|The Story of How Paul Bunyan met Babe The Blue Ox
One particularly cold afternoon Paul Bunyan and a crew of 40 men were cutting timber on the north ridge. Far across the valley below Paul could see a line moving across the snowy floor below. Paul laid a few more trees down and took another look. It was a ridge in the snow forming as when a meadow mouse moves under the first snow. At times a puff of steam would rise and a chug could be heard as a knoll was climbed.
By now word of this display had spread among the men in the forest. Speculation ran from a train running lost, to all sorts of the creatures found only in one’s imagination. The mound in the snow was now but 16 chains away, 20 crews of fellers and 15 trimming axmen stood behind the mighty legs of Paul Bunyan to be safe.
The concern among the men was high when Paul reached deep into the snow and pulled out a snowy creature…
…It was an ox! A baby ox that was as white as a swan from all the snow that had covered the little critter. Paul dug in his overalls and came out with a piece of licorice and two pieces of jerky. Before a right offering could be made, that little ox had snapped up the licorice like a frog would eat a fly.
The sun was falling fast and Paul Bunyan and the rest of the crew headed back to the logging camp. Paul made a point to drag his boot making such a path that the men made it back to camp in half the usual time. Walking with the men was this snow covered little ox, this babe of an ox!
Once this crew was back at camp, they headed straight to the Mess Hall. Paul stoked the pot bellied stove to where the whole stove glowed red like an ember. He set the little white ox by the stove and had a conversation with the camp cook Sourdough Sam. Before long Sam handed Paul a stack of syrup covered pancakes that were 6 feet high. That little ox tore thru that stack of pancakes like he hadn’t eaten in a week, all the while using a blue tongue to lick up the syrup. Paul thundered “come over here you babe and let me clear that snow off of you”. By now the thick snow coating the little ox had softened to where Paul could clear it away. Much to everyone’s surprise this ox was as blue as a mid-day sky. Paul checked his hungry friend over and remembering his preference for the sweets, surmised that this babe of an ox had turned blue from eating blueberries all winter.
Looks like Paul had a new friend, a little ox, a babe of a blue ox — Babe the Blue Ox! From that moment on Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox were the best of friends. Paul had a standing order with Sourdough Sam for a six foot stack of pancakes with extra syrup. Babe did so much eating that winter that he grew to gigantic proportions. Soon he was doing the work of twenty of his kind.
The rest of that snowy winter soon had passed. With the snow gone and the ice melted off the roads, the logging camp closed for the season. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox ventured out of the big woods and into the open farmland to the south. Paul always thought ahead and was thinking Babe would need a big haystack to eat among other things in the coming winter. Paul Bunyan watched an especially large hayfield and when the time came to put the hay up, Paul struck a deal with the farmer. Paul and Babe would pile the cut hay in exchange for a large haystack to be delivered to the logging camp.
Paul left Babe at the edge of the field while twenty men with teams of horse cut the hay. Two days later Paul returned from town with a big smile, and a keg of something under his arm. Babe did not know of the hay stacking deal. This caused Paul Bunyan to smile even more about what was soon to happen! After being assured that the hay had properly dried, Paul backed Babe the Blue Ox into the corner of the field. Paul winked at Babe and thundered “close your eyes and hold still now”. With that Paul Bunyan cracked the keg over Babe’s massive horns, letting the pepper inside flow right past Babe’s cart sized nostrils. Babe drew a deep breath almost by reflex. The massive blue ox’s nose started to drip. Babe shook his head while holding his breath. Without exhaling Babe drew an even larger breath, then another and another! Soon the Blue Ox couldn’t take it any longer and he let out with a sneeze. It was a sneeze so large and so loud that the birds in the air were blown to the next county.
Paul’s plan had worked exactly how it was supposed to. When the dust had settled you could plainly see all the hay had been blown into a massive and tight haystack ready for the winter!
Paul watched as Babe continued shaking his mighty head. Paul began to laugh at Babe and his enormous sneeze! The thought of his friend sneezing and all the planning involved made the whole thing even funnier to the giant lumberjack. Soon Paul Bunyan was laughing so hard he was slapping his knee. Paul laughed so hard he began to stamp his foot. The ground shook as if an earthquake was upon them. The laughing and stomping continued causing a tremendously deep hole to form in the ground beneath Paul’s huge boot! Eventually calm returned.
Paul Bunyan and Babe walked side by side to admire the winter hay supply. Paul assured Babe that there would be plenty of pancakes to eat as well. Soon, a crowd had formed over by the deep shaft that had been caused by all the stomping of Paul. Just like that, a well-dressed man had fallen into the deep boot made hole. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox ran to the hole. The ground shook with each massive stride. Paul backed Babe to the hole’s edge. Babe sat down on his hind end allowing the full length of Babe’s mighty blue tail to drop into the deep dark hole. The man grabbed onto Babe’s tail and Paul Bunyan instructed the giant ox to stand, bringing the man back to the fresh air and daylight of the hayfield. The crowd cheered with approval!
That man was neither scared nor upset by the whole incident. For he came up with a magnificent piece of Iron Ore. The man had been searching for fortune, and had found it! This shaft of the stomped hole was to become the start of the Cuyuna Iron range!
Although the stories in the North Woods tend to grow as big as the trees, I know these tales to be substantially accurate. They were told to me in a thundering voice by a man now too old to trudge through the deep snow, a man sitting tall in a cabin way back in the pines, a giant of a man with size fifty boots. Well any how we all know who I am talking about!