Tag Archives: Crap

Beyond surreal

A confluence of two successive tweets :


Isabel, dear heart, an emergency stop is what urbanites would do. The true country type keeps going, then stops, in hope the road kill is still sufficiently intact to be cookable (I’ve even seen it done by the footplate crew of the ex-GER Claud Hamilton, bringing the grammar school kids home from Fakenham to Wells). As in Cannery Row, chapter 13:

steinbeck-canneryEddie driving, they backed up over the rise, over the top, and turned and headed forward and down past Hatton Fields. In Carmel Valley the artichoke plants stood grey-green and the willows were lush along the river. They turned left up the valley. Luck blossomed from the first. A dusty Rhode Island Red rooster who had wandered too far from his own farmyard crossed the road and Eddie hit him without running too far off the road. Sitting in the back of the truck, Hazel picked him as they went and let the feathers fly from his hand, the most widely distributed evidence on record, for there was a little breeze in the morning, blowing down from Jamesburg and some of the red chicken-feathers were deposited on Pt. Lobos and some even blew out to sea.

The cattle-freight issue is a bit more problematic. It’s the triumph of bovine excretion over aeronautical technology. Strip out the crap, and the core matter of that Independent report is:

Pilots sent out a distress signal and received permission to come down at Heathrow Airport, London.

Yet when technicians inspected the cows’ deck they found no evidence of flames or even smoke.

Cows emit large quantities of methane and maintain body temperatures slightly higher than that of a human – the combination of which may have explained the sounding of an alarm.

I cannot attest to the extent of methane in cows’ emissions (mostly orally, rather than the other direction). I gather the human produces about 7% methane in that species’ fart-gas. This might help:


A back-of-an-envelope calculation suggests that 400 cows, packed into a 747, would produce about 11 kilos of methane in a couple of hours.

This is serious stuff:

German cows cause methane blast in Rasdorf

Methane gas released by dairy cows has caused an explosion in a cow shed in Germany, police said.

The roof was damaged and one of the cows was injured in the blast in the central German town of Rasdorf.

Thanks to the belches and flatulence of the 90 dairy cows in the shed, high levels of the gas had built up.

Then “a static electric charge caused the gas to explode with flashes of flames” the force said in a statement quoted by Reuters news agency.

Emergency services attended the farm and took gas readings to test for the risk of further blasts, said local media.

Cows are believed to emit up to 500 litres of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – each per day.

Which is why it isn’t advisable to keep cows in a greenhouse.

Where this comes home to me is the memories of the 8p.m. B&I crossing out of Dublin, North Wall, for Liverpool.


In the days before obsolescent 747s were reduced to cattle-carriers (though that experience cannot be too different for bipedal “walk-on freight” in “cattle-class” on transatlantic flights) the ferry would pull into Birkenhead to unload the cows, then pull across the Mersey to deposit the humans.

Choose the wrong day and one was woken by either the roar of still sea-sick kine, or the odour of their deposits.

All that apart, the job of hosing out the fuselage of a 747 cattle-carrier doesn’t attract.


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