THE COW AND THE CALF by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)


by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

A cow and a calf, or a calf and a cow
Either way that you say it, it don’t matter how;
But there’s the foundation of all the beef trade,
And it always has been since the first beef was made.

Calves may have had fathers or sisters and brothers,
But they wore the same brand that was put on their mothers.
If hundreds of cattle was mixed in a herd,
When a cow claimed a calf, the whole world took her word.

Folks thought more of calves than of children, they did.
In them days nobody adopted a kid,
But a whole lot of fellers jest couldn’t be stopped,
If a calf was onbranded and there to adopt.

So you caint blame a cow for the way she took care,
And fed and purtected her calf every where.
And the whole cattle business I’ll tell you right now
Depended a heap on the sense of a cow.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

Bruce Kiskaddon’s poem appeared in the Western Livestock Journal in 1935.

Frank King wrote, in his introduction to Kiskaddon’s 1924 book, “Rhymes of the Ranges,” “Bruce Kiskaddon is a real old time cowboy, having started his cattle ranch experience in the Picket Wire district of southern Colorado as a kid cowhand and rough string rider and later on northern Arizona ranges…”

Find much more about Kiskaddon and many more poems in features at

This photo was taken earlier this year, just after the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, by poet, reciter, regional historian, and chuck wagon cook Linda Kirkpatrick. She told us, “I saw this little steer in a pasture in Terlingua, Texas. I loved the way his color blended with the colors of the desert, so, being me, I looked in every direction and did a turn around in the middle of the highway to go back and catch his portrait.”

Find more about Linda Kirkpatrick, including her books and recordings, at and find her “Somewhere in the West” column in The Hill Country Herald.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this photograph with this post, but for other uses, request the photographer’s permission. The poem is in the public domain.)