Chickens and roaches and cows. Oh my!

In recent television ads, scruffy Arkansas chickens masquerading as Foster Farms fowl drive to the West Coast, where consumers shun them because they’re not fresh. “You’re not from Foster Farms.”
   Ironically the multi-state company, with family farms in Washington and Oregon and a factory in Kelso, has been slapped with a USDA shutdown of its plant in Livingston, Calif., because of a cockroach infestation.
   The Oregonian reported Jan. 9 that roaches were seen at a sink across from a processing line, with “exposed product” on the slaughterhouse floor.
   The news comes roughly 10 years after larger local livestock made international headlines. On Dec. 23, 2003, a Holstein dairy cow in Mabton, Wash., was the first in the U.S. to contract mad cow disease.
   If it weren’t for “The Cow that Stole Christmas,” TV viewers might have been deprived of a longtime running joke involving Boston Legal lawyer Denny Crane (William Shatner) and his alleged mad-cow affliction.
  
Just how cold is cold? A “polar vortex” has gripped half of the country, driving temperatures below zero throughout much of the plains, Midwest, and East Coast.
   Just how cold has it ever gotten in the Northwest, anyway?
   Spokane’s record low is -30 degrees set on Jan. 16, 1888. Seattle hit zero degrees on Jan. 31, 1950. Washington’s record low was -48 degrees on Dec. 30, 1968, in both Mazama and Winthrop.
   I remember the bitter holiday cold that year, when snow covered the ground for weeks around Seattle. My family at Sylte Ranch near Rathdrum, Idaho, lost several steer when the thermometer plunged to -25.
   Portland saw -3 degrees on Feb. 2, 1950, while Eugene hit -12 degrees on Dec. 12, 1972. Bend recorded a record low of -26 in 1933. The record low for all of Oregon is -54 degrees at Seneca, north of Burns, on Feb. 10, 1933.
  
Stern almost gone: NBA Commissioner David Stern retires Feb. 1, exactly 30 years after he took the job. Adam Silver, NBA deputy commissioner, will take over.
   Northwest sports fans hope that Silver will bring the NBA back to Seattle, which lost the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City in 2008. Seattle wants its team back, and Portland would welcome resuming battle with its local rival.
   In May 2013, Stern told reporters there’s also interest in Vancouver, B.C., about regaining a team. The Grizzlies left for Memphis in 2001.

Asleep at the wheel: A Kennewick woman caused a head-on collision Jan. 8 after she fell asleep while driving on Clearwater Avenue.
   The woman missed a red light and collided with a smaller car. She had no insurance. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.
   Do you know which age group tops the list of drowsy drivers? Read our tips to find out. It’s also gender-related – drowsy male drivers outnumber females by five to one.

Moose not so rare: Washington State Fish and Wildlife biologists put GPS tracking collars on 28 moose in December to track their movement.
   The moose were collared in the state’s northeast counties, where officials estimate 1,000 moose live near lakes, marshes, and wetlands.
   Washington’s moose seem to be multiplying and expanding their range, prompting the study.
   No word on whether the 28 moose were migrating toward Frostbite Falls or Wossamotta U.
 

by  Jon Osterberg

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