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.