George was enjoying school. He had made new friends, and the excitement of the first few days of school was becoming familiar. After school, he and his friends would walk to the library to look at picture books or his friends would trudge over to his home and play in the fields.
George and his friends loved exploring the back pastures with Lady and Athena. The dogs would keep an eye on the children, and the families felt safe letting the boys roam the pastures with the dogs close at hand.
George and his friends loved going to the little pond not far from the house. They would wade in the cool waters and try to catch little fish that darted about, or throw stones to see if they would skip. It was an idyllic life. One day, as the boys were wading in knee deep, they spotted something in the water. They looked closely and realized it was a turtle. Excited, they shouted happily as they tried to catch it. George had seen boxed turtles cross the dirt path by his house as the truck brought him home from school, but he couldn’t figure out what turtle this was. It had popped its head out for an instant and he noticed its mouth looked like a beak. Now, it had scurried and hid amongst some pebbles and stones underwater.
Brayden spoke up. “I think it’s a snapping turtle!” he said. “Watch out! They bite!” The boys laughed and moved away.
That evening over dinner, George discussed what he had seen at the pond. His parents thought it was interesting. As they talked about their day, they mentioned The Daily News – the local newspaper in town. George’s friend’s dad was a reporter. He worked for the local paper. He had had to go to the city on official business to cover a news story. As George tucked into his dinner enjoying the cheesy baked spaghetti, he listened to his family talk about the day’s events. His mother brought out a flaky apple pie from the oven. Elliana perked up! She loved apple pie. I wonder what snapping turtles eat? George wondered. That night as he lay in bed, he thought about the snapping turtle, and slowly drifted off to sleep.
The next morning as George arrived at school, he found out that his friend Noah’s father who was the reporter had not returned. The bell rang and the children got ready for class to begin.
After school, George ventured over to the library with Noah and Brayden. He wanted to find out more about snapping turtles, and the library was the place to be! They approached the kind librarian, who helped the boys in locating picture books on turtles.
“There’s the one we saw yesterday!” exclaimed Brayden.
“Shhh...” whispered Noah. “We’re in the library.”
Just then, there was a commotion outside. The boys ran out to look. It was Noah’s father! He had returned from the city with big news! He had gone to the city to report on a breaking news story. While there, they had discovered a scene of chaos amongst the city’s sewers. When a water line had broken and water supply to homes had been stopped, repairmen had been dispatched to set things right. But when they arrived in the sewers, they discovered an enormous creature that flailed and snapped at them. It was a huge alligator snapping turtle! How did a snapping turtle end up in the sewers? Noah’s father had done some sleuthing to investigate this unusual story. Now a news story was about to break!
The next day, the children eagerly anticipated the local newspaper. For there on the front page, making the headlines, was the investigation into the snapping turtle. After some sleuthing, Noah’s father had discovered that several years ago little snapping turtles had mysteriously disappeared from the zoo in the city and had never been located. It had been over a decade, and now they determined that the snapping turtle down the drain was from the zoo! It matched the timeframe and there was no other way they could think of as to how a giant alligator snapping turtle got into the drainage system. To George and his friends, it was certainly a story well worth the frontpage news!
Check out the real story behind the news story! https://www.theguardian.com/world/2000/nov/29/patrickbarkham
George and his family enjoyed an American casserole dish at the family table that night. Try the cheesy baked spaghetti that George enjoyed at dinner.
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken into thirds
½ cup milk
½ tsp salt
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
¼ cup chopped green bell pepper (capsicum)
1 jar (14 ounces) meatless spaghetti sauce, such as Ragu
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 to 2 cups (4 to 8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions; drain.
2. In a large bowl, beat the egg, milk and salt. Add spaghetti and toss to coat. Transfer to a greased 13in x 9in x 2in baking dish.
3. In a large skillet or frying pan, cook the beef, onion and green bell pepper (capsicum) over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
4. Stir in spaghetti sauce and tomato sauce. Spoon over the spaghetti mixture.
5. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F (180°C) for 20 minutes.
6. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
7. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with a green salad.
from: Heartland family
After dinner, the family ate an American favorite: apple pie. Here is the flaky apple pie recipe that Elliana loves!
5 ½ cups thinly sliced peeled apples (about 6 medium apples)
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
5-6 Tbsp cold water
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp sugar
1. In a large bowl mix the apple slices with sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss to coat.
2. In the meantime, make the pastry dough. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt, then cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with fork until dough comes together and forms a ball. Divide in half, making one half slightly larger than the other.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out larger half of dough to fit a 9-inch pie dish. Carefully transfer pastry to pie dish, and gently press into dish; trim excess pastry even with rim of dish.
4. Fill with apple mixture; dot with butter.
5. Roll out remaining half of pastry, lay over apples to cover and form crust, and press along rim to seal; flute as desired. With a paring knife, cut slits into pastry.
6. Brush with milk; sprinkle with sugar. Cover edges loosely with aluminum foil (tin foil).
7. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F (180°C); bake 40-50 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.
8. Cool on wire rack. Serve with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of cream.
from: Heartland family
Alligator Snapping Turtle facts:
- With their spiny shelled backs, thick scaly tail, large heads and a hooked beak, alligator snapping turtles certainly look unique.
- They can live up to 100 years old! Male alligator snapping turtles can weigh up to 200 pounds (about 90 kilogram), but females are smaller weighing around 50 pounds (about 23 kilograms).
- They are mainly aquatic animals only coming up to breathe every 40-50 minutes and spend most of their time in the water, staying at the bottom of muddy riverbeds to feed on prey.
- They use their tongues which have a bright red worm-like end to lure prey while they lie in wait on the river bottom.
- They feed mostly on fish and frogs, and are mainly carnivores, but have been known to eat small mammals and feed on vegetation.
- They are the largest freshwater turtle in North America.
- Alligator snapping turtles are found mainly in the southeastern United States in rivers and lakes.
- They have no known natural enemies except for humans who have hunted them for their meat, shells and the exotic animal trade.
- Their loss of habitat due to water pollution, commercial development and unregulated harvesting has resulted in them being protected by most states.