"Albuquerque" and his new friends

I don’t know what you call it where you live, but the lifestyle we call redneckin’ is alive and well under many names.  In south central Colorado, for instance, we found it at the Colorado Gators Farm.  So, duh, the Gator Farm became the total highlight of our trip.

We came to be in the vicinty of said Gator Farm while visiting our daughter Liz, who is in college near it. In other words, the Gator Farm is so awesome that whole towns and universities have sprung up around it.  It’s like the cultural spoke in the wheel of SoCo.

It didn’t start that way.  Originally, the Gator Farm was a tilapia (come on, people: fish) farm perched (get it?) atop a natural hot spring.  While fancy fish can survive in cold and even frozen water, it turns out they like 87 degrees way better.  This little nugget of information raised my respect for fish intelligence 10-fold.

The first gators at the farm were nothing more than “green” garbage disposals.  They ate the dead fishies.  Dead fishies stink, and aren’t good for much else than feeding gators. The founders of the gator Dispose-All concept were so forward thinking in their green-ness, in fact, that they didn’t even buy the gators.  They recycled the cast-off gators that no one else wanted. So if you ever wondered where those cute little caiman gators at the local pet shop ended up, they are freezing their asses off eating dead tilapia in SoCo.

When we visited, it was a balmy 9 degrees outside, and the gators were “resting.” Even water bubbling up at 87 degrees from down below gets a bit nip when it’s that cold outside.  This makes the gators very, very sleepy.  Did you know a gator can survive while frozen? It can. Not for all that long, but the record at the Gator Farm is 40 days for a gator to emerge, thaw, and resume somewhat normal brain function, which wasn’t all that much to begin with.

I don’t want to suggest that working at the Gator Farm is high risk, but we did see three different memorial posters to Gator Farm employees who had died prematurely, cause of death unknown.  Two brave gator-wranglers remained when we were there.  I think the stress of their jobs may have gotten to them, a little.  About all they wanted to talk about was duck-rape. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to explore the social crisis that is the rape of defenseless female ducks, I highly recommend a tour of the Gator Farm.  [OK, y’all, as a victim of sexual assult myself years ago, I *know* rape is a serious topic, and that’s EXACTLY why it is odd and thus ultimately funny that he brought it up and talked about it at length, with my two teenage daughters present. Don’t be a hater.]

There was way more to see than just gators (and hydroponic farming/tilapia tanks) at the Gator Farm.  For instance, we saw a biodome. It reminded me of Mad Max and the Thunderdome, except smellier.  A whole lot smellier.  We also enjoyed the rescued tortoises, snakes, geckos, frogs, possum, parrots, emu, goats, horses, donkeys, sheep, ostrich, and cats.  Cats as in plural.  Cats as in prolific breeders. Apparently the gators’ diet does not include much cat.  Also, it is possible that the ducks aren’t the only things getting raped at the Gator Farm. Come to think of it, there were a lot of goats, too. And I’m pretty sure one of the donkeys was knocked up.

No redneck story on my blog is complete without potty humor.  And in that spirit, I want to tell you about Monster, the generously-proportioned tortoise-slash-toilet paper roll holder.  Monster, who was rescued at three times his expected body weight after years of receiving meat fed to him by the loving hand of his former owner, likes to hang out in the bathroom by the potty.  So much so that the handlers occasionally stick a roll of toilet paper on his back.  Most unsuspecting guests don’t realize the paper holder is alive until they reach for the roll.  This results in some hilarious exits from the potty room. Hilarious to the gator-wranglers, not to the guests themselves, necessarily.

I don’t want any of this to scare you out of a visit to the Colorado Gator Farm, because it is totally worth the price of admission, if for nothing else than a chance to see Morris, the resident movie star, whose credits include Happy Gilmore, Doctor Doolittle 2, and many others.  We didn’t actually see Morris, as he has a special private gator enclosure appropriate for a star of his caliber, but we did have the chance to. He’s (supposedly) right next to the pile of frozen gators who didn’t make it past 40 days, and just down the path from the “bone yard” of gators past, who shall rest in peace for now, or at least until someone requests a gator skeleton.  And then, if the price is right, the wranglers will exhume the body, clean it off, and ship it UPS wherever you would like.

We loved the Gator Farm and made it out intact with certificates of bravery in hand for holding “Albuquerque,” who even signed our certificates with a full imprint of his teeth.  If we do go back, the wranglers encouraged us to come during the summer when they personally teach gator wrestling lessons.  We can’t wait. I know we’ll at least send Susanne, because we’ve had one too many tours through teenage girlhood at our house, and we were going to put her up for sale on E-bay anyway.

Cheers, y’all —


p.s. We saw “We bought a zoo” the night before our visit to the Gator Farm.  There were “for sale” signs everywhere at the Gator Farm, and we think it would be a great idea.  For some other family.

p.p.s. We loved this place so much that we bought a lifetime pass for Liz.  You’ve got to put it on your list if you’re ever in SoCo.

p.p.p.s. If you are one of the aforementioned gator-wranglers, I tell the creative “inspired by real life” version of events, 99% true. 🙂 And I drive traffic to your website and visitors to your Farm. Thank you for making our day — can’t wait to come back!

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