The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Perfect temporary part time job


Photo: Leghorn cockerel

Photo: Leghorn cockerel

“Can you handle live worms? That’s what the turtles eat.”
My stomach churned. I generously gave Danny the delight of tipping the worms into the dog poo composter last week.
“Of course I can.” Proud to the bitter end.
“There are not many worms in here at the moment but don’t worry, when you come to feed them there will be plenty.”
I peered into the small tin. Lots of sandy stuff and a few worms. Fine.

S tossed a few into the tank and a very capacious reptile guzzled the lot. I was fascinated by her. An ‘ancient’ head and neck zeroed in on the live worms. Her jaws masticated each worm in seconds. When there wasn’t a worm she hopefully pointed her snout above the waterline.
“But what about the others? Surely they need to eat too.”
S explained that there are four turtles in the tank.
“The other three are happy under the sand. They feed but not as much as the big one.” They were a lot smaller than the mega turtle who is clearly training for ‘who can eat the most worms in the least time’ turtle Olympics 2012. She was enormous compared to the one male who raised his head to see what was going on and then snuggled back in the sand. The other females were the same size as the dimunitive male. That huge turtle could go places.
“What do I do if she gets out of the tank?”

I’ve got a part time job for two weeks in July! Looking after the Chicken Lady’s smallholding. Chickens, ducks, rabbit, fish (cold water and exotic) and just one enchanting cat (Margot who loves food, the occasional stroke and the feeding wander about the house) is easy.

The turtles might be a problem. How can I wake the three slimline wannabe fashion model turtles and encourage them to eat? The chance of being spotted to pose for the latest cool turtle gear must be near to zero here in the heart of the country.

Overall I’m delighted. I can’t do a full days work just yet but I can do this!

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Rob

    Thanks for that.

    Hi KateH

    Fingers crossed that she doesn’t escape!

    Hi Jo

    Rubber gloves – great idea. Thanks.

    Hi Magic Cochin

    Yes I’m thrilled. It’s a very special place indeed.

    Hi Cookie Girl

    I’m really looking forward to it. First paid job for 11 months. Yeah!

    Hi Ruth

    Rubber gloves are the perfect answer.

    Hi Pamela

    Chopsticks – what a novel idea! I bet The Chicken Lady has a pair tucked away somewhere…

    Hi Judy

    Thanks for setting me straight on that front. Much appreciated!

  2. Amphibians include salamanders, frogs, and toads.

    Reptiles include turtles, snakes, and lizards.

    The study of reptiles and amphibians is called herpetology.

  3. Pamela

    I think chopsticks may be the way to go!

  4. Ruthdigs

    This sounds like just the thing, and go for the rubber gloves I reckon – it’ll make you feel more comfortable. Enjoy it!

  5. Cookie Girl

    You’re braver than me ! Well done on the part-time job – that sounds like a lot of fun.

  6. Magic Cochin

    What a perfect part time job for you to look forward too.

    As for worms – it’s taken me years to be able to pick up a worm, even with gloves on! Good luck with the turtles.

    I’m sure you’ll have a lovely time making friends with Martha.


  7. Something about worms ‘en masse’ that is truly disgusting. Rubber gloves might help!!

  8. Kate H.

    Amphibian, I believe?

    Anyway, good on you for getting the gig. So what does happen if Big Mama Turtle decides to go a-roving?

  9. Thank you, Rob. You are quite correct. Now changed to “reptile”.

  10. Technically, I don’t believe turtles are ‘invertebrates’ but I may be mistaken.

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