Big Bovine Birthday
I was faced with a classic dilemma: Should I start this week’s news rehash with the chicken story or the egg story?
I was leaning toward the eggs, because they go better with both hash and rehash, but that was before I discovered meatier fare. Or, possibly, milkier fare.
Apparently, there’s no federal agency specifically dedicated to keeping track of cow ages (which makes me wonder just what it is the Department of Agriculture is doing with all our tax dollars), so some of this has to be taken on faith. But Bill and Carol Hegstrom of Brooks claim their cow Nonny turned 21 on Dec. 18, which is supposed to be really old for a cow. The Hegstroms say there was another cow in Vermont that was a year older than Nonny, but was reported last year to be in ill health. If that critter has since moved on to the Great Growth-Hormone-Free Pasture In The Sky, her passing would make Nonny the title holder for her species.
If you see her, buy her a drink. She’s legal.
Which reminds me, Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub in Portland is also turning 21.
Gritty’s was already the oldest such establishment in Maine and one of the longest-lasting brew pubs in the Northeast. I can think of no better place to celebrate your cow’s birthday , assuming you’ve already ruled out the local farmers’ co-op.
State Police are investigating, but so far haven’t – heh, heh – cracked the case, which they say was carefully coordinated and may have involved inside help. Their theory is that the eggs, worth $25,000, were bootlegged to Boston and New York.
I wouldn’t want to – chortle – sit on any important information that might help them, so I’ll pass on this tip. Look for people buying large quantities of flour, butter, sugar and canned frosting.
At approximately the same time the eggs were disappearing, scantily clad protesters representing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals began appearing outside KFC restaurants in Maine, calling attention to that fast-food franchise’s alleged abusive treatment of chickens.
They wore Santa hats and bikinis. The protesters, I mean, not the chickens. KFC officials denied claims they’re killing chickens in nasty ways. Nobody asked either group about the missing eggs, which strikes me as an oversight.
Freegans are people who only eat food they scrounge up for free. They claim the store could have shipped more of the melting meals to area soup kitchens before they spoiled. Whole Foods said it did send large quantities to food programs, but couldn’t move all of it in time.
Wait. Freegans? Free food? Is anybody asking these people about those missing eggs?
Perhaps that obvious line of questioning slipped everyone’s mind because everyone was stoned. I don’t mean to imply anything illegal on the part of journalists or police investigators. As a Superior Court jury in Skowhegan decided on Dec. 18, getting high isn’t necessarily against the law.
Jurors acquitted long-time marijuana-legalization activist Donald Christen of Madison on charges he grew and furnished pot, after he convinced them he was operating under the state’s medical marijuana statute. It’s the first time that law has successfully been used to fend off legal action, and Christen said he thinks it will set a precedent.
Even though marijuana is known to enhance the appetite, nobody asked Christen if he knew anything about those missing eggs.
Another drug didn’t fare as well in legal circles. Attorney General Steven Rowe announced on Dec. 18 that he and several other AGs had convinced both Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors to stop marketing alcoholic energy drinks.
The AGs argued that the drinks were being marketed to teens by convincing them the caffeine and other products in them staved off drunkenness.
After the agreement was reached, all parties involved celebrated with Irish coffees.
Tobacco company Philip Morris had egg on its face (could that be a clue?) after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a case that began in Maine, that smokers can use state consumer protection laws to sue Big Tobacco over how it promoted “light” cigarettes.
Lawyers for the winners said the companies’ advertising gave the impression that low-tar brands were healthier, something research indicates isn’t true.
On the other hand, cows don’t smoke. They eat vegetarian diets. They spend all day in the outdoors. And most of them don’t even live to be 21. Makes me wonder.
Considering that most dairy farms are small businesses, it seems logical that the U.S. Small Business Administration would look into extending bovine life spans, particularly since the next head of the SBA will be somebody from Maine. On Dec. 19, President-elect Barack Obama announced he was appointing Karen Mills of Brunswick to the post.
Mills is one of the founders of a New York equity firm and an economic advisor to Gov. John Baldacci’s.
Speaking of the economy, eggs weren’t the only thing that went missing last week. So did thousands of jobs. The state’s unemployment rate jumped from 5.7 percent in October to 6.3 percent in November, the highest it’s been in 14 years.
In other economic news that’s grimmer than a cow’s life expectancy, the University of Maine in Farmington announced layoffs and program cuts; the Maine Principals’ Association released a series of cost-cutting recommendations for high school sports, including shorter seasons, fewer teams qualifying for postseason play and withdrawing from all New England competitions; state records show the number of licensed bill collectors has increased from 477 in 2003 to 809 this year, with some of them reporting a 25 percent increase in business; arson cases to collect insurance appear to be increasing; and the Maine Turnpike Authority approved toll hikes of 14 to 67 percent to take effect on Feb. 1.
Don’t have a cow, man.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.