200 Cows Standing in a Field (or Not)

ORLANDO–My choice to drive State Road 528 over to Orlando International instead of my usual route via Highway 1-92 through Kissimmee proved premonition pops up more often than not.

The emergency broadcast system cut off Buckethead and the crew over at WTKS 104.1, squawking dire tornado warnings to span Osceola, Orange and Brevard County. (Those unfamiliar with the area, that’s one major parcel of ranch land). A funnel cloud had been sighted at Harmony, Florida around about the time I would have found myself driving through the green community sprawling east of St. Cloud.

Fate–and the fact I wanted to breeze through IKEA prior to connecting with my guest over at OIA–found me fifty or so miles north of touchdown. Yet, as I turned off Interstate 95 to jump on the 528 (also known as the Beachline, formerly known as the Beeline) the storm cells breezed above at a fairly fast clip, keeping me anxious and on alert for cattle hugging the ground and animals of all types moving together en mass in attempt to reach safe ground in solidarity.

As the guys on the radio bandied about best practices to employ if caught in the car during a tornado (don’t hide beneath an underpass, get out of the car and jump in a ditch only as a last resort and if the storm is way in the distance, book it out of there fast) I found myself driving from a gloomy gray day into Dorothy from Kansas pitch black.

I had met up with the massive storm cell after all.

I turned the radio down to listen for the sickening sound of an airborne freight train, all the while ticking off my choices of which snake-infested ditch running parallel to the highway would prove best to throw myself.

Which made me think of how the phrase raining cats and dogs came about or actually frogs and fish due to theories pointing to tornadoes dumping whatever wildlife had been sucked up during the fast and furious move onto a town of flabbergasted citizens.

Which made me think of the recent mass animal deaths and how little press coverage these incidents have received.

As I drove unscathed out of the darkness and into the glint and glimmer of Orlando–Florida’s version of Oz–I promised myself to check into those stories, the most recent being the two hundred cows found dead in Wisconsin.

Some have suggested the bovines were embarrassed to be Packers fans. One udderly ridiculous theory is the 200 were in the chute for Romney/Ryan. Others point skyward to blame the purge of unwanted animals on the Mother Ship. But many–many–fervently feel the animal deaths–in addition to the previously reported massive deaths of birds and fish–are signs of the biblical type.

More likely, epizootic disease is the culprit, defined as “…disease which attacks many subjects in a region at the same time but is only occasionally present in the population; when it occurs it is widely diffused and rapidly spreading.”

Preliminary findings point to interstitial pneumonia as the cause of death for the cattle.

Whatever your theory, keep your pets close.


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