Strangest State: Goat Yoga, Birth Control for Pigeons and Record-Setting Fridas

Notes from far-flung Texas

LUBBOCK // Texas Tech University will soon begin giving birth control to pigeons. The university spends more than $100,000 a year trying to deter the birds from nesting on the campus, administrator Sean Childers told KLBK. Starting this fall, staffers will fill bird feeders with a tasty blend of cracked corn and OvoControl, a commercial product that prevents the birds’ eggs from being fertilized. “We’re hoping to humanely decrease the population by 90 to 95 percent,” said Erin Bohlander, a graduate student studying natural resource management.

VICTORIA // In what this writer considers a persuasive argument for good copy editing, a highway sign was printed with spelling errors not once, but twice. The Victoria Advocate reports that for years, a sign on U.S. Route 59 directed drivers to the Dorothy H. O’Connor Pet Adooption [sic] Center. In June, the Texas Department of Transportation replaced the sign and fixed that typo, but the new version misspelled O’Connor’s name as “Dorthy.” “It happens,” Victoria County Commissioner Clint Ives said. “We’ve got 160 miles of county roads.”

Drue Wagner

GRAPEVINE // Goat yoga has taken northeast Tarrant County by storm. The latest trend at the intersection of farming and fitness has attendees doing downward dog alongside baby pygmy goats, who munch grass and meander from mat to mat. After Grapevine Recreation Coordinator David Mote heard a radio broadcast about a goat yoga class in Oregon, he knew what he had to do. “I Googled it, did some research and thought, ‘This is something we need to do in Grapevine,’” Mote told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The first free class, with spots for 45 human participants and 10 to 15 goats, filled up within 30 minutes.

LEVELLAND // Two friends riding in a pickup truck were startled to see a surprise visitor wriggle out from under the hood. Swade Moyers and Zakary Wyatt were on State Highway 114 when a bull snake crawled onto the windshield. In a cellphone video he later posted to YouTube, Moyers can be heard shouting, “Get your booty out of here! Oh my lord, please leave.” The men feared the snake would crawl through an air vent, Wyatt told KMAC. “We picked up anything we could have, which was an umbrella,” he said. “It was game on.”

CORPUS CHRISTI // The brave men and women of the Corpus Christi Fire Department took home top honors in the city’s second-annual Police, Fire and Media Rib-Eating Contest. Five firefighters bested the cop and reporter teams by downing all their ribs in just over 10 minutes as part of a Special Olympics fundraiser. “I think eating is something we do well,” Assistant Fire Chief Kenneth Erben told the Caller-Times.

DALLAS // The Dallas Museum of Art set the first Guinness world record for the number of people dressed as Frida Kahlo in one place. Artnet News reports that on July 6, more than 1,000 Fridas gathered as part a celebration of the Mexican artist’s 110th birthday. In addition to the requisite unibrow, participants had to wear a red or pink shawl, a below-the-knee floral dress and “a minimum of three artificial flowers.”

WACO // Officers were irked after a woman called 911 to report an overly long wait for an order of chicken nuggets. “Yes, we actually tied up two officers on this call,” Sergeant Patrick Swanton posted on the Waco Police Department’s Facebook page. Swanton refused to name the restaurant, but later told KCEN that “management worked with her [and] gave her money back.”

Visit texasobserver.org/strangest-state for more “Strangest State” and links to original stories. Got a local oddity or some small-town news to share? Tips are welcome at [email protected]

illustration by Matt Johnstone

This Strangest State appears in the August 2017 issue of the Texas Observer. Read more from the issue or become a member now to see our reporting before it’s published online.

Rose Cahalan is managing editor at the Observer and also edits the magazine’s arts and culture coverage.

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