The Empire of Jeremiah Swakhammer

A heartwarming tale for your Sunday evening: Mr. Jeremiah Swakhammer’s new abode is complete. It took two days in temps with the heat index over 100F (roughly 38C), although at least we were working in a shaded area. The siting of Mr. Swakhammer’s mighty Empire was determined by 1) the morning sun 2) the shade during the hottest part of the day and 3) how far I can reach without getting out the Long Hose.

Speaking of hose, my friend C came over yesterday to help with laying the foundation, bringing with her Musket, who is 5 1/2 months old now (I am often sketchy on ages, this is the latest figure from C though so go with it). Is Musket fun? Oh my GOD is he fun. He loves to chase the water from a hose. LOOOOOVES it and if you spray it straight at his face he will be all “WHAAAAARGARBL” and snap at it and let you shoot it straight down his throat until he starts making weird gurgling noises and you have to stop so he can catch his breath. He is totally the perfect puppy, personable, curious, willing to give you his attention and work, energetic, handsome, and also belonging to C, who took him home with her at the end of the day so I didn’t have to deal with a waterlogged puppy. If you are looking for a working dog, and I mean here a dog who actually needs some work so he doesn’t decide to dismantle your house or something, look no further because seriously, he is a great puppy and is going to grow up to be a fantastic dog.

Wait, what, you wanted to hear about the Empire of Jeremiah Swakhammer? Right. I have pictures! Please forgive me if my alt tags aren’t up to their usual snuff, I am kind of incoherent after two days in the heat. Also I got no pics yesterday of the laying of the foundation, so, y’know, you’ll just have to suck it up and we’ll start with the building of the walls:
Four two inch by ten inch by ten foot boards rest in a square on a foundation of red twelve inch by twelve inch pavers.  A man in a white t-shirt and khaki shorts straddles one of the boards in the background, he holds a hammer in his right hand.  A section of four inch by four inch lumber, cut to twenty inches high, stands upright at the corner of the board opposite the man.  In the middle of the square, amid mounded dirt, sit plants in pots.  The area is dappled with sunlight but mostly in shade from the tall oak trees around it.

While my friend Rod was building the walls, I was in there digging holes for plants, placing hides and a small pool, and then shoveling leaf litter in that I stole from other parts of the property, the idea being to give Jeremiah Swakhammer the kind of forest floor environment he is used to:
The walls of the pen have now been constructed, so they are twice as high as in the last picture.  In the center of the pen, a piece of one inch by four inch lumber runs straight down the middle, supported at both ends and in the middle by more pieces of four by four.  In fact, Rod is placing the middle piece of four by four in this picture, taking care to avoid the plants, pool, and hides that have now been placed around the enclosure.  The floor is no longer mounded dirt, but covered in a thin layer of straw that is barely visible in places through the thicker layer of dead oak leaves that have been been spread throughout.

I sacrificed a couple pieces of firewood to make a hide, and added a large rock and then chunks of turf that had been removed during the laying of the foundation:
A view into Hide One.  A wedge-shaped piece of firewood whose length is indeterminate from this picture, sits to the right.  Propped up on it at one end and resting on the ground on the other is another wedge-shaped piece of firewood.  The interior is dark, but from this angle you CAN kinda tell that the back is topped with turf.  Petunias with pink flowers on them are planted in front of it.

Yet another piece of firewood sacrificed to make a hide. You can also see the Feeding Rock. That’s a Hosta on the left and the cantaloupe vine on the right.
A section of oak log, not too huge, rests on the ground, except you can kinda tell that there is a space dug out underneath it in case a turtle would like to hide there.  To the left of the log are the green leaves of a hosta, to the right of the logs a brave little cantaloupe vine puts out a yellow flower.  Behind the log is a square grey tile of slate to be used for offerings of food.

Finally, here it is all done and closed up so as to thwart Raccoons and other predators who might wish to make a snack of turtle:
A view of turtletopia with the top closed.  The top is two five foot by ten foot frames, which have strong hardware cloth attached to the underneath.  They are hinged, and on the left side in this picture you can see a handle on each so they can be opened more easily.

Anyhoo, Mr. Swakhammer will move into his new digs either later tonight or early tomorrow before I leave for work, when it’s cool out and he can explore a little bit and discover the hides and the pool and stuff. At some point, probably after I bring him in for the winter and the plants have died (although hostas at least are perennials! If they live…) I will add about 6″ of topsoil to the whole thing for better plant-growing conditions. I think this will work out for now, though, as long as I keep it watered and the plants don’t die. Speaking of keeping it watered, I think we’re about to get a thunderstorm. Well, the sky has gone dark and it just thundered, anyway, which was met by barking from Ms. Tink. When Big Sky Dog growls, you must respond to the challenge, lest Big Sky Dog think a territory is undefended, you know.

Tags: , ,

Comments (12) | Life at the Manor — Tags: , , — Andrea @ 1612 on 27 June, 2010

12 Responses to “The Empire of Jeremiah Swakhammer”

  1. Tamena
    1746 on June 27th, 2010

    *squee!!* I ? pictures

  2. aliceq
    1801 on June 27th, 2010

    Your hostas should be fine. I’m in zone 6 (becoming 5, due to climate change, but still), and my hostas do fine over the winter. They die back completely, and then come back in the sprint.

  3. Andrea
    1807 on June 27th, 2010

    I’m in zone 7 but nearly in 6, depending on which version of the zone map you use. Lord knows the hostas around the oak tree out front die a horrible death each winter but do come back in the spring.

  4. Tamena
    1145 on June 28th, 2010

    the hosta will thrive and get bigger each season till you will want to divide and transplant it all over the place.

    do you want white clover seed too? I have about a 1/4 lb here I can send some down…it grows REALLY easily

  5. Andrea
    1907 on June 29th, 2010

    Oo, hey, white clover seed would probably be good. He can eat it, or it can just work as a nitrogen fixer so I can grow him more stuff!

  6. Selma
    1900 on June 27th, 2010

    What a fabulous domain for JS! As for your Hosta, it will be just fine. One of the best shade plants ever. Period. I have a variety in my postage stamp yard, some of which are in pots, and THEY come back every year.

  7. Andrea
    1920 on June 29th, 2010

    Yeah, I have ’em under an oak tree in the front yard and they haven’t spread but they are nice and healthy. The ones near the house didn’t make it through this past winter for some reason, though. Or something ate them.

  8. meloukhia
    2238 on June 27th, 2010

    I’m pretty sure that Mr. Swakhammer’s abode is officially Nicer Than Mine.

  9. Andrea
    1920 on June 29th, 2010

    If you masquerade as a homeless quadruped, I will probably take you in and build you a habitat. Something like this, probably: http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/houses/fencl/

  10. Katie
    2335 on June 28th, 2010

    THIS. IS. AWESOME!!!!! I kinda want you to find Jeremiah Swakhammer a girlfriend now (well, a friend in general, unless turtles prefer their solitude as opposed to mates and cohabitation)…but only if you absently find one meandering away from home, or another person brings you one!

  11. Tamena
    1111 on June 29th, 2010

    NICE!! Ma’am? You’ve officially been JINXED now you know LOL

    **wondering how many habitats can be placed on one property before it can be considered a tax exempt sanctuary???**

  12. Andrea
    1906 on June 29th, 2010

    It’s more a matter of filing a bunch of complicated paperwork, really, to get certified as a charity. And I’d have to get state licensing to be a wildlife rehabilitator refuge type deal. All very troublesome, so I think I’ll stick with what I’ve got going!

Leave a Reply