More Weird Farm News
Strange stories of agricultural interest gleaned from Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird column.
On a weekly basis, Chuck Shepherd proves the old cliche that truth is stranger than fiction. The syndicated columnist and some-time basketball referee compiles strange stories (all published in the mainstream media) sent to him from a network of friends and correspondents from across the country and around the world.
The following items (reprinted here with Chuck's permission) show that weirdness isn't relegated just to the city. If you enjoy this kind of stuff, seek professional help or visit Chuck's News of the Weird. website. "That site contains no graphics, no photos, no video clips, no audio. Just text. Deal with it," he says.
All items © Chuck Shepherd. You can tell your friends these stories. But do not reproduce them in any way, shape or form without Chuck's permission.
It Can Wait
In August, just after a Hudson Foods processing plant in Nebraska was closed down based on a highly publicized federal investigation that found e-coli bacteria contamination in ground beef, the company suffered another crisis. Hudson's Noel, Mo., poultry-processing plant became the first U. S. firm to be fined ($300,000) by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for causing workers anxiety by providing insufficient restroom breaks. [9Jan98 column]
Recent European Unity Feuds
Farmers in Sweden are still upset, according to a report by the country's Bureau of Statistics in June, at their inability to sell straight cucumbers in Europe; EU regulations require prime cukes to bend 1 cm for every 20 cm's in length. And Belgium and France were victorious in October in a European Parliament vote to require that chocolate be made only with cocoa butter and not with substitute vegetable fats; a British Parliament member complained that British chocolate has always been made with little or no cocoa butter. [12Dec.97 column]
The Smell of Money -- Part 2
The University of Minnesota was seeking more "specialists" to work on its three-year, $390,000 program to set an "odor emissions rating system" for regulating the state's 35,000 animal feedlots, according to an August Minneapolis Star Tribune story. Having judges, or government officials, go sniff the feedlot apparently would give insufficient due process of law; rather, a panel of sniffers will develop objective standards on the types of odors and their strength. Already 35 people are employed and have begun sniffing the nearly-200 chemical components of cow and pig manure in order to categorize them for the formal state stench test. [15Oct.97 column]
News of the Weird reported in 1994 on the controversy over who owned the world's largest cow hairball, but it now appears that an also-ran at that time, Mike Canchola of Sterling, Colo., is now number one. In 1994 a Garden City, Kan., historical society had a 37-incher, but Canchola has since come across one measuring 43.3 inches around. In the course of his work at a local beef plant, Canchola plucks out the non-championship hairballs, dries them, has colleague Frank Alcala paint faces or scenery on them, and sells them for $50 each. [15Oct.97 column]
In July, a Teamsters local in Oakland, Calif., protested Mills College's use of goats to clear brush on its land. Since the union has a contract with Mills, a Teamsters official said the college should either replace the goats with its members, or unionize the goats.
One Hot Crop!
On October 17 firefighters took two hours to extinguish a fire at the Cal-Compack Foods plant in Las Cruces, N. Mex., that started when a silo full of red chile powder grew so hot that it began to smolder. [24Jan97 column]
Judge Halts Cow-Patty Bingo
In July, the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission formally banned the popular charity fundraiser, "cow-patty bingo," in which a promoter marks a field into squares, takes bets, and then releases a recently-fed cow to "select" a winning square. The Commission believed the game could be rigged by training a cow to use a particular spot in the field. The next day, incoming Nova Scotia Premier Russell MacLellan said the ban could be ignored. That same week, the district attorney's office in Santa Clara County announced that a similar fundraiser for the imminent Gilroy, Calif., garlic festival, based on the famous Clydesdale horses' two-mile march through town, could not be held because it violated the state gambling law. [18Oct.97 column]
Cow Detectives Point the Way
Fleeing on foot just ahead of cops in hot pursuit near Collinsville, Ill., in June, murder suspect Ronald Hardwick, 24, ran into a field and attempted to hide. However, alert Texas County sheriff's deputies noticed that a few cows, rather than idly grazing, had seemed to congregate in a certain area and were staring at a particular place where the field turns into woods. Deputies headed that way and soon ran across Hardwick. [25Oct.97 column]
'Fries With That?'
The hog-farming Fox family of Mahaska County, Iowa, which for 10 years has been selling vials of boar semen for artificially inseminating sows, recently expanded its operation to include a drive-through window for farmers in a hurry. Said Genette Fox of the playfulness of customers, "'[O]rder of semen and fries' -- I've heard that a million times." [3May96 column]
Good Use For Bad Chicken?
A restaurant owner in Edinburgh, Scotland, was unsuccessful in his appeal of Karen McInulty's judgement against him. McInulty, 29, had won about $7,700 in damages after eating salmonella-infected chicken curry at the restaurant; the restaurateur had argued that McInulty was overweight at the time and thus that the 21 pounds she lost after being hospitalized actually helped her. [26April96 column]
Lowell Altvater, 80, was charged with negligent assault in Sandusky, Ohio, in November after he thought he saw a rat in his barn and fired his shotgun at it. It turned out to be his wife's hat, which she was wearing. Mrs. Altvater begged police not to file charges, but they did, in part because Lowell had shot himself in the leg in 1992 in the same barn after thinking then, too, that he had spotted a rat. [4April96 column]
The Washington Post reported in March that last year the Department of Agriculture required Iowa's Oink-Oink Inc. to begin dying green its best-selling dog treats, Pork Tenderloin (which is made from the penises of hogs). Oink-Oink thought the green dye would make the product unappealing and took a $100,000 loss killing the product and enraging dog owners who loved the treat. The department's only reason for requiring the dye was so the treats would be more obviously identified as not for human consumption. [5April96 column]
Explaining his "no" vote on a bill to ban discrimination against gays in the California legislature in June, Assemblyman-rancher Peter Frusetta told his colleagues, "I've seen thousands and thousands of [heifers and probably] three, and maybe at the top, four, that had the hormonal imbalance . . . that makes them shy away from bulls and take up with other heifers. But they are rare. And it's a very unnatural thing." Frusetta's side won. And in June, a Helena, Montana, sheep researcher said her work over the last 10 years reveals that about 10 percent of rams are homosexual and that such sexual orientation appears linked to brain structures that regulate hormones. [23Jul97 column]
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