A wild horse led police on an hourslong chase through North Lubbock on July 11.
Drue Wagner

Strangest State: Mysterious Seeds and a Longhorn on the Moon

Weird news from far-flung Texas.


A version of this story ran in the September / October 2020 issue.

Above: Margarita Solis was driving with her family, running errands on what she thought would be a “boring, hot day,” she told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Then they saw the horse being chased along the freeway.

LUBBOCK // A wild horse led police on an hourslong chase through North Lubbock on July 11. The mare was adopted as part of a longstanding federal initiative to give wild horses and burros a new home, but the animal apparently wasn’t ready to settle down on the range. It hurdled over concrete barriers and galloped down highways, drawing a crowd of cheering onlookers. One woman who observed the chase told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that her children begged her to let them feed it a carrot. Eventually, the wild romp came to an end when the horse was corralled into a trailer.

WILLIS // A woman in Montgomery County was mailed unsolicited packages of plant seeds from a sender in China in late July, according to KTRK. Alice Fornet said that at first, she wasn’t surprised to receive the three packages containing “little bitty” seeds—she frequently orders seeds by mail, after all. She had planned to plant them before seeing warnings issued by the Texas Department of Agriculture that they could contain invasive plant species. At least 300 people across the nation have received similar, mysterious packages, Reuters reports.

FLORESVILLE // A woman in Floresville was implicated in the theft of a farm animal in July, KSAT reports. Alena Berlanga, a board member of the Floresville Independent School District, was charged with several misdemeanor crimes for allegedly stealing a donkey from a pasture. Berlanga, who is also president of a local animal shelter, was attempting to rescue the animal because it was having problems giving birth, her attorney told the TV station.

HOUSTON // COVID-19 relief funds were distributed to U.S. businesses this summer to help stay afloat during turbulent financial times. But Houston entrepreneur Lee Price III had other plans for his $1.6 million in government loans, spending it on real estate, a Lamborghini, and strip clubs. Now Price is facing federal charges, including making false statements and wire fraud, for improperly using the funds, the Houston Chronicle reports.

ABILENE // KTXS fielded several regional reports about a strange sight in the night sky on July 18. “Holy shit!” one man exclaimed upon seeing the streaking fireball overhead in a short video posted to the TV station’s website. Some suspected it was a meteor entering Earth’s atmosphere, but the American Meteor Society dispelled those rumors, stating it was actually the reentry of a Russian rocket launched into space in November—in other words, space junk.

NEWTON COUNTY // Jet Ski riders at Toledo Bend Reservoir intentionally ran over geese at the lake in July, according to KFDM. The information came from Newton County Sheriff Bill Rowles, who said “people are upset” by the incident, as part of his weekly news roundup aired by the TV station. But the sheriff wasn’t done airing grievances. Rowles noted that the jail had incarcerated three women over the weekend on separate charges. He added that “females don’t make good prisoners. They have been a pain.”

AUSTIN // A group of undergrads at the University of Texas are over the moon about their capstone project, KXAN reports. The team of 10 engineering students designed a rover, named LEGACI, capable of scrawling messages into the moon’s surface, then taking a picture of its work and transmitting the message back to Earth. The students put it to the test by programming it to write its own name on the moon’s surface, along with, of course, the UT Longhorns symbol.

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

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