Tuesday, 28 May 2013


THE BIG STORY IS THAT GATOR FARMS HAVE SAVED THE ALLIGATOR FROM EXTINCTION----AND--- CREATED A LARGE INDUSTRY.  PRIVATE ENTERPRISE AND ECOLOGY HAVE CONVERGED IN THIS ONE CASE.  PERHAPS THE PRINCIPLES LEARNED HERE CAN SAVE MOST OF THE WORLD'S ENDANGERED SPECIES.  The principle---simply put---is to find a way to make it PROFITABLE to do so.  Each species may require a different, imaginative approach.  Profitable TOURISM might save the elephant.  Creating a legal market for rhino horns might save the Rhino.  Entrepreneurs could raise them for their valuable horns. (do they grow back when cut off?)  

News flash:  it turns out that smart and sensible people are waaaay ahead of me.  Preserving endangered species by sustainable use is the aim of this already existing organization---to which---most of the world's nations already subscribe.  Good work and sensible policies are being implemented across the globe.(go CITES!!!)

The small story is the quasi-dynasty my sister and her husband have spawned.  I will speculate on that at the end.   But first I will wrap up the gator story with things I never knew and things perhaps you've never seen.

Gator eggs must be gathered in the wild.  Their nest are best spotted from the air ---in June---often around the full moon.  This ultralite was used for the first years.  Now of course he uses his helicopter---spots a nest---pushes a button and the gps remembers the exact location --- relayed to a ground crew.  They take all the eggs and incubate them. At 87 degrees the egg will develop into a female gator.  At 91 degrees a male.  At 89 degrees a mix of male and female.  Jeff prefers males--they grow bigger---worth more---but not by a lot.  
 As he gives me the story---we walk around his ranch---shows me his pet elk---has had him for years---shows me the accumulated antlers.
 Ducks, chickens and that Vietnamese pig--which curiously does not need to be fed---fends for himself.
 shows me his private dock and motorboat on the beautiful Ouachita river. (pronounced wash-I-taw)
 This critical piece of equipment---heater---maintains a near constant 89 degree water temperature.
 by mixing hot with cold water.
 And it costs a bit of money to operate.  During a cold winter he might use a whole tankful of propane in a 2 week period.
 Ignore the next few pictures if you're squeamish---he let me witness the "harvest".
As with cattle butchering---new ways of killing are  instantaneous to prevent suffering.  
 I watched Skilled hands carefully separate meat from hide.
 It wholesales for $9 a pound ---demand is always greater than supply.
Cases of meat carefully packed and stored at zero degrees. (coldest room I've ever been in) 
 The really valuable stuff---premium hides of 3 year old alligators---I was tempted to ask how many of them it took to buy that helicopter---but I didn't.  Interestingly all these hides go to Thailand for further processing.
 Meet a real Crocodile Dundee---he single handedly cornered and killed this "nuisance" gator that was endangering a family. (It ate the family dog)
 Sis shows off a gift from her son Jeff----the end product ---an alligator handbag.
They cost thousands.
 I managed one photo of the patriarch of this dynasty---Dr. Al.  I asked him what he had done right to spawn so productive a batch of kids.  He said he had only offered a small piece of advice to Jeff:  Told him he should Go Big. 
 The doc was quite a hunter.  Over the years he has allowed me to pick his medical brain when I was in trouble.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I think what my sister Bobby Jean and Al did different in raising their kids----over and beyond being decent loving parents was to HAVE A PERSONAL LIFE  THEMSELVES----and---- EXPECT---(ALLOW) each of their kids to invent their own life---to gradually discover their own fascinations and find a way to contribute to society.  Not demanding DETAILED  OBEDIENCE---they simply set and enforced broad Boundaries and then supported each one as they felt their way to Autonomy.  Well done sis---I love you and your family.

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