The Baboon King

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There was a time when the First People came up into the world after living under the ground. They had lived there for a long time and had grown to be many. Soon there were too many people because at that time all of the different beings that we now call animals were people too. Because of the closeness and the crowding the people began to fight amongst themselves, each wanting to be in the best place, living in the largest caverns so their kind could prosper and grow and be superior to all the other people.

As is always the case some of the people were much cleverer than the others and could figure out tricks and plans that would take advantage of the other people. Fooling them until soon the clever ones were very important because their cleverness now allowed them to own the best caverns underground, and because they were powerful they would not let the others come in. The misplaced ones who were not clever were made to find cold, dark places where they soon lost what cleverness they had and began to change from being one of the people into lesser beings. Some falling so far from grace as to become prey for the more clever ones. It was a time of great calamity for all who lived underground.

One of the cleverest of all the people were the baboons. They were nimble and being very glib could talk the others into making choices they never would have made otherwise. They had the First King Under the Ground and he ruled with an evil fist. The baboons being so clever soon ruled many of the best caverns and even had those who were soon to be human beings once they were on the land, tricked into giving up some of their freedoms to the baboons. Some of the humans, but not all.

Cleverness is much like Life itself. It has a way of finding its way to the forefront of those that possess it and it did so with the humans. They also had a King but he was a benevolent King preferring to use his mind to change things instead of using power, and he came up with a plan to free themselves from the Baboon people and make their way to the surface where there was so much room, so much land, they could not ever be forced to serve anyone but themselves ever again.

He carefully gathered all the other people together and told them his plan. The baboons were so vain that they rarely came out of their cavern and ignored anything the lesser people had to say. Because of this they were unaware of the plan the human King set in motion, preferring to eat and drink and laugh at the fact that they were so powerful and smart. The Baboon King laughed the loudest and ridiculed those he thought of as his subjects.

Because all the caverns were set far apart and connected by wide hallways it was easy to get from one to another. The human King thought that if they could narrow the canyons enough they could trap the Baboon King in his fine cavern. He had grown so large and soft because he was served by his followers that he could barely move. They would have to make the hallways very narrow so that not only could they trap the Baboon King but many of his most loyal supporters also. The human King knew that if they didn’t keep most of them caught in the cavern they would soon face the same problem again.

Gathering every single member of all the people underground except the baboons, he spoke to them at great length about what it would be like when they went up into the world above the canyons. How there was light present everyday for as long as they needed to do what they were meant to do, and darkness that came after the day was done to cool them down after their days work was done, and this happened every single day of their lives. And how they would be free to choose what kind of person they would be and no one would ever change them.

He then had them put their hands and paws and hooves and fins and scales against the sides of the hallways, and using every ounce of willpower they had, using their belief that they would have a better life when they left the caverns, they began to pull the edges of the hallways together. As the rock began to move the people felt stronger and stronger and they pulled even harder and soon the hallways were so narrow that the Baboons were trapped in their cavern. Only a few who had not totally fallen under the spell of the evil Baboon king made it out. Which is why we still have baboons today, and although they are still clever they were never able to assume the power they once had.

The Baboon King was so filled with rage after being trapped, that his anger took over and he raged and struggled and cursed everyone else in the world. He was so angry that his blood raced through his body, gradually leaching his anger out of him until all of his anger was gone. It was replaced with the purple sand that surrounded him until he was finally and completely turned to stone. And so he has remained the Baboon King Under the Ground until this day.

On some days, not all days mind you, but some, if you stand in just the right place in the lower parts of the cavern in what is called Antelope canyon, you can see The Baboon King’s profile. It is fleeting because when all the people left, to live above in the world, a fissure opened up over the Baboon Kings chamber so that the people could come back and look down at the Baboon King and remember him so they wouldn’t ever let another evil king treat them as unworthy people again. The light falling into the cavern from the fissure above will let you see the stone kings face. But light being what it is doesn’t stay in one place very long so you have to be there at just the right time. Sometimes if you’re really lucky you can get a picture of him.

Pancho And Lefty – Standoff At Cascade Creek

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As the tale goes the Cascade Creek pack had killed a cow elk a couple of days ago. The carcass lay upon a gentle rise out in the meadow about 150 yards away from the highway. It had been worked over pretty good by the pack, plus a grizzly that came in and stripped a lot of the big bones that were still heavy with meat during the night. A four hundred pound elk doesn’t go very far when the big boys start feeding.

Soon the carcass had flattened out so that it was barely visible above the snow it lay upon. It looked as If there wouldn’t’ be anything left for the pack when they came back to feed later in the day. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t still sustenance to be had. There was marrow in the smaller bones that hadn’t been carried off yet. The hide could be licked and chewed on for the blood. There were still parts left to eat.

Pancho and Lefty were the first to arrive. As young bucks in the pack they were always hungry and wanted to get in there and get what they could before the Alpha and his mate showed up. There wouldn’t be much chance to eat once he arrived, he’d decide who ate and when, or even if, and his mate wasn’t any easier to get along with.

As luck would have it the Raven Clan had moved in and assumed control of the kill. They were pretty amped up as they had just driven a Golden Eagle off the carcass and they weren’t about to give up their prize without a battle.

At first glance you would believe that it would be a pretty unequal fight, what with the wolves being 100 lbs plus and the ravens weighing about three, three and a half tops, but size can fool you. Sure the wolves had pulled down a four hundred pound cow with very little trouble and they could easily snap a raven in two with those powerful jaws, but first they had to catch them. And the ravens had one point in their favor. Wolves cannot fly.

The ravens also had those long pointed beaks. They could peck at a massive bone until they cracked it to get at the marrow inside. It would not be too troublesome to take out a wolf’s eye if it came to that. So there you have it. The wolves surveyed the situation deciding on how much energy they wanted to spend evicting the squatters and the ravens knew that if they were tenacious enough they could pester the wolves into leaving. It was the standoff at the Cascade Creek kill.

Finally the wolves decided that there was enough left on the carcass that it would be worth the battle. They charged into the flock repeatedly, the ravens would lift up just out of muzzle range and settle back just as quickly once the wolf went after another bird. It looked like they could do this all day, but the wolves being wolves were still hungry and they didn’t let up. Finally the Ravens called a truce and moved back out of lunging range, content with nipping in and stealing little morsels that were dropped by the wolves. The wolves tolerated this until the Raven would get too confidant, then they would make short lunges to run it off.

The one-sided battle went on for several hours until the wolves had eaten their fill and wandered off to find a resting place to settle in and sleep off their meal. The Ravens knowing this would happen moved back in on the carcass and went to work. This was just a battle, the war would go on for as long as there were wolves and ravens. Right now it was mostly a draw.

Pancho and Lefty were lucky. They had the kill to themselves for much longer than usual and they did not waste the opportunity. They ate as much and as quickly as they could. The Alpha and the rest of the pack had slept in and didn’t get there until much later in the day. By then most of the drama was over. The carcass was just about picked clean and it was another day in Yellowstone.

Pardon Our Turkey

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That was the cry I heard as I sat up in The Directors chair in my office on the seventh turret in the fourth tower, the only tower that allows me to see both the sunrise and the sunset, sometimes simultaneously if the light is right, surveying the vast holdings that is The Institute. It is Thanksgiving morning and visions of fat roasting turkeys rotating slowly on the spits in our cavernous kitchen deep beneath the main keep, listening for the small explosions as the drippings fall into the embers. The smell coming up the spiral staircase causes a ravenous hunger to form in the most gentle of souls, all of this and more occupy my thoughts.

The gentle but suspicious lowing of the oxen in the kitchens’ holding pen adding their voices to the background of the holiday symphony slowly warming up. They are being fed as much as they can eat so they are properly ready for the holiday meals. Christmas is just around the corner and we’ll need three of them. The cook has chosen Lisa, Cranalby, and Lamont,  one for each of the walk-in fireplaces or ovens, the hoists to lift them up onto the spits already in place, oiled and ready, the chains hanging low enough that the kitchen urchins can reach them to begin slowly turning them from carcass to steamship rounds, and briskets, and steaks and huge piles of unnamed but tasty gibbets, but that was Christmas, six weeks away, today is Turkey. Yes, big turkeys. Lots of white meat, and extra legs for those that like them.

But then, there was that call coming from way down below, “Pardon our turkeys, pardon our turkeys”, the chant rolling up the tower walls into my reveries until, that’s it, enough, I had to deal with it. Sliding down the 140′ brass pole that provided a quick exit to the ground level I was brought up short by all the interns I had sent out to gather the turkeys that I had paid good money for, see http://www.bigshotsnow.com/i-got-the-info-you-got-the-bread/, wailing and gnashing their teeth, the youngest crying like they’d never murdered a bunch of turkeys before, the oldest carrying not only their hatchets but torches too. Yelling miserably “Pardon our Turkeys, pardon our turkeys” over and over. It was heart-rending. I was torn by the angst I heard in their voices. I don’t think they could have been more affected if I had announced we were going to boil up a mess of puppies. The cute kind, like Golden Retrievers or something.

So with the thought of hatchets and torches, and in the interest of keeping my staff happy I made a snap decision. Waving my arms in the air to calm them and get them to lower those hatchets I made a command decision. “OK, Ok,” I said in my most commanding voice. “As your Director and the leader of The Institute, I hereby issue the following decision. All Turkey’s brought in for the purpose of being our Thanksgiving Dinner shall heretofore be Pardoned, set free to roam The Institute’s grounds and not be considered for their edible qualities until next year, when all bets are off.” Cheers immediately broke out with loud cries of “Huzzah, huzzah!” and “Yes, Oh thank you Director!”  and even a few gobbles from the turkeys awaiting their fate.

“Turn them loose, turn them all loose.” I magnanimously said “All but Lennie the Terrible up there on the ridge. He is a rogue and a scoundrel, Bring him to me. He is a known felon who has committed grievous crimes against The Institute and must stand trial for his misdeeds at once. Take him to the kitchen I will convene court in a few moments. As for dinner we’ll be serving Cajun Lasagna in the main cafeteria.” The shock of having Lennie put on trial began to dissipate as they thought about the Cajun Lasagna, one of the all time staff favorites. Thoughts ran across their faces like a Times Square billboard. Lennie was a bastard. Nobody liked him much anyway and we got all the rest of the Turkeys pardoned. Ok cool, was the general consensus of the crowd.

All of the interns and other staff member who participated in the uprising were soon hanging around the cafeteria, their nostrils pressed against any crack in the buildings log walls, smelling the incredible scent of Cajun Lasagna, being careful not to stick their tongues on the metal trim around the windows, waiting anxiously for the dinner bell to ring.

As for me, I had the unpleasant duty to proceed with the trial of Lennie the Terrible. He was found guilty of course, the evidence being overwhelming and the sentence was carried out post-haste. We never like to see one of our prized bird friends lost but justice must be served, and Lennie will be remembered fondly at each future Thanksgiving dinner, but most especially at this one.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our family and friends where ever they may be. You are in my thoughts and I love you all. A special thank you to all of our International readers out there. I know you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but I know you have a lot to be thankful for and I want to tell you I appreciate your visits and support. There is a bunch of Aussies out there that I want to give a shout out to. Thanks, mates, and many other nationalities that have been recently visiting the blog. Last year we had visitors from 66 countries and this year we’re ahead of that total. I wish there was room to list you all, but it would be like the roll call at the United Nations. Thank you one and all. And come visit again soon.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

 

 

I Got The Info You Got The Bread

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We ‘ve had a lot of envious inquiries regarding where we get our magnificent turkeys for our Thanksgiving day dinner here at *The Institute. They are large full-breasted birds that barely fit in to our ovens over at the commissary/cafeteria. Some are so large we need to roast them for several days to get that dark golden brown sheen to their skin. They would be Boone and Crockett World Champion Turkey winners if Boone and Crockett had a category for turkeys.

Turkeys are difficult birds to hunt preferring the deepest pockets of Mountain Mahogany to hide in which are located deep in the backcountry of The Institutes vast holdings. Each year a month or so before Thanksgiving we send out wily hunters, that’s his name, Wily Hunters, to track them down so we know where to go murder them when the time is right.

Each year he comes back empty handed, or what we like to call a complete failure, and reports there are no turkeys anywhere on the property. We know this isn’t true, we hear them singing Turkey songs and making rude comments about Wily down in the valley by the Mulberry trees.

Then we hired Spock (Not his real name). Spock is a hired gun that uses his ability as an Abert Squirrel, to move through the forest with near invisibility to keep tabs on the various creatures that inhabit The Institute’s grounds. He is an Information Mercenary,  a Confidential Informer or CI if you will, a snitch to everyone else, that sells his information to anyone with enough bread to pay his exorbitant fees. And he is very good at his job. He is shown above hopping into view to spill his guts offer the whereabouts of the turkeys Wily couldn’t find. Each time he appears his first words are “You got the bread? No bread no info”.

It was expensive, three whole loaves of Nut and Oat Wheat bread, the good kind from King Soopers, but we now have the location of the biggest Tom Turkeys out there. We’re talking seventy pounders, some of the legs weigh nine pounds a piece. These are the big guys that can barely run let alone think of flying up into the trees. You can take these guys out with a heavy wooden spoon and a strong right arm.

Some might think it is cheating or underhanded to use a confidential informer to get your turkey for the big day, but I say to those people, So how big’s your turkey, eh?. We got four of those big boys for the cost of three loaves of bread. That’s like 12.00 dollars. That’s about 280 lbs. of turkey at about a nickel a pound. Even turkey farmers don’t get them that cheap when you take into account feed and electricity and paying turkey wranglers.

Got to run, it’s time to send out our heavy wooden spoon armed interns to get our birds. No, Wily Hunters will not be joining them in the hunt, or I should say, Gathering, thanks to Spock, he’s in our holding pen right now pending reassignment.

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.

They Eat Turkey, Right?

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A dialogue about Thanksgiving between Gary and Dick, the Red Canyon owls.

You know what the day after tomorrow is, right?

No, What is it?

It’s a day the humans call Thanksgiving.

So what

Don’t you know what they’re thankful for?

Un unh

They’re thankful because it’s a day they get to eat birds.

What! They eat birds? Holy crap! I just made a white spot on this rock. Umm… so like what kind of birds

I’m not real sure but I know Turkeys get real nervous about now.

You think they eat Turkeys? What about other birds, they don’t eat Owls do they?

I don’t think so but if they start handing out extra mice, don’t take any.

How do you know all this stuff?

Mom told me. She said they all get together, get a turkey, cut it’s head off, pull off all of its feathers, then cook it whole. They burn them until the skin crackles.

Get the  out of here. You’re just trying to get me to wet my feathers.

No bro, mom said. Go tell her you don’t believe they eat birds on Thanksgiving. See what she does. She’ll have your goofy butt out there stacking pellets so fast.

I’m really scared Gary. What if they want to eat owls.

I think we’re ok Dick, just don’t make any gobbling noises or wear that fake wattle you were screwing around with the other day. Also we can fly real good and Turkey’s can barely get their fat butts off the ground.

I know, but let’s go hide anyway. Where’s mom?

We Don’t Do Nothing Nice And Easy

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There are lots of canyons where they are mainly long stretched-out holes in the ground with no tops that primarily serve as a big ditch. They occasionally have a small fizzly amount of water run through them and call themselves mighty. People fall off the edge and they call themselves dangerous. A little dirt falls off their edges and is slowly carried away and they call themselves deepest. When they have a small storm pass over they call themselves dramatic. To some who have never seen a real canyon this appears to be a source of wonderment. They call them canyons.

But there are canyons and there are canyons. This is the Grand Canyon. The Grandmother of all canyons. If the perfect storm were created out of the earth instead of water it would take hundreds of them to create this canyon. Maybe thousands. When something happens here it happens on a colossal scale. Storms are bigger, deeper, higher, stronger. They contain more rain, more lightning, more power. The river that flows through it is one of the most powerful on the planet. Enough earth flows through this canyon, carried along by the strength of its movement, to form a new country.

When all those events happen at the same time we usually call that Wednesday. Where other smaller canyons do their utmost to appear mighty there is no comparison. This is the Grand Canyon, the mightiest canyon in all the world. If you thought these smaller canyons had drama they are the smallest eyelash flick of this grand old dame. Some say sixteen year old girls are the epitome of drama. Take all the sixteen year old girls alive today and all that have ever lived and their combined drama wouldn’t leave an echo in this canyon.

When something happens here it changes the world we live in. Storms, floods, rapids, waterfalls, entire counties of earth falling into the Colorado river at a time. This is the daily life of the canyon. At the Grand Canyon, we don’t do nothing nice and easy.

Reemergence

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One of the tales we have posted in the past dealt with the heart-breaking story of the Scottish Thistle farmers of the Jackson Hole area in Northern Wyoming. Briefly, they were early immigrants to the area and brought with them their ways, traditions, farming techniques, and a streak of bull-headiness seldom seen in an area noted for its stubbornness.

As described in this earlier post http://www.bigshotsnow.com/thistle-farm/ these new comers to the valley were bound and determined to sow their seeds and reap the harvest of thistle thereby capturing and dominating the thistle market. But due to ignorance and the refusal to take any advice regarding the agricultural limits in this part of the country they met with a stunning defeat, a failure of magnificent proportions, that bankrupted each and every family in the thistle industry.

Soon they were seen leaving the area. All their earthly goods piles into wains of all sizes, their women walking listlessly behind them, some carrying nursing babes at their breasts, the children, the few who had not died from the harsh unforgiving conditions dragging their hoes behind them. The little furrows they left the only sign of their passing. Some of the older men pushing their wooden wheelbarrows ahead of them, still filled with unplanted thistle seed, their hope for the future, as they headed for the new promised land in Nevada. They had heard that the conditions there were perfect for growing thistles and with that dream in their hearts they left Jackson Hole and its surrounding area forever.

The remaining thistle left behind unattended soon withered and died until there were no more thistle plants left alive in the valley. It was as if they never were. However every once in a while a fence rider would come into town and after a few daiquiri’s, or a Golden Grasshopper, both without the little umbrellas in them, this is the west after all, would tell of seeing a thistle plant growing next to a fence post. Of course he was immediately cut off and thrown out of the bar. No one wanted to hear that crazy talk. It was like the stories of Bigfoot or happy marriages, there are some things you just don’t talk about.

For years the plains were empty of thistle, stories of their reemergence swept aside as the ravings of sunblind drovers and frost bitten cowboys. Then one fateful day in early March a prospector came staggering in to town nearly dead from exposure. Clutched in his hand was a thistle. Just the red part but undeniably a thistle. The town needless to say was on the edge of mass hysteria, some not knowing whether they had been snakebit or struck by lightning. Others ran around in circles hollering “Woe are we! The thistles, they’ve returned.” Others unable to stand the stress and strain immediately got blind drunk and were last seen staggering off into the wilderness. It was a time of chaos. A time of fear.

Before long, cooler heads prevailed and the largest posse ever assembled in Teton County, Wyoming was galloping out to find and root out these thistle plants wherever they may be. They were out seven months but finally they returned with a small group of thistle tied across the packhorse’s panniers. The thistle’s heads lopped off as a symbol of victory and worn around their necks as badges of honor. They assured the nervous townsfolk that they had eradicated the thistle from the countryside and it was gone forever. A huge sigh of relief was heard throughout the land and people began to go back to work, safe in the feeling that thistle was gone and gone for good.

But the story is not over, as they seldom are, and it was one of The Institutes own researchers that was responsible for bringing it back to life. We had sent our own Scottish descendant of one of the very first families to settle in the area, Somerfed Fyfe Olgilvy Callum Ewan McLean-Kennedy/Burns or as we all knew him, Tim, to see if there was any truth to the stories of the Reemergence of the Scottish thistle. What he brought back was nothing less than remarkable, clear photographic proof that thistle was alive and well and growing in Teton County. Tim wanted to keep the location secret to protect the plant but we said no Tim, this is too big a story. We have to inform the public. People have to know about the return of the thistle. It’s their right. What the future will bring with this knowledge is anyone’s guess, but I can tell you this, the story is not over. Not while The Institute is still in existence. We will out the truth regardless of consequence. Even if it creates a thistle emergency in Jackson Hole. Let the seeds fall where they will.