Cows are fascinating animals. They help us in the development of vaccines (vacinus, "vaccine" in Latin, derived from vacca). Cow's lungs are used to make anticoagulants, placentas are an important ingredient in many cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, and the septum (the segment of cartilage that divides the nostrils) becomes a medicine for arthritis. Glue, fertilizer and foam from fire extinguishers are manufactured with blood.
And a good place to contemplate them is in Switzerland. In the area of Gruyères, for example, you can visit the town of Bergen, where there is a unique cow farm where the cow dung is still braided to make high piles. A work of art, for those who like Duchamp.
Cows grazing in meadows surrounded by wire can also suffer from strange diseases, such as wire disease. This disease is caused by the remains of wire, staples and nails that swallow cows when they eat. To treat them, they are given a magnet. The magnet is placed in the first part of the stomach and remains there throughout the life of the cow.
But what they never imagined in Aspen, Colorado, in the winter of 2011 of the Rocky Mountains, is how they were going to face an unprecedented vaccine problem: freezing a handful of cows that had suddenly become gigantic and heavy ice rocks.
When a group of cows were grazing there, they went astray because of a blizzard and finally took refuge in a forest ranch cabin, at 3400 meters of altitude. They were 400 cows. 6 died inside the hut, and the rest outside. Their frozen bodies were found at the end of March 2012.
The ice cow problem
The problem involved running into such a quantity of frozen cows was not trivial: how could they get rid of them? As he explains Pierre Barthelemy in his book Chronicles of improbable science:
The place is part of a protected nature reserve and is located near hot springs very appreciated by hikers. It was inevitable to let the cows thaw and then decompose: that could contaminate the soil and springs, and also attract some bears in the immediate vicinity of the walkers. Not to mention, neither to burn them, nor to dismember them with a cutting machine: the strict regulation of these reserves prohibits the use of motorized gadgets.
Finally, the method chosen to get rid of cows was great old saws, of all life. The bodies were cut into pieces and the resulting pieces scattered away from the springs, also putting up signs to signal them.
However, the possibility of blowing them up was considered. Because, apparently, there is documentation of forest rangers that admits this strange procedure when it comes to getting rid of bodies of large mammals such as horses or elk. The procedure requires 9.1 kg of dynamite cartridges:
Three cartridges at the height of the thigh, another three in the head and two for each leg (it is advisable, however, to use an explosives expert). This minimum option, which will dismember the animal and send its pieces to the surroundings, must be chosen when there is no hurry: indeed, it is necessary to allow scavengers of all fur to take care of the cleaning. The record also indicates that it is more prudent to remove animal hooves before the explosion so as not to hurt anyone. The second option is more radical: the body is wrapped with twenty-five kilograms of explosives and, generally, there is nothing left of it one day after the boom.
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