A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Friday, June 12, 2015


With a second born allergic to dogs and cats ... and Eli being allergic to cats (and seriously disliking them), and honestly allergic to dogs as well, we knew that having a dog or a puppy or something similar is out of the question for us. Which has been kinda sad. We love dogs - especially huskies - and with four little boys, it almost seems wrong to not have them get a puppy and grow up with a dog around.

But not the Brooks. We can't risk it. One weekend with Matthias was a baby we stayed two nights with friends who had three dogs. Not realizing HOW allergic Reuben was. He had allergic reactions all over the place, and we nearly thought we were going to have to leave and get a hotel. Maybe we should have! We were using his inhaler, but the poor kid couldn't sleep at night because he was so congested and all sorts of junk. That's when we realized how bad his allergies were with dog hair.

So we switched our idea of pets to lizards or turtles. Eli was totally down with this, having worked at Pet World in town for years during middle school and high school. I just laid down my foot and said NO SNAKES!!! I can handle lizards and turtles just fine, but there are not going to be any snakes living in my house (at least not with my permission!!!!)

And as of the last several months, we decided that we might want a sulcata tortoise. They originate from the desert areas, and can grow up to 100 pounds and live nearly 100 years. Eli was quite thrilled with the idea it might help keep the grass mowed, and that the boys could learn to maybe ride one when they were little. I figured a vegetarian tortoise can eat leftover compost, grass, weeds, and sounded fairly low-maintenance. The boys? They just thought it sounded AMAZING!!!!

We waited a bit, thinking we would get a baby, which would mean a big set up inside for a few years before the tortoise would be big enough to live outside. On a whim, Eli went to Pet World several weeks ago to ask the owner if he might be able to get us a baby soon. He asked if we wanted a teenager!!!! Long story, but he knew of a teacher with a 16 year old sulcata that needed a new home. He was 55 pounds and getting to big to continue to live at the school, and be hauled to her house during summer break. He gave Eli her contact info, Eli called her, and the rest is history.

Or, the rest was a lot of work! She said Atlas could come live with us - which meant Eli (and my amazing dad) got to work building an 8x12 insulated house under our deck for Atlas. Complete with a good roof to keep out the rain, a door for us to go in, a little door for him to go in and out from, and all sorts of stuff. A Big Project! And actually still has a little to be done, but it's nearly there.

And Atlas moved in.

He is well loved. And all our neighbors are quite enthralled with him as well! As he lumbers around the yard eating clover, we love to watch him and I worry about him like he's a little baby. Is he warm enough? Does he seem happy with us? etc etc etc. Ridiculous, I know!

The boys are doing a great job taking care of him, checking on him morning and night. Cleaning up tortoise poop (which thankfully doesn't smell at all!), and the like. Matthias loves to slip on his boots and tromp after Jonah, who does most of the work. They are doing great with him.

We have had tons of rain the last month, which he doesn't like so well, so he has spent many days mostly in his house, but as the temps rise - and omigosh they are!!!! - we see him out and about more and more. And even a tortoise has a personality. He is determined to try and get into the shed. Even though we have now barricaded it because he figured out how to open the doors, yesterday he got past the barricades and go into there. Little/big Stinker. But we adore him. And since he has such a long life span, we will have him for quite a long time!!!!