Like the Sahara Desert

Hard Rock Shorty of Death Valley

“This place must be a great deal like the Sahara desert,” remarked one of the tourists who had stopped at the Inferno store to ask about the location of Death Valley Scotty’s mine.
“Do you ever see any ostriches or camels wandering around over these barren sand dunes?”

“Not any more,” said Hard Rock Shorty. “Usta be some ostriches here, but Ol’ Pisgah Bill got rid of ’em. They wuz too dumb to do any work, an’ they kept eatin’ up his grub. He finally gave ’em all to the zoo down in Los Angeles.

“Bill had a good idea—only it didn’t work. It was back in the old days when the wimen wuz all wearin’ ostrich plumes on their hats. Ostrich farms wuz springin’ up everywhere. Bill read in the papers about a big ostrich ranch down in Phoenix which sold $60,000 worth of feathers in one year.

“So Bill sent to the gov’ment printin’ office an’ got all the information he could about ostriches. The more he read the more certain he was that them big birds ‘d thrive in Death Valley. ‘They eat anything,’ he explained, ‘an’ they don’t drink much water. Death Valley’s just the place fer ostriches.’

“The next winter Bill hit a purty good pocket in that gold mine o’ his over in the Panamints, an’ as soon as he got his returns from the mill he sent down to Phoenix to buy a couple o’ them ostriches.

“Bill’s idea wuz to make ’em work fer a livin’. He’d train ’em to pack out ore like a burro, an’ when pluckin’ time came he’d gather a few feathers—and that would be an extra bit o’ profit.

“Trouble wuz, them ostriches did jes what all the books said they’d do—they ate everything. Second morning after Bill got ’em into camp up in Eight Ball crick one o’ them big birds stuck his head in the window o’ Bill’s little shack an’ swallered Bill’s can o’ coffee. The other bird saw what wuz goin’ on and it reached in an’ took the coffee pot in one gulp. Bill had to keep the house locked, the windows closed, and all his tools out o’ sight, cause them birds jest gobbled up everything layin’ around.

“An’ to make it worse, the only way Pisgah could get ’em to pack rock wuz to walk ahead of them carryin’ something to eat. They wuz too dumb to learn, an’ the burros didn’t like ’em either.

“The final showdown came  one mornin’ when one of them ostriches walked into the mine tunnel and swallered three sticks o’ dynamite. As it came out it passed close to one of the burros, and the animal hauled off an’ gave it a kick. The explosion killed the burro, blew down the shack, an’ the bird was sick fer a week. That wuz the last straw. Bill gave the ostriches to the zoo.”

~ from Desert Magazine – June 1958

The Coyote Killers

Every Time You See This!

Short Serialized Sleepy-time Stories for Saturday and Sunday presents:

~ Coyote Killers ~

A story that is just for our weekend visitors and will be deleted by Monday morning.

Coyote Killers – Part I

Bill Frakes was a sheepman from Argentina. He came up to California for the opportunities which awaited him. He ended up homesteading along the Mojave near the old Camp Cady.

Coyote Killers – Part II

Life as a sheep rancher could be mundane, but Bill kept things mixed up. Once, to have some help on his ranch, took in a young parolee who needed a place to stay. At night Bill would take his boots and hide them so the young man would not escape. One morning Bill woke up to find his boots as well as the kid, missing.

Coyote Killer’s – Part III

Frakes was angry when he burst out the door in his stocking feet. He found the varmint’s trail in the sandy riverbed immediately. After all, he knew what his boot track looked like. He force-marched downstream and found the culprit cowering behind a bush. Frakes beat the kid about the shoulders and head and kicked him a few times to additionally make his point. Bill yanked his boots off of him and made him walk back to the cabin barefoot. It is my understanding the kid left the place in the custody of the Sheriff and barefoot. Furthermore, I heard the kid died in prison after being either shivved with a shank or shanked with a shive.

continued …

Coyote Killers – Part IV

Apparently hobbling by stripping off a criminal’s boots was fairly common place as an enhancement to security. Jails could often be just a backroom in a shack and easy to escape from. Years later, after Bill’s episode, there was a kid sheriff out in Greenwater east of Death Valley. The kid was only 19, but he was big, well over 6 foot tall. He was the kind of guy that was well-liked and commanded respect. Charles Brown made an arrest at a saloon to quell a drunken argument turned fight that had busted up a chair. Charles decided to let him sleep it off and settle up for the damaged chair and be on his way sober and in the morning. But that wasn’t what fate had in store for Charles. …

… continued …

Coyote Killers – Part V

Charlie had decided to spend the night guarding the prisoner. After taking his boots and throwing them up on the roof, Charlie kicked off his own boots and was soon snoring away at his desk. That’s when the jailbird tip-toed out of his room and across the wood floor stealing Charlie’s big boots for his escape.

Even though the young Sheriff slept another 3 hours before he realized there had been an escape, the way over-sized boots had been an impediment to progress slowing the escapee down considerably. The barefoot Sheriff removed his boots from the man and they made the walk back together discussing how the charges for escape would affect his sentence.

Continued …

Coyote Killers – Part VI

There’s one other story about a deserter from the U.S. Army who was caught on a stolen horse and was made to walk barefoot back to camp, but I really need to get back to the story about Mr. Frakes.

So old Bill Frakes, being a dutiful shepherd, was always on the lookout for ways of protecting his flock from predators. like coyotes, Coyotes could decimate a flock of sheep. Bill learned the local sheep, the Bighorn sheep, could fret a coyote pretty seriously. The big sheep had no fear of them and would kick them to death if given the opportunity. All things considered, Bill came up with the perfect idea.

continued …

Part VII

Coyote Killers – Part VI

There’s one other story about a deserter from the U.S. Army who was caught on a stolen horse and was made to walk barefoot back to camp, but I really need to get back to the story about Mr. Frakes.

So old Bill Frakes, being a dutiful shepherd, was always on the lookout for ways of protecting his flock from predators. like coyotes, Coyotes could decimate a flock of sheep. Bill learned the local sheep, the Bighorn sheep, could fret a coyote pretty seriously. The big sheep had no fear of them and would kick them to death if given the opportunity. All things considered, Bill came up with the perfect idea. Mix breed Bighorn and domestic sheep.

continued …

Coyote Killers – Part VIII – Conclusion

As far as anyone can tell bill proceeded with his experiments and was not really heard of all that much afterwards. One visitor to the ranch said he’d some “obviously sad and misguided creatures,” tied to a post near a trough, and heard a sheep crying from a cabin in the distance. It has been generally accepted that Dr. Frakes was not successful as a genetic engineer.

the end.