In Drachten, Friesland the police stopped a wandering sheep that was causing problems on a local motorway. After a few calls, the police came and grabbed the animal and put it in the back of their vehicle.
The cops thought it a good idea to tweet a picture of the sheep, “as many people had requested them to do”. I’m sure cops don’t ‘arrest’ sheep every day.
The sheep was returned to its owner.
Tags: Drachten, Friesland, police, sheep
As of today Jumbo supermarkets in the cities of Groningen and Haren will start selling edible insects products. ‘Buggy balls’, ‘buggy burgers’ and even ‘buggy crisps’ (great, more junk food) will be available. Many parts of the world apparently eat insects either as a delicacy or because they’re poor. The Western world hasn’t joined in yet except for special events.
I can’t listen to the health arguments for selling these protein-rich products because supermarkets sell us tons of junk food and have forfeited their say in people’s health ages ago. I can’t listen to the lame argument of eating bugs as an alternative to eating meat because there are vegetarians and vegans out there doing just fine without it.
Eating bugs is expensive (one portion of ‘buggy balls’ costs between 5,95 and 6,79 euro), which doesn’t make them an alternative to anything. The price won’t go down if more people buy because if that were true, the price of veggie burgers would have gone down. And if you eat peanut coated chocolates that contain red E120 colouring, you’re already eating bugs.
Bonus argument: Belgium is one of Europe’s top suppliers of insects, but its production is illegal yet tolerated. Sound familiar?
(Links: www.z24.nl, nos.nl, Photo of Grasshoppers by ad454, some rights reserved)
Starting next year Ms Hennie de Haan will become the new chairperson of the Poultry Farmers’ Union of the Netherlands, Telegraaf reports.
In itself this is not interesting news, but if you understand Dutch you’ll realise her name means ‘Hen the Rooster’. Never was there a poultry farmers’ union’s chairperson with a more fitting name, I imagine.
Ms De Haan told AD that she hadn’t even noticed the funny pairing at first: “Well, I’ve had this name for 45 years now. You don’t often stop to contemplate your own name. My partner had to point out [how remarkable this is]. [...] Usually chicken farming is discussed in terms of the environment and the treatment of animals. If my name causes a smile [...] I consider that a bonus.”
A popular go-to person for the Dutch press whenever a plane threatens to fall out of the sky is the former chairperson of the Association of Dutch Commercial Pilots, Benno Baksteen, whose last name means ‘brick’.
Every year popular radio DJs Coen & Sander collect the funniest names they can find and crown one of them the ‘shame name’ of the year. Two weeks ago that award went to Wil Helmes, which sounds like the title of the Dutch anthem, ‘Wilhelmus’. Number 2 was Ben Bouten, which means ‘off to poo’. Third place went to Leen Kleingeld means ‘borrow small change’.
Tags: animal cruelty, chickens, farming, funny names, names, poultry, Wilhelmus
Next to Amsterdam’s Artis Royal Zoo in the East of the city where you can sometimes spot the heads of giraffes moving slowly in the distance you’ll find Micropia, billed as “the world’s first interactive microbe zoo”, opened yesterday by Queen Máxima.
And instead of looking at sizable animals like giraffes, the goal of Micropia is to display “micro-nature,” says director Haig Balian, who believes microbes have been underestimated ever since Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, known as ‘the father of microbiology’ observed these microscopic creatures in the 17th century.
“Much of the museum looks like a laboratory, complete with rows of microscopes connected to giant television screens. Visitors can look through a window at a real-life laboratory where different kinds of microbes are being reproduced in Petri dishes and test tubes.”
To get you started – or off your lunch – here’s an A to Z of lots of microbes.
(Link and photo: www.news24)
Tags: Artis, microbes, Micropia, zoo
The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority recently paid a visit to a few locations in the city centre of Amsterdam and made some interesting finds. They confiscated some ivory artworks, 19 stuffed animals and four bottles of cobra vodka, the latter of which is highly illegal and a bit scary if you ask me.
According to the author of the cobra vodka in this picture, which is surely similar to the one that was confiscated:
“It’s Laotian rice whisky in a bottle with a very dead cobra in it. I’ve seen pictures of such snake wine in Vietnam and was surprised to notice that the concept exists in Laos as well. The belief is that the spirit of the snake inside will make you as strong as a cobra and give you more manly virility. I’d probably reluctantly drink a shot if given to me in a shot glass without the snake, but looking at this bottle with the snake inside does make this super creepy.”
(Link: www.nieuws.nl, Photo of cobra vodka by shankaronline, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, cobra, vodka
Back in early 2012 we told you about lab produced meat being made, and in late 2013 about the meat finally hitting the grill. Now it’s time to level up with a test-tube cookbook called ‘The In Vitro Meat Cookbook” written by Dutch-based scientists, chefs and artists and recently presented in Amsterdam.
“While some dishes are innovative and delicious, others are uncanny and macabre,” such as roast raptor, dodo nuggets and oysters grown from meat stem cells.
The idea was not to get people cooking so much as letting people imagine future possibilities.
Tags: Amsterdam, cookbook, lab meat
In a fascinating article by anthropologist Lizzy van Leeuwen in De Groene Amsterdammer last month, she describes how farmers’ association LTO, together with the Dutch government, has set up a system for detecting and dealing with early warning signs of the mistreatment of farm animals.
A database kept by Vetrouwensloket Welzijn Landbouwhuisdieren (the confidential office for the well-being of farm animals) tracks symptoms such as excess deaths and diseases, hurt and crippled animals, parasites, poor development of young animals, and so on.
Nobody could object to such a system, but the database also registers information about the farmers themselves based on the idea that unhappy farmers make unhappy farm animals. This information includes attendance at meetings and the number of friendships a farmer maintains. Do farmers stop answering their phones and do their relationships fail? It is all registered.
If the signals reach a certain danger level, a team is sent to the farmers in question to try and help them get back on track. Magazine Veeteelt ran a headline in 2010 that aptly describes the duality of this approach: “Animal neglect can happen to anyone. [This system] prevents a negative image of the industry.”
The result is that some farmers—the loners, the ‘known’ problem cases—are pushed into extreme transparency through a finely mazed network of ‘reporters’ or ‘snitches’, depending on who you talk to. These are often the ‘erfbetreders’, a Dutch word I did not know until yesterday meaning ‘those who walk onto the farmyard’—the people who have to be on the farm for business and who rat out the farmer on the side.
Van Leeuwen’s four page article goes into incredible detail on how farmers are viewed by the general public. She hypothesizes that the Dutch have lost contact with farming world. Between 1947 and 1990 the percentage of people working in agriculture dropped from 20% to 4%. The general public are now in the habit of seeing farmers through isolated incidents, such as the 2011 tragedy in which a farmer from Brummen, Gelderland killed about 100 cows with a tractor and then killed himself. Van Leeuwen speaks of “a trend of viewing farmers as professional animal abusers”.
The result is that farmers have not just become an out-group, but in order to close the ranks they have decided to nip rare and extreme cases of animal abuse in the bud by creating their own out-group of lonely and eccentric farmers. Ironically, this does not seem to apply to factory farming, a practice to which pretty much everybody turns a blind eye.
Van Leeuwen’s article, “De weg van alle vlees—dierverwaarlozing op de boerderij“, is available on the web (in Dutch), but unfortunately behind a pay wall.
Tags: excentrics, farm animals, farmers, farming, farms, loners, LTO, privacy
A painting on display for some 140 years at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, United Kingdom by Dutch painter Hendrick van Anthonissen entitled ‘Gezicht op Scheveningen’ (‘View of Scheveningen sands’ in English) from 1641 has recently been restored, uncovering a stranded whale.
One of the men in the painting seemed to be hanging in mid-air when in fact he was sitting on the whale. Someone at some point in history thought it would be good to paint over the whale, but nobody knows why. Conservator Shan Kuang has apparently not been able to date the extra layer of paint, though she suspects it may be from the 18th century and done because an owner thought the whale was repulsive or that a dealer thought the picture would sell better without it.
Here is a video made by Cambridge University featuring Shan Kuang, the conservator who made the discovery.
(Links: www.theguardian.com, historiek.net, Photo: Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK)
Tags: Cambridge, restoration, Scheveningen, whale
Ornithologist Gerard Brinkman of Castricum, North Holland, has set up a website to help people in the Netherlands find out what kind of bird they saw but don’t know its name. The website, ‘welke vogel is dit’ (‘what bird is this’) helps people identify a bird in three steps. First, what does it look like, then what is its main colour and possible group, then from a list you get to see what could be your bird. Yes it’s in Dutch, so brush up on that as well while you’re at it.
The online bird watching with webcams from 2010 is still online.
(Link: www.rtvnh.nl, Photo of Iago Sparrow by Hans Zwitzer, some rights reserved)
Tags: birds, Castricum
I saw this Egyptian goose with its chicks yesterday near my home in Amsterdam.
As a Dutch proverb has it, in mei legt elke vogel een ei (‘every bird will lay an egg in May’), but apparently the proverb is getting further and further from the truth these days. An ever warming climate seems to have caused many birds to lay eggs earlier in the year—Vroege Vogels says the average day a songbird lays an egg has moved 14 days forward between 1986 and 2011. The site also points out that songbirds need insects to feed their young and insects have started to become active earlier in the year.
Like the parakeets I mentioned a couple of months ago, Egyptian geese are intruders from much warmer climes, but a quick web search didn’t reveal any info on wintry egg-laying habits. Do any of our readers know if these birds always hatch their young in late February or early March?
Tags: Egyptian geese, swans, winter