Bigfoot. Sasquatch. The Abominable Snowman.  The Swamp Monster. The Loch Ness Monster. Down through the ages there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of  reported sightings in various parts of the world concerning these creatures. Until last week, I never gave any of these any credence whatsoever.
I was down at the creek farm on a relatively mild winter day, burning one of the many brush piles left over from the great ice storm of 2007. As I have been doing for several weeks now, I had carefully packed one end of the debris pile with feed sacks and net-wrap that had accumulated in the barn for the past year and lit one of the sacks afire on the windward side of the heap. As the fire slowly engulfed the entire pile, I backed off and sat on the ATV to watch for and extinguish any of the little fires that would soon start burning out into the pasture.
Contentedly, I sat there watching yet another eyesore (one of many still left) evaporate in a cloud of smoke, ash and intense heat. A rare, warm, winter sun beamed down on me as I became hypnotized by the dancing flames and the crackle of burning limbs. All of a sudden, a foreign noise and unusual movement captured my attention.  Bursting out of the fire… and directly toward me… came an eerie and ominous figure unlike anything I had ever seen.  The object was surrounded by a thick cloud of smoke and appeared to be about six feet in height moving as fast as a man could run.
I don’t mind admitting that I was half scared out of my wits when I reached for my rifle, forgetting that I had taken the gun off the ATV with the end of deer season a couple of weeks ago. Not knowing what else to do, I jumped over the vehicle to the side, away from the approaching monster. I guess I thought that a John Deere Gator would provide at least some protection from this man-eating beast.
As I hunkered down and waited for imminent death, my life flashed before my eyes.  
Gosh, I wish I’d been a better son, father and husband. I hoped my death would be quick instead of the slow and painful kind that would accompany being eaten alive by this wicked freak. I peeked around the corner of the Gator.
Still in a dead run, the creature darted past the machine and me and headed straight down the creek bank and into the icy-cold water of Billies Creek. I could hear the water sizzling and cautiously, I crept to the edge of the bank. Only after the steam and smoke cleared did I discover that the monster that had scared ten years off my life was only an armadillo… minus most of its armor plating.
Evidently, the nearly two-year-old pile of brush had become home to the Texas immigrant and it stayed in its home for a few more minutes than it should have. The smoke created from its singed armor had created a cloud that rose above it and followed it as it ran, making it appear to a frightened spectator (me) as a huge, man-like, monster.
Now I know how all those stories get started, for had I not seen the armadillo get out of the creek, I would have sworn, forever, that I had seen the “Billies Creek Boogey-Man,” and lived to tell about it.
Jerry Crownover is a farmer and a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University. He is a native of Baxter County, Arkansas, and an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry about his books, or to arrange speaking engagements, you may contact him by calling 1-866-532-1960 or visiting and clicking on 'Contact Us.'


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