Before we get into this month’s mystery, I have to warn you all: this is a gross one. I strongly advise against eating while reading. Especially when we get into examining just what exactly fell from the sky on that strange day in Kentucky. Ready? Buckled in? Let’s explore the mystery of the Kentucky Meat Shower (gag).
There is a main thread of the story that does not seem to change between tellings, so we will be focusing on that here. On March 3, 1876 in Bath County, KY. Between eleven that morning and noon, Mrs. Crouch (whose first name is nowhere to be found, ugh) was out on her front porch making soap. As she went about her business, stepping briefly on the porch, pieces of meat – ranging from two square inches to four square inches – began raining from the sky. The meat was described as gristly red meat that made a slapping noise as they hit the ground. The shower only affected a small area (about 100×50 yards) and stopped as abruptly as it started.
Before we get into the theories of how this happened, we have to address the mystery of what, exactly, the mystery meat was. Several different parties have come up with several different answers to this mystery. Some theorized that the substance was nostoc. Nostoc is a type of bacteria that absorbs moisture and resembles a seaweed-type structure as it grows. Locals judged it to be either lamb, deer, or bear after examining or tasting it (just an aside – WHY would you TASTE mystery meat that just fell from the sky?). The Crouches, and I’m sure many others within the community, believed that the falling meat was a sign from God. What the sign was supposed to mean, I’m not sure…but raw meat falling from the sky surely can’t be a sign of good things to come, right? Especially when you take into account that the flesh may have been human lung tissue. From a baby. Which definitely cannot be a good omen. Tested samples, however, ran the gamut – some were muscle tissue, some were lung tissue, and some were cartilage. So, it was definitely not nostoc, but the source of the flesh has never been definitively determined beyond that.
It is perhaps because of this variance in the type of meat that paved the way for the most probably main theory in this case: vultures. There are two kinds of vultures (black and turkey) found in Kentucky. According to this theory, a group of vultures had to have been flying over the farm as they disgorged (gag) – or basically a wake of vultures was flying over the Crouch farm when they all simultaneously vomited up their lunch (double gag).
Though it seems that most scientifically minded theorists have settled on the Vulture Vomit Theory, there is one more theory that I want to throw in, simply because it’s too wild to not mention. A humorist named William Livingston Alden suggested that the meat shower was of meteoric origin, just not in the way we normally think of them. The meteors were meateors. Alden suggested that alien livestock were jettisoned from an exploding planet and their pieces were what rained down on the Crouch farm that day. Obviously, as Alden was a humorist, this theory was put forth in jest, but who knows? Maybe it was alien cow chunks.
There have been no conclusive answers in the nearly 150 years since the Kentucky Meat Shower rained down on poor, unsuspecting Mrs. Crouch that March day. The Vulture Vomit Theory is the only one that comes close to seeming plausible to me, but at this point I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure.