Heard around the West

  • Cartoon of cow

    Diane Sylvain

Cows continue to get heat for everything from spreading E. coli bacteria to stomping on salmon eggs. But ranchers protest that no one ever talks about the good things cows do. Heard around the West just read about one good thing in the Salem, Ore., Capital Press. It seems cows tend to push objects with their noses, as do goats, horses and sheep, because they don't have thumbs. Voila` ! said the French, who have invented a nonelectric pump called the Aquamat, which lures cows into good riparian behavior.

The cows nose-bump a big button; this starts a pump lifting water from a river as far as 200 feet away, and after a cow slurps up enough liquid refreshment the animal wanders off, away from the river. Linda Town, an administrative assistant for the Agriculture Department in Medford, Ore., says the devices could be this country's "wave of the future," since they cost only a few hundred dollars and are easier to install than stock tanks. An American dealer is Blue Skies West, 110 Michigan Hill Road, Centralia, WA 98531 (360/736-2475).


Every week the bronzed guys and gals starring in the world-famous television series "Baywatch" save Californians from drowning and tourists from earthquakes. Now comes word that the scantily clad saviors can spring jailbirds - just by showing up on the tube.

It happened recently in rural Bernalillo, N.M., where county jail guards and some inmates watching the show were so wrapped up "hootin" and hollerin'," Reuters reports, that no one heard the sound of a hole being cut in the metal wall of the jail. But "Baywatch" babes and hunks can only do just so much in an hour time slot; they failed to halt a quick recapture of three of six escapees. The others will be nabbed and "Baywatch" will be back, too, said jail official John Van Stickler. "It was only a coincidence," he insisted. "It could have been Monday night football."


"Besides sex, bathroom functions are perhaps the most private activities in which people engage," says Pete Gross, a river guide in Grand Canyon. But not if the government insists on checking your urine for drugs, says the Moab, Utah, resident. He helped found a group challenging mandatory drug testing of professional river guides in the canyon and charges in Utah's Zephyr that the tests are an illegal search, an affront to dignity and also "unnecessary, expensive, ineffective and unconstitu-tional." To win back the right to pee in private, commercial boaters formed Guides Defending Constitutional Rights, Box 1123, Flagstaff, AZ 86002.


It all boiled down to how the slimy bison guts found their way to a table in Gardiner, Mont. Were they hurled through the air or neatly placed? Delyla Wilson, a 33-year-old member of the Bison Action Group, says she carefully lowered the rotting innards to a table where Montana's two senators and governor were seated with the U.S. secretary of Agriculture. She wanted them to experience a dose of reality while they discussed the killing of hundreds of buffalo in Montana after the animals fled Yellowstone National Park in search of food. Recent ly, a justice of the peace in Livingston, Mont., sided with the hurling version, reports Associated Press. Found guilty of misdemeanor assault, Wilson said she will appeal.


You might have to watch out for flying reptiles while ordering ice cream in the streets of Farmington, N.M. Two companies have been duking it out over turf, AP reports, with each charging the other with careless driving, slashed tires and broken windows. But that's not all. The latest salvo from Marcos Marquez, owner of Panther Snow Cone, is that someone working for his competitor threw a snake into one of his trucks. Cool Cones owner Linda McKay refused to comment.


In other culinary news, the magnificent sandstone country of southeastern Utah just beat a worldwide restaurant chain in federal court. In a confidential settlement, reports The Denver Post, Hard Rock Cafe moguls said they won't press their trademark-infringement case against a Moab, Utah, eatery that calls itself the "Slick Rock Cafe." Lawyers in Salt Lake City were eager to argue that the restaurant didn't need a worldwide chain for inspiration; owners could just look out their window.


It's not official, but since 100 company presidents grabbed a bite to eat at billionaire Bill Gates' mega-mansion near Seattle, Wash., details have been oozing out about what fills the main, 20,000 square-foot house on five acres. Built over seven years, for $60 million, there's a movie theater, ceilings of giant Douglas fir beams salvaged from a lumber mill, a banquet hall that seats 100 comfortably, and what visitors seem to like best in the monster home of the computer king - a big library. The Washington Post reports that inscribed around its dome is an ironic quote from The Great Gatsby's final page: "He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it."

Heard around the West invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumpersticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or [email protected]

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