Eight Is Not Enough

Eight is not enough unless it’s Bighorn rams all in an unexpected bunch walking along highway 14 on a Friday afternoon. Then eight is plenty. I mean you can be greedy and ask for more but that is just plain selfish, eight is enough. They’re bunched up pretty good but look carefully and count and you’ll find eight good rams there amongst the ewes. They stayed tightly grouped like this. You could have dropped a net over the whole lot of them and got them all.

The rut is over, at least for this bunch it is. For those of you in the know the rut is when the rams get all chesty and full of themselves and believe that they are each God’s gift to the ewes and are the only ones fit to breed and gift the world with their progeny and will battle to the death with the other rams to prove it. But when it’s over and the fighting is done and the breeding is finished they’re all like “Dude! How you doing. Sorry ’bout that! You OK? Let’s go get a Pizza. No, I’m buying. You still got a headache, me too.” They’re all BFF, until next year that is, then it happens all over again.

This group of about fifteen animals appeared to be in really good shape. Healthy, well fed, alert. They’re not all that skittish, allowing people to be within 50-75′ before they begin moving off but they will bolt uphill at sudden movements of any observers. It may be stating the obvious but the rams are heavy bodied and have the very heavy horns and the ewes have smaller bodies with the small somewhat short horns. There is always one or more of the ewes on watch and the rams tend to stay on the outside of the herd but not always. The more at ease they are the less they appear to be in defense mode.

These guys were spotted on March 2 and it was in the 50’s in the mountains. What that means for an early spring is anybody’s guess with our nonexistent global warming happening, but whatever it is here’s your Bighorns. Enjoy.

Christmas Gift selection # 6 For 2017 – Your Very Own National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

Note: This is a repost of one of our Top Ten Gifts for the discerning buyer originally published in December of 2013, a year that will live in infamy. In what has become a half-assed tradition here at The Institute we have been irregularly reposting these now famous gift selections at this time of year when we remember to do so, in a lame attempt to create a Holiday Tradition and mostly because we suddenly realize it’s Christmas time and we don’t have squat done as far as writing new stuff. It’s fun and we don’t have to spend the time taxing our limited sense of originality making that new stuff up. Enjoy.

Your Very Own National Park!!!

Here it is, your chance to own a National Park known the world over for its scenery and wildlife with no strings attached. That’s right, you would be the sole owner! Keep it like it is, Develop it, Scrape it and put up a better one, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. What an incredible gift this will make for that special person on your list. This National park has it all, towering majestic 14,000′ peaks, the mountains that scrape the sky, teeming wildlife populations that include huge free-roaming elk herds, black bear, owls, eagles, marmots and chipmunks, fish, 11 coyotes, some beaver, Bighorn Sheep, and a pika.

How can this be? you ask. Well what most people don’t know is that *The Institute has a real estate division that often contracts with the Federal government to dispose of property it no longer wants. We were contacted by the Department of Interior to conduct a sale of this National Park due to policy changes that no longer emphasized the focus on Nature and it’s attractions. Since the downturn and sequestering and the lack of attention to the American publics wants and needs it has been decided to liquidate some of our most popular Natural attractions to show our willingness to be fiscally responsible. While this may be disturbing to the few who actually like Nature it is an incredible opportunity for one of you, or a group if you decide to pool your lunch money, to own a huge part of American history, not to mention acreage.

This National Park, which we can not name at this time due to federal regulations, but whose initials are Rocky Mountain National Park, will be offered for sale beginning this week by closed auction. Opening bids start at $20.00 and will continue until we decide that’s enough money and close the sale. Since the Director will have the final say and this is a private sale open only to people we like or that have an impressive amount of money, foreign governments welcomed, any considerations made to the Director personally will be taken into consideration ( for clarification contact the Director at his private number, all offers confidential )  in deciding when to close the sale.

This sale includes the National Park, all 265,761 acres, it’s infrastructure including all buildings, roads, water rights, lakes, ponds and puddles and necessary fencing, any personal effects left by departing staff members, all wild life including any offspring born to said park wildlife outside the boundaries of the park, the food service court located at the visitor center on Trail ridge road, all other concessions connected to the park, anything with the name Rocky Mountain National Park on it, the right to charge admission to enter and set regulations regarding that visit, if you desire to continue allowing access by the public that is, the ability to retain any proceeds from the sale of items left in the lost and found department and other perks to numerous to mention.

Bidding begins at noon December 24th and ends at 12:00am December 31st. Winning bid will be announced January 15th, 2014. All bids are to be in cash or bearers bonds, presented directly to the Director of The Institute by the end of business on December 31st, 2013 and are non-refundable. The Director has sole authority to determine winner in case of tying bids. So here’s your chance to really suck up to the guy. Any inducements no matter how lewd will be entertained. Title will be conveyed by an act of Congress sometime in the future.

National Park bidding begins at $20.00

Take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity and bid early and often. If you aren’t successful on this property there is the possibility that two more properties are on the block for later disposal. We can’t disclose which two but think Big Ditch and Geysers and you’ll be close.

Merry Christmas everyone!

* 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.

Damp Secrets

Note to Readers: Some of you are no doubt aware of the closing and disappearance of *The Institute and its Director some time ago. It was a great loss to the scientific world and others who came to depend on it for its constant focus on the mysteries and unbelievable occurrences that take place daily in the unique world of science and beyond. Also some of you may know that The Director and I were very close and consequently when the time came for the storing and protection of the thousands of records, papers, dissertations, reports, receipts, photographs, line drawings, notes, candid recorded conversations, DVD’s, CD’s, books, magazines, letters, everything that an Institute would produce in the every day workings of a huge but giant scientific endeavor he turned to me and said “Can I dump this crap on you for awhile? At least until I can find some suckers investors to get this Institute thing back on its feet?” Of course I couldn’t say no to my friend of so many years and accordingly two and a half large U-Haul’s arrived stuffed to the gills with countless black trash bags containing the entire recorded history of The Institute. In the attempted cataloging of all of this material I came across what appears to be an un-submitted report titled The Aquatic Life of The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. It is in a very rough draft form and I have elected to publish it exactly as it was found, warts and all. No redactions, no alterations, no dressing it up. After all, life and science aren’t always tidy or even pretty. A lot of stuff is glossed over and hidden by the various organizations that prepare these types of publications as the paper goes into preparation for submission to the various scientific journals that publish this kind of work. And The Institute was not an exception. The large unwashed and uninformed layman or laypeople (and even some of the small slim ones) that read it because it’s free, who don’t have a scientific background and usually couldn’t care less about this stuff yet do read it have to be pandered to. So with that thought in mind here follows what is the initial draft of the report in its entirety.

Title proposals for the Bighorn sheep report:

The Aquatic Life of The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

” Wet Sheep and Those That Love Them”

“Damp Hooves and the Sheep that Own Them”

“Heavy Boney Horns and How They Help In Keeping Bighorn Sheep Submerged”

“The Untold Story of Bighorn Sheep and Their Aquatic Adventures”

“Why Bighorn sheep will Willingly Spend Much of The Winter At the Bottom of Large Bodies of Water and How This affects Their Ability to Behave Normally in the Spring When They emerge and Why they Walk Funny for Days After”

“Damp Secrets” (Use this one. It’s a grabber. Sounds vaguely dirty. HBO fans will click on this one)

Premise: Bighorn Sheep are suspected of entering and remaining at the bottom of deep pockets of water in lakes and rivers in Yellowstone National Park to hibernate over the Winter when food supplies are minimal. Much like bears but wetter. Although this behavior has never been reported by Naturalists or Biologists or anyone else who knows what they’re talking about, that doesn’t mean that this can’t happen. It just means they’re probably doing a shoddy job. Grab this premise and run with it. The Enquirer and the Star have both raised their payment structure for this type of material. See if you can’t work “aliens” into the premise somehow. Also see if our contacts in Washington with the Department of Interior want to get in on this before their funding is completely cancelled due to the prevailing thought that Nature and wildlife and even the Interior are no longer necessary. Might as well grab what we can out of this debacle while there is still some money left.

Documents proving the theory: A crumpled up photo of a Bighorn sheep marked “Destroy not relevant unless you’re fabricating story”, that shows a Bighorn lying in an awkward position on a bank above the Lamar river. Still damp. (The sheep not the photo) Midges surrounding it after a hatch. ( could this midge behavior be one of the triggers that cause the Bighorns to awake and leave the depths of the water where we believe they hibernate over the winter. If this can’t be documented use it anyway as it’s a good tie-in that we can pitch to The Nature Channel, they’ll use anything if you can put an English accent voice-over on it.) Animal appeared to be lethargic and unresponsive to questions hollered at it. Noticed small trickle of what appears to be water dripping from nasal passages. Could this be the undocumented and completely unfounded Nasal Transference Reacclimation or “NTR”  where the water in the lungs is slowly replaced with oxygen so the sheep can return to their terran lifestyle?

The Bighorn rams appear to be extremely vulnerable at this state of their emergence due to their horns having been softened by their prolong submergence in the deep mineral rich waters found in the park. The composition of the horn is normally very dense and is made of a concrete-like material called “concreto” or sometimes “Acme Horn Hardener” that the sheep obtain by licking the surface of highways and parked concrete trucks. Those rams living nearest to construction sites will normally have the largest and hardest horns. But as this is uncured concrete which is not completely non-soluble, they are vulnerable to the leeching and decompositing of the horn material and the longer the submergence the more the horn becomes soft, and at extreme time intervals the horn will be completely absorbed by the watery surroundings. This is bad. If this happens the ram cannot be distinguished from the ewes and enters a transgendered state known as Hornlessness and can be made fun of by the other rams and even some of the less compassionate ewes. We don’t know what this does to the Ram’s psyche yet but a full investigation seems warranted. Note: check into suicide rates for hornless rams.

Some additional questions to be answered and documented, or at least made plausible sounding so we can put this out there and still be able to stand unashamed under any close scrutiny.

Question #1: What about ewes an lambs. Are they any better to eat after being submerged?

Question #2: How do the smaller animal stay anchored in some of the swifter flowing streams they enter? We surmise that the sticky almost tar-like coating on the bottom of their hooves becomes even stickier and adheres to the larger rocks and boulders at the bottom of the waterways. Also we believe they turn facing upstream and hunch down into a wedge-like shape that makes them streamlined. The force of the water rushing over their bodies helps push them down onto the surface of the stream bottom much the way scoops and spoilers keep a race car on the track, holding them in place. Plus they deflatulent themselves as they enter the water making them less buoyant. If you have noticed any bubbles or minor disturbances on the water’s surface this may be a clue to hibernating Bighorn sheep. This is a confirmed fact as I, and I know countless others have seen Bighorn sheep flatulently entering into bodies of water. We just didn’t understand what all the noise and hopping about and giggling was for.

Question #3: Can we get someone less intelligent to dive into these warm to boiling waters in Yellowstone, someone with a higher than normal pain tolerance, to photograph a small group of Bighorns or even a fairly large herd at rest beneath the surface to add more credence to this story? Maybe some shots with native Cutthroats acting as remora type attachments to the sheep’s back. Or possibly them feeding on the seaweed that grows on the bottom of the rivers or lakes?

Initial Summary for Submission:

We have found a unique new unknown behavioral pattern for the Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep. After observation by our highly trained research professionals, each one a specialist specializing in a different discipline of animal behavioral patterns that are not your normal animal activity, and in fact tend to be grouped into Goofy, Unsubstantiated, Outright BullPucky, and the Difficult to Swallow but not Fake News categories, we have come to the conclusion that Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep do something really weird. If it weren’t for finding a beat up wrinkled old photograph (see above) of a Bighorn sheep damply resting by the edge of the Lamar river we wouldn’t feel confident in making these surprising statements.

Rocky mountain Bighorn sheep hibernate through the Winter below the surface of various lakes and rivers in The Yellowstone area. Now, we’ve said it. There it is. Surprising? Yes. Impossible? Ah, maybe, but then again we got some good evidence here. And remember if we say it often enough you’re going to start believing it. That’s just a short jump from getting back in the funding business. And The Institute could be off and running again.

Hard as that may seem to believe the evidence is growing in support of this premise.

  • We have the somewhat damaged image of a damp Bighorn sheep resting on the river where he had just emerged from hibernation.
  • We have water emitting from the Bighorn’s nose as it undergoes Nasal Transference Reacclimation  or “NTR” where it trades the water that had been filling its lungs all Winter long with life giving oxygen so it can resume living on the land.
  • We have a Bighorn ram anxiously looking around for enemies and threats as its horns reharden in the afternoon sun.
  • We have documented sightings of bubbles and other small disturbances to the water’s surface indicating there are hibernating sheep below.
  • Plus a myriad of other inconclusive but sort of facts that we created to substantiate this theory.

So in general we feel pretty good about putting this out there. End of first draft. Get this proofread and ready for submission ASAP. Signed The Director.

This is the first of many scientific reports we know that are mixed in with all the other storage stuff from The Institute. As we sort through and find more unique studies we will be bringing them to your attention.

* 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.

The Rosetta Stone



While travelling the inner depths of Capitol Reef National Park we stumbled on to what we believe is one of the most significant finds in recent history as it relates to the progression of artistic skill in Anasazi rock art. This discovery is bound to shake the art world to its very core and set Art historians on a new path of understanding as to how the Anasazi went from being rock pounders to major artists.

If you remember your history you know that the smartest minds in the archaeology world could not begin to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics. It was like Chinese arithmetic, really hard and it made their brains hurt, so many just gave up, feeling dumb and ashamed. They just went home, defeated. It wasn’t until some lucky guy found this stone called the Rosetta stone that had three different languages on it translating the same off-color joke into all the other languages. If we remember correctly the languages were Greek, a form of Inuit called “Inuktitut”, and of course hieroglyphics itself. That made it easy. A group of guys and one woman made up of Greek, Inuit and Egyptian scholars soon had the hieroglyphics translated and now practically anybody can just pick up something written in hieroglyphics and read it like it was yesterday’s obits. Because that was what most hieroglyphics were, stuff about dead kings, kings that were already dead, kings that were about to be dead, people who wanted to be king but changed their minds because they didn’t want to become dead, and so on. The obituaries of the day.

So what does this have to do with the art world you ask. Plenty. People who study petroglyphs, Anasazi rock art, have wondered for years “Why didn’t these guys ever get any better ?” Look at any rock depiction of Bighorn sheep. They all look exactly the same no matter when they were created. For like a hundred years these Anasazi petroglyph makers never changed how they created an image of a Bighorn sheep, or any other subject for that matter. You would think with all that practice they’d have gotten better by accident. But they didn’t. They just hammered away in the same old style.

Then the image above was taken showing what was to become the Rosetta Stone of the art world. On this newly discovered rock panel you can see there is a petroglyph in the upper right hand corner of one of the Anasazi’s favorites subjects, an undefined lump or something, maybe the start of another Bighorn sheep that they screwed up and just abandoned, (there is no erasing in Petroglyphs) and this splendid but remarkable painting of foliage in the style of Monet, Renoir, Mr. van Rijn, O’Keeffe. This was a quantum leap forward for the Anasazi, as it showed that at least one of them got sick to death of painting sheep.

*The Institute immediately sent in its crack team of art historians, restoration-ists, and gawkers to secure this painting and to analyze how it was done. They have slowly been taking this image apart piece by piece, picking at it with sharp things, rubbing it gently with 36 grit sandpaper to see what’s underneath, asking themselves “How did they do it? How did these Anasazi’s go from no-talent rock chippers to this level of  sophistication without attending some prestigious art school?” The questions kept building the more they reduced this image to a mere shadow on the wall.

Some new facts were gleaned from this process. One was that the painting was done with brushes made of wooly mammoth hair wrapped onto a slender willow switch, and another was the paint was analyzed and found to be a combination of crushed berries which were used to create the Alizarin Crimson seen in the leaves, acrylic paint from the Artist Den, some off-brand oil paint of the type found at Hobby Lobby all bound together in a matrix of Toad fat. Our experts are still trying to come up with an explanation for the inconsistencies that this brings up, but these are smart people and they’ll come up with some plausible answers. After all their jobs depend on it.

While we are hard at work figuring out all this stuff so that you don’t have to, take a moment to study the image. See how wonderfully clear the artist created the leaves and stems. Look how every leaf conforms to the rock surface it was painted onto, yet shows the brilliant colors that make this image come alive. It ‘s hard to believe that this was painted 1100 years ago.

The Institute will be studying this image plus any more we find, to discover just what new stage in the art of the Ancients this led to. We’ll have those answers and more as this story unfolds. Stay tuned.

* 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.

Double Dog Dare Ya

DoubleDogDare6650click image to enlarge

Rog mom said we weren’t to get this close to the edge unless she was with us.

Yeah she always says stuff like that. Look how cool it is down there.

It looks awful steep to me. Remember when you fell and rolled halfway down the hill. It wasn’t nearly as steep as this.

Gyp you are such a wuss. My foot slipped. Besides it was fun. Let’s go down there.

NO way. Last time you pulled something like this mom didn’t let us have any milk for a whole day.

Gyp, I dare ya.

NO Rog, no flippin’ way

Gyp, I double dog dare ya.

Un uhn, that’s not working this time, Rog, you want to go down there, you go. But if you do I’m telling.

Ok, then I’m calling you sissy, and in front of that little lamb you like.

Don’t go down there Rog. How you going to get back up. You’ll fall. I’m telling you. Rog don’t, Oh man, Rog come on, I’ll let you go first at the nursing station. Rog…

Ma! Rog went over the side. I can’t see him anymore. Ma!   Ma!


Road Trip


Every once in a while we take a chance here at The Institute and do something really nice for our employees. This year we shut The Institute down completely for the entire holiday season, banked the fires, put the computers in standby, turned off the electricity to the fence, turned our livestock loose to fend for themselves, gave all of our interns a bus ticket to the last place they remember being from and The Institute went into hibernation until the New Year’s bells rang.

Now we are ramping up again. Everyone is slowly trickling back from where ever they spent the holidays. Just yesterday the bright, shiny, baby blue bus that the Sheriff’s department uses to transport prisoners hither and yon, hither being County road 56G where they cheerfully spread blacktop for the entire fortnight of the holidays, and yon, back to the tent city up near the Soapstone Wildlife Preserve where they ate sagebrush and tried not to freeze to death, dropped off the interns and two of our PhD’s that had spent the Christmas holidays in the bosom of the Larimer County Work but not release program.

Fortunately our critical employees like our chef returned a day early to get the fires built back up again. Of course he returned because we kept the back seat out of his 1968 Buick Boattail Riviera as an incentive to come back. You can not find replacements for those anywhere, I don’t care if you look on Craigslist, eBay, AutoZone, or any junkyard from here to the Philippines, they’re just not available. It’s good to see that coal-black smoke roiling out of the commissaries chimneys again. It won’t be long before the scent of coal fires and Lamprey stew and frozen dinners will coat the buildings with a thin layer of grease again. I know some of our interns cannot wait. Which is good because they’ve already chewed so much bark off the aspen I don’t know what the elk are going to eat this winter,

Our Chief of Security was also an early returnee. She had to put new brushes in the generator that keeps the fence electrified and to test fire the AR-15’s that were stored in the gun locker. Plus she just likes shooting stuff and it’s difficult to find a place where you can discharge automatic weapons with impunity. Our med staff came back because there would be a lot of cases to treat amongst the returning interns due to their living rough as they call it. Rashes, bites, broken teeth, infected tattoos, malnutrition, loss of key parts of their bodies from unknown incidents, bruises from manacles and restraints, loss of body hair from attending New Year’s parties, colds, hypo and hyper thermia, hearing loss from listening to Mother’s and other loved ones telling them to get a real job, acute disorientation, many terrible nearly untreatable diseases from those who traveled outside the country to their home of origin, and sea sickness. Our med staff is ready, in fact some of them were walking around with their rubber gloves on already.

Our animals got time off also. The wolves went up to Yellowstone to visit friends, the grizzlies that watch the far-flung perimeter of The Institute had reservations at Sandals again this year. They just can’t get enough of the Turks and Caicos, Saint Lucia and Antigua. Our resident Elk herd made the short pilgrimage to Rocky Mountain National Park to see the in-laws. Our own Bighorn Sheep herd went to visit cousins and other extended family down in the Black Mountains near Kingman Arizona. They’re a little late checking in but they were sighted on Highway 34 near Allenspark just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park where they were going to stop for a night to see friends and drop off a few Desert Bighorns who wanted to see the park first hand, or hoof as it were.

It’s always a good feeling to get The Institute back up and running. Soon we’ll be having our meetings, setting agendas and summer trips schedules, putting the interns back to work with planting and watering and hoeing. They’ll be getting that lower 160 acres planted to Rutabagas again and be busy stirring up the carp ponds. Fresh fish again, they like that. We here at The Institute hope your holidays went well and you’re back in the grind with a fresh mind and rested feet. Drop us a line when you’re not busy. Let us know how your holidays went. We’ve already heard from Aunt Pheeb. Uncle Skid got out of Rikers in time to make it home for Christmas. She didn’t even know he was in New York, he had just gone out for cigarettes, but that’s a story for another time. Have a good New Year.

Animal Portraits – Bighorn Sheep

2015-11-05Animal PortraitsBighorn2385

Every blue moon we bring you an Animal Portrait. It’s not a blue moon but there is always time to present an Animal Portrait regardless of the Lunar calendar. This is a Bighorn Sheep ram and he is called Ishmael because he asked us to.

This is also a captive animal who resides at a nearby zoo. As always we prefer to shoot in the wild but sometimes one is presented with a situation where the subject commands a photo session. Such was the case with Ishmael. He is such an imposing individual, so full of character and strength, that nothing would do but to stop in our tracks and photograph him.

We usually don’t do much black & white photography but nothing else would focus our attention on the strength and iron resolve that resides in those horns. If you want to see others in our animal portraits project, type in Animal portraits or Captive beauty into the search box at the top of the post.