Sunday, 7 December 2008

In which the CFO has had his last decent night's sleep until February

Enough complaining, enough pictures of my children, enough Chr*stmas, enough quaintly disturbing Belgian customs. I know what the people want. The people want HIBERNATION WATCH. Yes! Today is The Day. I only learnt this myself at around six this evening.

"What, NOW?" I say, horrified, to the CFO. "You only gave them a bath this morning! They were wide awake!"

"Yes. I just can't stand it anymore" he says, hunched over his spreadsheet. "If not now, when? I just can't get the weight length ratio optimal; and if we leave it too late the timing gets complex. "

"But, but.. I thought you wanted those individual thermo-stable ice cream containers to store them in? I haven't got any!"

"It must. be. today" he says through gritted teeth. "Find me some boxes"

A thorough rummage through my secret cupboard yields two old macaroon boxes, a Shinzi Katoh glass box, and a rather stylish wooden box from Royal Bosch containing two ultra fine white porcelain votive holders I can't bear to give away yet. All are sacrificed on the altar of tortoise comfort. The CFO takes his power drill and makes several holes in each. We head downstairs to where the CFO has dragged the tortoise house outside to cool its inhabitants down.

"Have you checked their ears are flat and they don't have runny noses or an offensive smell?" I ask anxiously.

"Of course I have. Now get a bloody tortoise and put it in a box"

"But, but, they're still awake! And all scrabbly! Isn't that inhumane?"

"We'll leave them out here for an hour or so pre-refrigeration. It's 6 degrees. The fridge is 5°. They'll be pretty calm once they're cool"

We start packing tortoises in boxes. Carapuce looks at me with an unfathomable tortoise expresssion as I shut the lid of his box on him. I can hardly bear to look and am filled with foreboding. The largest one does not fit in the largest box, provoking an outburst of shakass and jesuzemann. Even when they are all neatly packed away, the dreadful noise of small scrabbly claws worrying at cardboard fills the room.

"Google wasn't this lively when we put her in hibernation!" I whimper.

"If you recall, Google was also dead when we removed her from hibernation" says the CFO levelly.

"Don't, this is stressing me out enough without a reminder of that, thanks. You are finding this horribly stressful too, aren't you?"

"We've done our best. Now shut that box and we'll leave them to cool". Despite his apparent zen fatalism, the CFO pours us both a large vodka. There is an odd throbbing pulse visible on one side of his temple. We drink the vodka swiftly and get another.

An hour later, we are stacking tortoise boxes in the fridge. The spawn are impressively disinterested, as ever; Lashes wonders whether if we put them in the freezer they will turn into tortoise ice lollies and mimes licking them elaborately. We try to discourage his desire for experimentation. I am moaning feebly.

"I don't liiiike this! I had just decided on a name for my tortoise if it survives hibernation too. I'm going to call her Hadron Collider"

"Well, hopefully you still can. If we don't need her for body parts."

Does not contain macaroons.

"Please tell me noone is moving in there at least"

"Shut up, will you? It's not helping"

Squalor watchers will observe the 'nature morte' in the drawer above, featuring two ancient, yellowing savoy cabbages.

We shut the fridge door and look at each other grimly.

"You definitely did everything you could" I reassure the CFO, putting a tentative hand on his shoulder. "Noone could have been more thorough in tortoise husbandry".

He exhales through his nose and grinds his teeth. I fear this will make for a tense six weeks.


katyboo1 said...

I'm beginning to feel fairly tense myself and they're not even my tortoise(s). I will have a word with cheezus and stuff and sacrifice some mince on a dustbin lid for you too, once the verandah has thawed.
Good name by the way.

Potty Mummy said...

Shakass! I know it's the right thing and all, but how did you have the nerve to go through with it? And what do you do if you open the fridge door for a late night nibble and there is....SCRABBLING in the bottom drawer?

Oh god, I'm going to have nightmares.

justme said...

mEEEEEEKKKKKK! I have been wondering what was happening with them, and yess indeed it is getting a bit late in the season.....but....EEEEEKKKKK! in your FRIDGE???? Could you not have got one of those mini fridges for drinks and popped them in there? In beside your veggies....NOOOOO.....its not right.
I hope they survive.
But how will you know???
They may turn into surophim ( my word veri)
without yoy even knowing....

expateek said...

OMG, I feel sick with anxiety! Pour me a vodka too. The scritching claws are tearing at my soul.

Not to mention the disturbingly small hands of that stable-boy in your photos. Are you sure his head-to-hand ratio is normal? Because his head looks extremely extremely huge as he squats above the crisper drawer.

Oh wait. I forgot, he is the CFO. His head is stuffed overfull with numbers and suchlike.

This explains everything.

La Belette Rouge said...

If I were you I would make him get a tortoise fridge just for such events. I just told He-weasel what you were all up to and asked if it was okay to put them in the fridge. "Yeah, sure. I would put them in a box and put them in the garage." Here I have gone my life not knowing that turtles hibernate and I ask my weasel and he seems to be an expert. Just goes to show me that I don't know everything about my woozle.

Anonymous said...

Delivery pizzas from now until February! Now I see that tortoises are ideal pets in so many ways--they take up bothersome room in the fridge that would otherwise store ingredients. PS - Is the CFO playing "Left for Dead" by any chance?

peevish said...

This whole scenario is so bizarre, and I am speaking as a person who once had a pet hedgehog. I don't think I could ever stand to have multiple pets which require refrigeration. In the same appliance where my produce lives/dies/rots. On second thought, now that I've typed it out it makes perfect sense.

Also: chakass. Is it chaque-ass? Like, each ass? What the hell does it mean? I need to know because I can't stop saying it.

Z said...

Only 6 weeks? When I hibernate,I sleep all through February.

nappy valley girl said...

I hope you don't have a power cut between now and February!

(word verification is alsono)

Jaywalker said...

Katyboo - thanks. All help gratefully received.

PM - Shakass indeed. No. There will be no late night snacking, because that thought right there has just killed my appetite for EVER. Mm. This could be an interesting diet plan/money making scheme. Anti-snacking tortoises in your fridge for rent.

Justme - how indeed. We knew Google was dead only by warming her up and her not waking up. The CFO thought her eyes were a little sunken, but it was a close call..

Expateek - scritch scritch. I know! Yes. Freakishly large head full of cunning plans and numbers.

Belette - I am not suprised at He-Weasel. We are after all talking about the snapping turtle saviour..

Vanessa - I like your thinking. I have disposed of the cabbages and am not planning to buy any more food until, ooh, February at the earliest.

Peevish - speaking from experience, a single pet requiring refrigeration is no less alarming. It lurks in the crisper drawer in its wooden coffin, startling you everytime you need cucumber. I truly don't know about shackass/chaqueass. I was going to ask this morning, but I didn't like the cut of his jib.

Z - ah, if only.

NVG - An additional source of anxiety! Argh. CFO will probably craft a back-up generator out of coat hangers and potatoes if I mention it...

Juci said...

Why on earth do they need to be refrigerated anyway? Would they die otherwise? Although it might not be worth the trouble and the anxiety if they croak anyway.
WV is 'woryt', relevant as ever.

Anonymous said...

OMG you use the FRIDGE? Can they breathe? Well, obviously, they CAN (poor Google!) but the concept does sound a little extreme. I hope the CFO is coping ok. Give the man another drink!

I gave Hubby a Hermanns hatchling as a wedding present - the idea being that she(?) would last the marriage out, even if we managed 60 years. She is now just turned five, and I suppose we should think about hibernating her - but to be honest, she generally just goes up the cold end of the (indoors) tortoise house and goes a bit torpid for a few months. She still moves about and has a munch if there's something tasty in the dandelion line on offer, but she's less keen on racing around her hutch in the cold months. There is a bathing dish available, but I have never bathed her. I hope this isn't bad?!

Welsh Girl said...

The stress of this is terrible. I'm going to have to have therapy. They did get pretty boxes though - much nicer than the ice cream box plan (though I would happily have helped to eat the necessary ice cream for you).

Iheartfashion said...

I'm quivering with anticipation.
I hope some hapless babysitter doesn't open the Laduree box for a snack...

Fat Controller said...

Chris Trace and Valerie Singleton never had this much trouble with Fred, the Blue Peter tortoise. They just painted his name on his shell and shoved him under a pile of leaves in the Blue Peter garden for the duration.

It makes me glad we only have Son's Corn Snake, Crowley, to worry about, with his dead mice in the freezer or thawing out on the radiators.

Jaywalker said...

The fridge is totally proper tortoise practice people. Is because of global warming innit.

Juci - I know. It's just awful.

HFF - Oh, lord, I don't know. I think the CFO would say it might reduce her life expectancy. I'll check if you like...

Welsh Girl - I think everyone could do with some ice cream after such a trauma-tastic day..

Iheart - Onoes! I hadn't even thought of that. Ha. That would teach them to go foraging..;

FC - they probably had about 20 replacement stunt tortoises! Also see above, global warming. The mice sound, um, delighful.

J. said...

I'm confused. Why do you have to hibernate them? We have a tortoise, and we've never hibernated him; we were told by the reptile specialist vet that if we kept him (the tortoise, not the vet) warm enough to keep eating crickets and veggies through the winter in a tank with a heat lamp, he would never need to be hibernated. We've had him over 15 years now, sans hibernation.

Once my husband put a tortoise in his (very kind and accomodating) neighbor's freezer, but that was because the tortoise was dead, and the pet store where he bought it (and which had inconvenient open hours) required the corpse in order to process a refund. If one of your tortoises doesn't make it (God forbid), and your freezer is full, and you haven't met your neighbors yet, it could be an excellent icebreaker...

Jaywalker said...

Oh, J, this is a debate for the CFO, not me. All I can tell you is that he tells me it is the done thing for this species. And the man has studied the topic extensively. The 'can I put my tort in your freezer' beats 'can I borrow a cup of sugar' any day! Though obviously, hopefully not necessary. Pipe down over there in the crisper!

bevchen said...

Ohmygosh, I can actually hear the scrabbling!! I've always thought I'd quite like a tortoise as a pet, now I'm not so sure.

justme said...

Maybe you should at least label the boxes.....'Live not eat' I am worried about the babysitter now.....

Helena said...

Squirrels in London have totally given up on hibernation, now that there is litter and fried chicken for them to eat in abundance all year round.
Haven't seen any tortoises though.

Jaywalker said...

Bevchen - the tortoise has deceptively good PR in terms of being low maintenance. It's a LIE unless you live in, like, Turkey or somewhere.

Justme - I promise to warn any sitters. I wouldn't want you losing more sleep over this..

Helena - Squirrels hibernate? Really? You've taught me something.

Helena said...

Country squirrels do, urban ones not so much. They wrap themselves in their tail and it is very cute indeed.

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