SHOVELING ICE OUT OF THE TROUGH by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)


“Cows,” © 2017, Jo Lynne Kirkwood

by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

It’s frosty in the mornin’
when you wake up in the shack.
When you roll out of yore blankets,
makes the chill go up yore back.
By the time you’ve got yore breakfast
it is nice and warm inside,
But it’s time to git a goin’.
You must saddle up and ride.

There is thick ice every mornin’
and you’ve got to chop it off.
Ice is all right in a highball,
but it’s no good in a trough.
If the cattle don’t git water
it soon begins to show,
They don’t keep in good condition
jest a lickin’ up some snow.

I read once in a paper
what some wise perfessors think.
They claim it’s only water
that us humans ort to drink.
I’m jest speakin’ fer the cowboys,
and I reckon as a class,
They’ll drink nothin’ else but water,
when perfessors lives on grass.

The cows and calves look sorry,
a walkin’ through the snow,
With their backs humped up an shivverin’
and bawlin’ sorter low.
A cowboy’s life’s a tough one
but I reckon anyhow,
I’d sooner be a cowboy
than I would to be a cow.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

This poem appeared in Bruce Kiskaddon’s 1935 book, Western Poems. He has a number of great poems about Winter and Christmas.

Kiskaddon worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898 in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. He published short stories and nearly 500 poems. His poems are among the most admired and the most recited in the “classic” cowboy poetry canon.

Much of what is known about Kiskaddon and his work comes from “Open Range,” Bill Siems’ monumental collection of Kiskaddon’s poetry. Bill Siems also collected Bruce Kiskaddon’s short stories in a book called “Shorty’s Yarns.” Find more in the Kiskaddon features at

Utah storyteller, poet, writer, and rural teacher Jo Lynne Kirkwood’s drawing, “Cows,” appears on her 2017 Christmas card. Find her accompanying poem here next week  when the celebration of the 18th annual Christmas at the BAR-D begins.

Jo Lynne Kirkwood has a fine book that collects her poetry, Old Stories, and recordings.

Find more about her at; at her site,; and on Facebook.