Cow Pie In The Sky?
How much do you know about cows? How much do most of us know about cows? Having lived in rural areas for about the past 30 years, you would think I would know more about cows than I really do. But I really don’t.
Almost everything I know about cows I learned last week in The Java Mountain News– a local area newsletter with, well, local news… It’s kind of like a newspaper except much smaller, and it has a lot more advertising.
Anyway, I happened to spy the JMN while shopping, with Judy, for groceries one day last week. It was right there at the checkout stand… And it was free… I couldn’t resist something free at a grocery store, so I took it and threw it onto the belt along with the milk, bread and bathroom tissue (toilet paper, in the real world). I had no intention of actually reading it, mind you, but, as I said, it was free…
But Judy read it. And that’s why I know more about cows than I knew two weeks ago…
Here’s most of what I knew about cows before last week:
- Cows eat grass.
- Cows make milk.
- Unlike some of us who only look like we have four stomachs, cows actually do have four stomachs. (actually one stomach with four chambers)
- Cows say “Moo”.
Here’s most of what I learned about cows last week:
- A healthy cow can produce about 200,000 glasses of milk in her lifetime.
- The oldest cow ever recorded was named Big Bertha, and she lived to be forty-eight years old.
- She also holds the world record for number of calves produced – thirty-nine.
- A cow has no upper teeth.
- A cow consumes up to 100 pounds of feed per day.
- A cow drinks about a bathtub’s worth of water each day.
o I have intentionally left out some facts because I will refer to them later on in this discussion.
I see cows all the time – you can’t help it when you live where I live. They’re all over the place – you can see them dotting the landscape, usually behind fences, along the roads around here. Sometimes you don’t even need to see them to know they are around.
But I have only seen cows up close a few times in my entire life – mostly while running through the bovine exhibit at the (Del Mar) San Diego County Fair, looking for the shortest possible route to the Deep Fried Ice Cream Cone booth.
And I have never, as far as I know, touched a fully assembled cow.
The closest thing to physical contact with cows that I can claim is with the one(s) I wear on my feet and, for reasons of modesty, around my waist. Of course there is the face-to-face contact with them between the opposing sides of a bun or in a glass. (Milk is my favorite drink – I like it much better than Shrimp Juice (which I hate).
o Many of you know of my aversion to fish, brought about by a bad experience I had while in the Navy. As result of this experience, I can’t eat seafood. I mean, I can eat seafood, it just won’t stay eaten for long. Therefore, I take my fish in gel-cap form and hope that I can get the capsule down before the skin wears through.
By now, I’m sure you are asking yourself, “What’s got into him? Why is he going on about cows?”
Well, Cows are going to make us – you and me – wealthy. Filthy-ugly-stinking-rich.
How are they going to do that?
Well, I’m going to tell you. Starting right now…
Last Thursday morning, while Judy, Steven, Billy and I were motoring our way to the home of our middle son (Shawn) and his wife (Megan) for Thanksgiving dinner, Judy brought up the topic of “cows”.
“Do you know that cows do more to cause holes in the ozone layer than just about anything else?” she asked.
“I know that they expel a lot of methane gas,” I replied. “What made you think to bring it up?”
“Well, I read it in the Java Mountain News that you added to the grocery bag the other day. And that’s not all,” she continued. “The gas emitted by a single cow could heat a house for a year.”
(Upon my own investigation, I found that she was nine cows shy on this number, but that makes no difference to the point of this discussion.)
“Holy Co… Mackerel! A year? Really?”
“And do you know how cows release all those hydrocarbons?”
“Yes, I believe I do,” was my response.
“No, I don’t believe you do,” was her response to my response.
And before I could argue the point, she told me how they do it…
“Most of the gasses released by cows come in the form of burps.”
This truly was news to me. I didn’t even know cows burped. However, I actually did some cursory searching on Google and found several articles about actual government funding of cow burp research. You can find anything on Google…
She went on to list a few more facts about cows (see a few paragraphs north of here), but I was stuck on the idea of heating my house and –
And then it hit me…
If one cow can heat a house for a year, how many cows does it take to run a car for a year? Or, more to the point, how many cow belches would it take?
And how can I harvest the required gasses?
Then THAT hit me…
All I would have to do is find some way to capture the gas as it leaves the cow (from whichever end of the equation), force it directly to the newly designed “cow gas” tank and then to the newly designed “cow gas” engine.
Some sort of “hose” system seemed, at first thought, to be in order. The problem with that, though, is getting the cow to agree to the required placement of the hoses (one for each end)…
o The average life span of a cow is seven years. The average anticipated life span of a person attempting to install hoses into an unwilling cow is about seven seconds…
Direct installation seemed to be a bad idea…
Then I thought about some sort of “mask” fitted to the cow’s face, and something larger at the other end… Sort of a “reverse gas mask”, as it were… The hoses could then be “indirectly” attached to the cow…
This idea seems to be somewhat better if for no other reason than it is a far less intrusive solution, and is likely to be more agreeable to the cow.
This could be modified for home heating use in the winter.
But there is a downside to this method. If the cow has a mask over it’s face, how will she be able to eat the grass that becomes the gas that runs the car that Bill built?
There are other obstacles to be overcome, too. For instance:
- The list of facts in the newsletter correctly stated that it would require 10 cows to heat a home for a year. This breaks down to two and one half cows per season.
o It may be difficult to convince a cow that only half of her is needed at a given time.
In the case of home heating, where would you install the cows? It would not do to have two and a half cows roaming around the living room, dragging their hoses along with them. The damage would be horrendous.
o Damage to the house could be mitigated by slowly repeating the word “c-o-w h-i-d-e” ** over and over when they look like they might be planning some sort of destruction.
o ** It is important to note that any reference to the term “Cow Hide”, in the context of this discussion, does not refer to the popular bovine parlor game of concealing one’s self from view by, say, placing one’s self under a lamp shade or behind a flag pole, but, rather, to the stuff your sofa and car seats are made of.
In rural areas, I believe this is actually quite easily overcome by devising a way to connect the cow to a modified propane tank located outside the house and utilizing the propane lines already run from the tank to the house. The real challenge is the connection between the cow and a city home or apartment building.
Connection to a vehicle might prove to be somewhat less difficult. I envision some sort of trailer equipped with the proper connections to the fuel tank.
Another option, here, would be the slight expansion of the size of the trunk or installation of an additional back seat in order to accommodate the cow/fuel supply.
- This is my personal choice because the cow, in this case, could serve multiple purposes:
o The main purpose of providing fuel to the vehicle
o The secondary purpose of providing a running, and audible, report of the amount of fuel available to run the vehicle – burps…
With Option one:
Imagine driving down the road towing a fuel trailer behind your car, not knowing if it has been thirty minutes or two hours since your cow last belched…
“How much gas ya think we got, Elmer?”
“Don’t know, Farley – ain’t heard Bessie since we loaded ‘er up when we left the apartment.”
“Too bad the intercom to the trailer got busted when we was packin’ ‘er in.”
And then it happens… the car starts to slow down… You mash the pedal to the floor, but you know it’s no use – you have run out of fumes, and now you’re stuck in the middle of New York City with no feed store within 73 city blocks – and Bessie is mad…
Now consider the second option – the smart option…
You’re driving down the road with your fuel supply right there behind you in the back seat. Every few minutes you hear the cow sound that’s music to your ears, and you know, beyond the shadow of any doubt whatsoever, that you will reach your destination…
“What are you feedin’ that cow, Clem? She’s bein’ right productive today.”
“Yup. I’m usin’ that new high octane hay stuff, Floyd. You ought to try it in your cow – it’s great!”
“Maybe Elmer shoulda spent a little more money on his cow feed… He and Farley and them other innocent bystanders might still be alive today if he had…”
“Darn shame ’bout them getting stranded in the middle of Manhattan the way they did – no gas… No feed store around for miles…”
“And that crazy cow of his going berserk like that and springing a leak in the hind quarter hose connection… All that residual escapin’ that way… Terrible way to go, Clem – terrible way to go…”
“Yup. Don’t get much worse than death by breathin’ dairy air, Floyd. But it wasn’t the feed, Floyd… It was that fuel trailer – He couldn’t tell how much gas he had because he couldn’t hear his cow…”
“Yup… Darn shame…”
“Well, we got us a good setup, Floyd. We can tell exactly how much gas we got just by listnin’ to Daisy Mae.”
“Great day in the mornin’, Clem! Didja hear that? That one’ll get us another forty miles…”
Can you imagine the money we can make with this??? The government bail out money alone could be billions!!! Then there’s the Nobel Prize (which I claim for myself because this was my idea).
To this end, I have decided to take it upon myself to form an organization dedicated to the promotion, research, development, production and marketing of bovine produced fuels and fuel systems. And, I have decided to let you, my loyal readers, all in on the ground floor if you want!
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my honor to introduce to you an organization that really needs an introduction:
The Society For the
Collection Of Wastegasesproducedbybelchingbovine S
If you want in, just scrape your left hoof backwards in the dirt three times while holding out your right hand to your local congressional representative and say “Moo…”
- colleen Says:
December 6, 2008 at 9:13 am editBrilliant!I’m tempted to send it to the Arizona Republic for you…you need to publish rimmediately so someone doesn’t steal your idea (intellectual property) and publish it under their own name…
- Judy Kammerer Says:
December 6, 2008 at 11:39 am editHi Colleen … don’t encourage him. He hasn’t gone off the deep end yet, but this shows that he’s getting closer.
- Tricia Says:
December 6, 2008 at 4:51 pm editHaven’t laughed so hard and so much since last night’s twenty-one casino game wherein Sandi next to us kept playing our chips and spotting some of her own, for her amusing generosity the Lord made sure she won the night’s second best raffle-the DVD player, best company party Richard’s companies have ever had-really really fun and entertaining…gotta go, cuz Richard wants to read your article now and we have forty minutes to get ready to leave for Richard’s second company party tonight, what to wear??? Thinking of you and wondering if you can write this stuff for bovines, what can you do for ovines, hint hint hint – hey our sheep are in three zoos and we want equal press, Nobel novel man!!! Glad Judy reads those papers… I got the Julian Light at Wachovia last night and the our discussion with the manager as a result meant he found out Richard is an artist and on seeing Richard’s business card picture of the River of Life his first gasp was it looked like great literature-a stunningly strong statement…I do love a runon sentence. Miss ya. Keep up the good Advent stuff, really economics 101 timely stuff too, any more thoughts on fillin up the manger with sheep and burros, let me know! Miss you two. Chow
- Megan Says:
December 6, 2008 at 10:52 pm editJudy, I absolutely love your comment!!!
- Bob Buechner Says:
December 7, 2008 at 8:43 pm editWould you be calling it a ‘Cattle Car?’