Monday, July 20, 2009

Mopey Monday

Today was one of those days when I was sure it would be a good day... and it wasn't. It wasn't exactly a bad day, but everytime I had a plan, it was squashed. I will try for a do-over tomorrow. When I got to the office, I found that the John Deere Gator that we use to haul garbage, etc was not parked in its usual spot. I started it up and it was running fine. When I put it in gear though, it wouldn't move. I figured that it had dropped its drive belt or something. I was going to take care of some other things and come back to it if I had time later in the morning.
I was really looking forward to blowing off the walkway this morning. My phone is also an MP3 player and when I am using loud equipment, I wear headphones that block the noise of the equipment and allow me to hear my music. It is very therapeutic when I am doing mindless noisy work, I can get lost in my own little world. I just have to keep an eye out for visitors so that I can turn off the noisemaker and talk to them or at least make sure I am not dancing or doing something embarrassing. About a month ago, the cord of my headphones got caught on something as I was walking and it broke. I just got a replacement set and I was anxious to do some leaf blowing. On my way, I saw a giant spider that I had to get a photo of. I believe that it is a Huntsman Spider. It looks big and scary, but it didn't mind having a camera in its face and Huntsman Spiders are not a danger to humans. Some people may see the pattern on its body and think that this is a Brown Recluse. The eye arrangement is wrong for a Recluse and this spider has spikes on its legs, unlike a Brown Recluse.
When I got down to the spring dock to start leaf blowing, I had to take a minute to enjoy the peaceful morning. I saw a turtle sunning itsself on the bank. The disturbance in the surface of the water was another turtle going under water to avoid me. There were also some little minnows swimming in the now, very shallow water on the rocks. I enjoyed watching their shadows on the rock which made them look much bigger than they were. Once I finally got down to starting the leaf blower... it wouldn't. Our leaf blower is very particular about the starting procedure. If you are off the slightest bit, you will flood the engine and it won't start for an hour or more. Well, I was off. The leaf blower usually likes me best and there has only been one other time that I couldn't start it. That alone should have indicated the day that I would have. With leaf blowing out of the question, I got started on Monday paperwork.
When I was done with paperwork, I set to work on the Gator. I lifted the bed to get to the engine and all the pieces-parts. I found that the belt was in place and everything else looked like it was working properly. After a quick look through the owner's manual, I decided to open up the clutch and blow the dust out of it. That is where I found the problem, there was a broken piece inside. I called and got one estimate for repair. I needed some time to let that shock hit me. I went about the rest of my normal Monday procedures and decided that I would think about the Gator later.
When I got back from Ichetucknee, I was driving down our service road and saw a Gopher Tortoise. These are amazing creatures who are really the good samaratins of the Florida upland ecosystem. The Gopher Tortoise digs a burrow which it lives in. These tortoises do not swim in water like the river turtles. They usually live in hot, dry areas. The burrows allow them to regulate their body temperature, the deeper they go, the cooler it gets. The burrow also provides them with shelter in case of fire. They usually live in areas where fire is natural. I call them good samaratins because there are hundreds of species of living things that also utilize Gopher Tortoise burrows for some of the same reasons. I don't know about you, but I don't think I would invite rattlesnakes, mole crickets, or any of the others to hang out in the burrow that I had worked hard to dig. They are a species of special concern in Florida, meaning that their population is declining but they are not yet threatened or endangered. Because of their species of special concern status, it is illegal to keep them as pets or catch them for any reason. They are declining in numbers for several reasons. People like to eat them, they travel quite a bit to get to different food sources and are often hit on roads, also they are prone to a highly contagious upper respiratory infection which is deadly to them. It is important, if you come across a Gopher Tortoise to leave it alone. So often, people will try to 'help' a turtle that they see in a place that seems unfit for the turtle. Unfortunately, some people will take them to water, where they don't want to be or try to take them to a state park. Moving a Gopher Tortoise may spread the respiratory illness or introduce a healthy turtle to it. The best thing to do to help nature is to let it be natural, leave it alone.
When I got back to the office, I planned to get another estimate on the Gator repair and then head to Adams Tract to take the blades off of the lawn mower to get them sharpened. Guess again! I ended up responding to e-mails and waiting over an hour for a call back with an estimate. I never did get the call, I called back myself. All of that left me with not enough time to get to Adams Tract and take care of what I needed to. Tomorrow is another day, hopefully I will be able to tackle everything on my list.

1 comment:

Ranger Amy said...

***New Information*** I was mistaken when I said that the Gopher Tortoise is a a species of special concern. Its status has been changed to Threatened. That means that their numbers have declined even more and they are at more risk. They will however, have stronger protection by law. Here is the breakdown:
Rule 68A-27.004: The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is hereby declared to be threatened, and shall be afforded the protective provisions specified in this paragraph. No person shall take, attempt to take, pursue, hunt, harass, capture, possess, sell or transport any gopher tortoise or parts thereof or their eggs, or molest, damage, or destroy gopher tortoise burrows, except as authorized by Commission permit or when complying with Commission approved guidelines for specific actions which may impact gopher tortoises and their burrows. A gopher tortoise burrow is a tunnel with a cross-section that closely approximates the shape of a gopher tortoise. Permits will be issued based upon whether issuance would further management plan goals and objectives.