Sunday, September 5, 2010

Flying Armadillo

Who has driven through Texas and not seen armadillo road kill?  Because of this I’ve always pictured armadillos as blind, dumb, lumbering tanks too stupid to avoid vehicles.  Not necessarily so!

Armadillos are an amazing group of mammals from South America.  There are twenty different species of armadillos, all closely related to sloths and anteaters.  They have a hard bone shell and short strong legs well suited to digging.  They eat insects such as ants, beetles, and grubs.  Their tongues are sticky, like an ant-eater’s to better catch the insects.  Armadillos do dig little annoying holes in the yard to get at these delicacies, but the holes are not particularly destructive. 

Texas is populated by the nine-banded armadillo, a cute little creature.  We have a locally resident armadillo family at Roseland.  I’ve seen it many times in the evening and at night slowly crawling along the ground, digging for insects.  Usually it ignores me; it has poor eyesight.  But it does have good hearing and sense of smell.

One afternoon, as I was taking wedding pictures, I noticed an armadillo in the yard next to the rose garden.  I sneaked up on it, and clicked a picture.  The shutter’s small clicking noise must have alarmed it because it took off into the air and quickly disappeared.  It literally flew about 15 ft!  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at the following pictures.

Here are some interesting facts about the nine-banded armadillos of Texas:
•    Contrary to popular belief, the nine-banded armadillo cannot roll into a ball to escape predators.  It must rely on its armor, speed, and agility to survive. 
•    The female always gives birth to four identical young from the same egg.
•    Some females have been known to delay birth for up to two years after fertilization to compensate for stressful situations.
•    Armadillos are excellent swimmers (they do the armadillo paddle which is similar to dog paddle).
•    Armadillos can go a long distance underwater, typically walking on the bottom; they can hold their breath for up to six minutes at a time.
•    Armadillos have been known to float long distances by gulping air into their intestines, essentially creating a balloon inside a shell.
•    The nine-banded armadillo is not a threatened species (its population is actually growing), but its ownership in the U.S. is regulated.  For example it’s illegal to own one in Maine, and Montana classifies it as livestock with the same requirements and restrictions as cattle.
•    Armadillos are edible (must be cooked thoroughly as they can carry leprosy); can be substituted for pork, chicken, or beef; and is part of the local diet in many parts of South America.
•    Armadillos have been used for research into leprosy, multiple births and other reproductive issues, HIV studies, skin and organ transplants, cancer, and more.

Armadillos are cute.  And yes, they can fly!  Come to Roseland Plantation in Ben Wheeler, TX, and see our flying armadillo.  You can learn more about armadillos at
One day, perhaps, I’ll tell you about flying pigs, too…


I’ve been quiet of late because I’ve been consumed by that favorite activity all of us face periodically:  Taxes.  I can no longer bear it, and must work on something else just to maintain sanity.  So I thought I’d work on the blog a bit.

I received a forward particularly applicable to Roseland Plantation the other day and thought I’d share it with y’all.  Hey, I’m allowed to say that – we’re in Ben Wheeler, Texas!

Please don't stop reading till you reach the end...

As you know, we have a wild pig problem here at Roseland Plantation.  In fact we have a wild pig problem in Texas.  For example, half of all U.S. ferile pigs reside here in Texas.  Yes, we have the largest population of ferile pigs in the entire country because
1.    They are prolific reproducers
2.    They are extremely canny, wary, crafty, and “street-wise”
3.    They are migrant and totally unpredictable.

Tough it may sound like I’m talking about people, I’m not.  I really am talking about wild pigs.  Let me give you an example.

Last year we created a beautiful wild flower garden at Roseland Plantation.  The idea was to make a terrific photo op for our brides.  And it was just beautiful – a sea of flowers.  Well, the pigs decided they liked it, too, and proceeded to make themselves at home.  They began by tilling a small, barely visible spot in the middle of the wild flowers.  Slowly, however, they got more comfortable with the situation, continued to enlarge their territory and destroy more and more of the wild flowers. 

They were tricky and unpredictable.  They would do some damage, then disappear for a while.  Sometime later they would come back unexpectedly to continue the process. 

We could sit out there all night every night for weeks and not see a pig.  Then one night, when we weren’t watching, they would show up and do their dirty work.  Ultimately they destroyed well over half of our wild flower field.

After about a month or two of this cat and mouse game (perhaps more appropriately called “man and pig game”), they were clearly winning.  One could now actually see the damage from a distance because they had destroyed the wild flower field to its edge, and it’s not fixable this year.

It’s too late to fix the mess they made.  The wild flower field looks horrible now and the season for planting is past.  The pigs destroyed something special and precious.  Perhaps we’ll be unable to recover for two years if they destroyed the seeds for next year’s crop of flowers.  We won’t know until next year, but as a minimum they cost us a lot of unnecessary work and money.
Roseland's Wild Flower Field Before the Pigs (June)
Same Wild Flower Field After the Pigs (August)

The whole process reminds me of Debbie’s battle with cancer.  At first it ate her internally; everything looked fine on the outside.  When the symptoms finally became visible, it was too late.  Irreparable damage had already been done; the outcome was determined long beforehand.  But let’s get back to the story about wild pigs.

Now we’re on the hunt for wild pigs, but we have been mostly unsuccessful.  They are well hidden and crafty. 

Then I received the following email.  (It has been modified slightly from the original.)  I thought it was most helpful for us hunting pigs at Roseland and will follow its instructions.  But it also holds a significant lesson for every American: 


There was a chemistry professor in a large college that had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab, the Prof noticed one young man, an exchange student, who kept rubbing his back and stretching as if his back hurt.

The professor asked the young man what was the matter.  The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country's government and install a new communist regime.  In the midst of his story, he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked:

"Do you know how to catch wild pigs?"  The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said that it was no joke.

"You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn.

“When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming.

“When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence.

“They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side.

 “The pigs, which are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat the free corn again.

 “One day unexpectedly you slam the gate shut on them and catch the whole herd. Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom.

“They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught.  Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.  Then you kill them and eat them."

The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening in America. The government keeps pushing us toward Communism/Socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income, tax cuts, tax exemptions, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies, payments not to plant crops (CRP), welfare, medicine, drugs, etc. while we continually give up our freedoms, just a little at a time.

Think about it.  The Bible says the debtor is slave to the lender:
•    Who owns your house?  The Government agency which ultimately holds the mortgage note.
•    Who owns the bank where you keep your money?  The Government which bailed it out and insures its contents.
•    Who owns the company that makes your vehicle?  The Government that owns its stock for bailing it out.
•    Who owns your health?  The Government who now mandates every detail of your health insurance – including prescriptions on how your illness is to be treated.
•    Who is responsible for your livelihood?  The Government who pays your unemployment, retirement, and most likely job through tax benefits, incentives, etc.
•    Who is responsible for your physical and financial well-being and safety (think regulations)?  The Government who regulates every aspect of our daily lives.
•    Who funds and defines the details of your children’s education?  The Government.
•    Where were most of the few stimulus package jobs created?  In the Government.
•    Who defines what you can and must say to be politically correct and acceptable?  The Government.  (By the way, our “politically correct” is functionally equivalent to Communism’s “party line.”)
•    Who owns you?  You guessed it - the Government… 

Little by little, in imperceptible steps based on good intentions and human logic, during the past century we have turned the Constitution upside down:  We have willingly become servants of the Government, not the other way around!  And we have none to blame but ourselves.  We have built our own trap and willingly entered it seeking free corn.  Like wild pigs in a trap, we are milling about gobbling up free corn blissfully unaware of the danger.

One should always remember two truths:
1.    There is no such thing as free corn.
2.    God created each of us with free will and made each of us responsible for ourselves, our family, and our nation - not a nation responsible for our family and us.

So God help you, me, and America the Beautiful when the trap’s gate slams shut because we’ve ignored these truths!  God help the Home of the Free, the Light to the World, the Dream of all oppressed peoples everywhere when the trap’s gate slams shut!  Because the trap’s gate is closing, closing, closing quickly – unless we Americans wake up. 

Vote, but think before you vote!  Change is not always good, nor is it always for the better.  In fact, history has demonstrated repeatedly that unplanned, impulsive, mindless, careless, rushed, or forced change almost invariably results in disaster. 

What looks so good today will be our children’s and grandchildren’s nightmare.  It’s kind of like sin…  Looks great tonight; but tomorrow morning the pain begins; will continue for a long, long time; and will hurt many loved ones.  It’s a Biblical lesson we need to remember every day. 

Beware and think.  Don’t be fooled.  Don’t be lulled into complacency by free corn.  Sometimes – usually in fact - the correct path is not quick, easy, or painless.  Our history and The Bible teach that.  Do we?

How many great Americans from our illustrious past would stand in line to accept a handout?  Whatever happened to the great American icon – the self-sufficient cowboy?  Have we buried him and replaced him with a beggar for scraps from Uncle Sam?  In fact, have we willingly transformed Uncle Sam into our personal Sugar Daddy?  It’s hard to say “No, thank you!” to free corn, but that’s the only way to stay out of the trap. 

Most importantly, have we betrayed the faith of our founders, the faith of Adams’ invisible hand (the hand of the Almighty) that guided our nation from its youth to greatness – and replaced it with faith in the mirage of our human perfection and power?  Have we abandoned our founding principles and been conformed to this world, rather than conforming the world to the image of our creator, Christ Jesus?  Have we, in the heat of worldly passion, sinned and betrayed The One who loves us more than anything, the very source of our existence?  The only one willing to die for us?

Having been born in Hungary, lived under Communist rule, and experienced the failed 1957 Hungarian revolution, my heart bleeds for our children and grandchildren.  The trend is crystal clear.  I see, understand, and pray that enough Americans will remember and cherish what made America so unique and special in all the world - before it’s too late.  I pray that enough will understand well enough to avoid all of us being caught like wild pigs in a trap. 

The end result of a trap is never pretty or pleasant for the victim.  Wild pigs caught in a trap make a most tasty meal!

Please, please don’t saddle our children and grandchildren with the cost and consequences of our sins!  We have replaced faith in the one true Creator, The One and Only.  We have made laws we create our King, the Government we choose our God.  Just like the Israelites of Biblical times, who ultimately ended up in captivity because of their sin, we too have become captives because we want free corn.  But the Government does not allow us to teach that to our children in school…

Khrushchev once boasted that one day America will become Communist without anyone firing a single bullet – and we are about to prove him right.  It may already be too late.

Lord, please don’t let it be so!  Lord, please don’t let this cancer eat up our wonderful nation the way cancer consumed my beautiful wife!  I recall how the pigs destroyed the field from the inside out, how the cancer destroyed Debbie from the inside out, and now I see a similar process of destruction in our nation.  By the time the symptoms became visible with the pigs and with Debbie, it was too late to recover.  May it not be so with America, Lord I pray, though the walls and the gate of the trap are solidly in place!

The pigs at Roseland taught us another important lesson:  We have built a beautiful garden that others will appropriate, use for their own purposes, and destroy if we're not vigilant every single day and guard it zealously.  But we must rest sometime, and the enemy always comes to destroy when we're resting, distracted, or inattentive.  It's the same with America.  Only the Lord can protect us always, without rest and ceasing.

We can pretend to be gods ourselves and end up ensnared in the trap of our making, or we can freely confess our sin, repent, and turn to The LORD our maker who alone can graciously save us from ourselves.  It’s our choice as individuals.  It’s also our choice as a family and a nation.

...and now it's time to put out free corn and trap the Roseland pigs.