort-house with designer touches and beautiful tortoise-friendly landscaping…She seems to find it very agreeable as she is spending a lot of time there!

She has a lush yard of grass and clover for grazing. We’ve found that her very favorite treat is prickly pear fruit. Lucky for her, it’s just starting to ripen, so she will be able to get her fill, before she hibernates.

Plus, the prickly pear provide a soothing facial treatment, perfect for her delicate complexion!

She finds her way in the house about every other day, where she does laps around the kitchen and living room. Torta-L is committed to keeping in shape! Although, she sometimes finds a comfy place to take a little nap from time to time…

Her obvious vanity rears its head when she constantly flirts with her admirers as she makes her rounds!

For Baily, it’s a severe case of puppy love!

But how could anyone not love her! She may be a little vain, but she is funny, friendly and well-mannered…(Well, she did potty in the living room once!) But, luckily, her shit doesn’t stink! (Lulu obviously doesn’t think so either, since she likes to eat it!) (Gag!!!) Bad Lulu! Maybe it’s just a jealousy/girly thing?

But, we really do love having Torta (gerti-daisy-torti) Lisa as part of our family. We will miss her, for a few months, when she goes into hibernation this fall. I’ve got some great pics though, so we can gaze into her lovely face from time to time, when we are pining for her!

‘The Torta Lisa’…Classic!

In the house!

Todd has been killing himself building the perfect habitat and house for our new TBY resident….a desert tortoise named____??? Originally, we were going to call her Arby, but, it really doesn’t fit…she has sooo much personality, she needs a special name! Anyway, her backyard condo is going to be incredible when it’s done. Right now, it’s still  a work in progress…

After some initial disinterest, ‘Torti girl’ has decided to make it her home. It took a terrible monsoon thunderstorm the other night, for her to appreciate her new digs…Todd had to pluck her out of the bushes where she was sitting in an inch of water, trying to weather the storm, and he put her in her new house. We found her still there in the morning.


Our tortoise has really made herself at home!…In more ways than one!

It only took her one day to find the doggy door!

Un-phased by the dogs or other household hubbub, she marched right in the house, into our bedroom. It was our dog Lulu, that got my attention, and showed me her new buddy was in the house!

This is one of  her new favorite hang outs. She crawls up into the doggy bed full of doggy toys and sets a while, then makes her way to the bottom shelf of the bookcase  to take a longer nap.  She has done this now, at the same time every day for the past 2 days.

Today, she went a bit further..

She thought that she would share Zoe’s cubby hole. I had to grab ‘torti’ and put her outside, since I didn’t know exactly how her kitty sister would take the intrusion. But, once I put her back out the doggy door, she goes back to her tortoise paradise.

I can’t believe how this tortoise has a mind of her own…stubborn, courageous and sweet. Cooper, Baily and Zoe are in love, as are their parents!

Tortoise Among Us!

We’ve been talking about adopting a desert tortoise for some time. Todd’s Backyard would be the perfect home for one (there actually may be some here, but we’ve never seen them). We would also love the opportunity to expand the variety of natural desert dwellers. As fate would have it, we got our wish last night!

After a botched attempt to meet up with friends for some Saturday night socializing…(we got lost in Tucson trying to find the party…aaggrrhhh), we sadly went back home to spend the evening pouting. Todd decided to go to Arbys to get some dinner. He returned, not with the medium roast beef sandwich I had expected. But, with a rather large tortoise!

Apparently, on the way to Arbys, he found it sitting in the middle of a busy street. Since there wasn’t any natural desert around, Todd decided the best thing to do was bring it home, as it would surely get run over!

So, meet the newest member of the family….

A beautiful, 20 something year old girl (I’m pretty sure) We are thinking about calling Arby! But, we are open to suggestions!

We put her in the ‘potty garden’ (a lush, fenced in area in the backyard) equipped with all the features required desert tortoise digs…Except a burrow- Today, Todd is building one and turning the area into a ‘fairytale’ tortoise habitat for her.

For now, she is busy marching around her new yard, investigating her surroundings.  Hopefully, she will be happy here! The dogs have met her…Cooper is scared of her. Baily and Lulu are like….’whatever’. They gave her a little sniff and went about their business.

It’s going to be a learning experience, and is likely to be tortally cool adventure!