Rural electrification brought many benefits. But one of its stranger effects occurred on the Kentucky farm of Albert Clark in 1939. One of his hens stared and stared at the new light bulb hanging in the hen house, as if hypnotized by it. Then she laid an egg shaped like a light bulb. Clark sent the egg to the Rural Electrification Administration in D.C. as proof of what had occurred. This was big news in 1939.
Feb. 18 is Elm Farm Ollie Day, commemorating the first flight in a plane by a cow. An article posted over at rootsweb.ancestry.com tells us that Elm Farm Ollie (aka Sunnymede Ollie, Nellie Jay, or Sky Queen) is remembered each year at the dairy festival in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin:
Celebrated as a pasteurized legend of the pasture, Ollie has for 60 years remained the star attraction at the Feb. 18 dairy festival held each year at Mount Horeb, Wisc. In addition to having her praises sung in such works as "The Bovine Cantata in B-Flat Major" (from Madame Butterfat) and the stirring "Owed to Ollie," she has been the subject of stories, cartoons and poems. E. D. Thalinger even painted her portrait for posterity.
A 1930 news-wire story provided details about the historic flight:
Will Milk Cow in Air
Claude M. Sterling, of Parks Air college, will pilot Sunnymede Ollie, Guernsey from Bismarck, Missouri, over the city in a tri-motored Ford.
The cow will be fed and milked and the milk parachuted down in paper containers. A quart of milk will be presented to Colonel Lindbergh when he arrives.
Weighing more than 1000 pounds, the cow will be flown to demonstrate the ability of aircraft. Scientific data will be collected on her behavior.
-The Evening Tribune (Albert Lea, Minn.) - Feb. 18, 1930.
I never did understand why cows and beauty contests are often linked. It's probably a throwback to ancient pagan fertility rites. Below are the six young women who hoped to become the 1975 Kern County Cattle Princess. I don't know who won.
Ballydrum Celsius Betty recently won the Northern Ireland "Long Life Cow Award" -- for the fourth time. When I first saw this, I assumed it meant she was an extremely old cow, and I thought it was odd there was an annual cow longevity contest. But no, it seems that the Long Life Cow Award is more like a lifetime achievement award for cows, given to cows who consistently produce a large amount of high-quality milk.
Ballydrum Celsius Betty is only 15 yrs old, which isn't even particularly old for a cow, since cows often reach the age of 20. Apparently the oldest cow on record is Big Bertha, who lived to be 49. After her death she was stuffed and is now on display somewhere in Beaufort, County Kerry.
Although modern science has been able to send a man to the moon, it has not been able to make cows poop on command. An effort to solve this shortcoming is described in a recent issue of Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
The thing is, it would be really nice, for the purpose of general hygiene, if farmers could convince cows to stop pooping wherever they felt like it. So researchers devised a series of tests to see if prompts such as walking through a footbath, or being exposed to blasts of air or water, could stimulate bovine defecation. No such luck. The researchers concluded, "None of our tests reliably stimulated defecation, which seemed to occur most when cows were exposed to novelty."
Invented in 1937 to control cannibalism among chickens. Apparently chickens have a natural instinct to peck each other, but the sight of blood intensifies this instinct. So much so that if one chicken has blood on its feathers, all the others in the flock will peck it to death. This was a real problem for farmers until these rose-colored chicken sunglasses came along, which made it hard for the chickens to see the sight of blood. Nowadays, farmers must have other solutions to the problem of chicken cannibalism, because these glasses are no longer manufactured and are considered collector's items. (National Band and Tag via Feathered Forager)