First reindeer, now cows: Lightning kills 19 in Texas

Mary Bowerman of USA Today reports a lightning strike killed almost 20 cows in East Texas on Sunday, according to local reports.

lightening.cowsThe cows were huddled together beneath a tree during a storm, according to witness Victor Benson, KLTV reported.

“All of a sudden, a lightning bolt came down, and the cows just fell,” Benson told KLTV.

Benson told the news station, some of the cows got up and stumbled away, but others didn’t move.

The cows were killed in a lightning strike just days after more than 300 reindeer were killed by lightning during a storm in Norway.

Like the cows, the reindeer had congregated together during the storm on a mountain plateau.

Ashley Anderson, who owned the cows with her husband, said they were able to remove the bodies quickly and donated them to people who were able to use the meat.


Where’s Thor or Loki (having fun in Brisbane) 300 reindeer killed by lightning in Norway

Friday was a bad time to be a reindeer navigating the barren Hardangervidda plateau in Central Norway.

reindeer.lightening.norway323 reindeer were killed by lightning strikes, in one fell swoop. Norway’s Environment Agency is at a loss as to how the massacre could have happened. Agency spokesman Kjartan Knutsen told the Associated Press that while it’s not uncommon for reindeer or other animals to be struck by lightning, the sheer scale of this massacre is singular.

The agency now faces the bizarre dilemma of what, if anything, to do with 300+ lightning-struck reindeer corpses. Usually, they would simply let the animals decay naturally, but the volume of dead reindeer presents a disturbing conundrum.

We’re looking to some sky-dwelling deity — possibly Odin, or Thor, or one of the other Norse gods with dominion over lighting (perhaps Loki?) — to address this tragedy.

Food fraud Rudolph edition: Alaska restaurant labels New Zealand venison as native reindeer

A popular restaurant has pleaded guilty to lying to its customers for two years.

In Fairbanks, Alaska, The Pump House Restaurant sold New Zealand venison under the guise of being Alaskan reindeer. 

rudolph-red-nosed-reindeer-7049705The restaurant’s parent company pleaded guilty to violating Alaska’s labelling and packaging laws in state court last week. 

The deception was noticed during an inspection in August last year. Food safety staff noticed a box that identified the meat was from New Zealand, not Alaska, said prosecutor Carole Holley with the Alaska Office of Special Prosecutions.

The business manager said the restaurant “deceptively served elk in lieu of reindeer ‘for about two years”.

Both the terms red deer and elk were used to describe the meat served under the name reindeer. Red deer and American elk are closely-related.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that the business would pay $50,000 in criminal fines, and will donate all profits from the dish to the Fairbanks Community Food Bank, The Salvation Army and Stone Soup Cafe – equating to $10,532. 

Can reindeer poop be considered a Gem for holiday ornaments?

Yup, that’s Sorenne, attempting to pet a deer at Amy’s dad’s place in Missouri on Saturday (he raises deer). Amy says she made sure Sorenne didn’t touch her hands to her mouth and washed them thoroughly. I was in bed, bemoaning the state of my insides, but that’s another story.

There’s a lot of poop on a deer farm.

The Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Illinois, is once again recycling their reindeer poop into ornaments and necklaces. Or, as the zoo says,

“… elves have been busy making Magical Reindeer Gem Ornaments and Necklaces for this year’s holiday season, with the hope that the tradition of this magical story will continue. Each piece is handmade and includes one “Gem.” “Gems” are actual reindeer dung droppings from Miller Park Zoo’s reindeer. Before production begins, each “Gem” is dehydrated, sanitized in an autoclave machine, painted and drilled. These Gem pieces developed with a story from retired Miller Park Zoo Superintendent, John Tobias. Here is how the story goes…

John’s grandmother use to gather her grandchildren and take them outside on Christmas Eve to scatter home­made chocolate chips. She would tell the children that the chips would attract Santa and his reindeer to their home, because the reindeer would know that other reindeer had already visited and left droppings…

In order to continue this wonderful tradition, Miller Park Zoo has designed ornaments and necklaces using actual reindeer droppings. If you adorn your tree or wear this necklace on Christmas Eve, it will help Santa and his reindeer find their way to your home. Because each ornament is handmade, they vary in size, shape and color. Gem pieces are hand made by volunteers with all proceeds benefiting Miller Park Zoo.

Sounds fine, as long as there are no failures in the production process. There is a Huh? factor involved. The one ornament reminds me of Mr. Hankey, the Christmas poo, from TV’s South Park.

It’s not raisons, don’t eat reindeer poop

Reindeer, like other deer, are ruminants, and like other ruminants, about 10 per cent will carry E. coli O157:H7 and relatives at any particular time.

So when a farmer, or huckster, promoting tourism at his reindeer farm says,

"About the worst that could happen is she could poop on you, but that’s not really a problem because they really just poop raisins," he said. Raisins are a favorite part of the reindeer diet at the farm.

"Or she could pee on you, but I wouldn’t worry, because I think I’ve heard something about reindeer pee, Christmas and good luck."

They aren’t poop raisins. Don’t eat poop.