by Duane Nelson
I’d like to cowboy for a livin’, but the pay just ain’t too good,
so I had to figure out another way.
Took a loan out from my banker, only mortgaged half my life,
house in town and all I’d saved, but that’s OK,
Cuz I leased myself some pasture, and bought a bunch of cows,
And I settled back to let myself get rich.
No more workin’ for the “other guy,” just handle my own stock.
I’ll tell ya, boys, I finally found my niche.
Three good bulls and sixty mamas, now that’s sixty calves a year,
Keep your heifers, sell the steers at market price.
Just slap yer brand onto ’em, let nature take its course,
Yeah it’s a gamble but it sure beats rollin’ dice.
Bought myself a one-ton, four wheel drive and dually too,
and a goose-neck trailer I can haul around.
Got a good old bay ranch gelding, a slick-fork saddle too,
And two “good” dogs I got down at the pound.
Now I’m set up for the “easy life,” just cowboy work to do,
and that’s more fun than work is what I say.
Just ride out in the sunshine, watch cows eat and poop and sleep,
And at shippin’ time I’ll gather in my pay.
But my fences started goin’ down; my horse was gettin’ tired,
from chasin’ cattle from the neighbor’s wheat.
So I bought myself some wire, four-point barbed and shiny new,
And somehow got it up all straight and neat.
‘Course that was kinda spendy, but I’d figured in the cost,
And I knew I’d still be rolling in the dough.
But I didn’t count on scours; my calves got awful sick,
and that was just the start of all my woes.
I had three cows abort their calves, pine needles were to blame,
and then there was a prolapse in the night.
I tell ya, that’s a struggle, in the ice and wind and rain,
But the old girl lived, I guess we got it right!
Then there’s hoof rot and pneumonia, then flies become a pain,
And of course you know there’s bloat and ringworm too.
And you gotta watch for black-leg, and there’s this thing called “wooden tongue”
They get that, they cannot eat, and they’re all through!
And have you tried to buy these vaccines? My gosh, they cost a lot.
You total them all up, it sure ain’t cheap.
And there’s minerals, and feeders, and boluses and grain…
Why the cost of gettin’ rich is getting steep!
When you’re calving all the neighbor’s dogs, and coyotes come to call,
And then there’s wolves, cuz liberals had their way.
And of course there’s all the cougars and now they’re talkin’ grizzly bears!
Hell, they’re big enough to eat a calf a day!
I had to baler wire my squeeze chute, so I could work my cows,
You know, ear tags, pour-ons, preg test, all that stuff.
My best bull broke his “tool box,” now Baloney is his name!
Got some money by the pound, but not enough.
When you take your calves to auction and they run ’em through the ring,
And they sell ’em at a dollar ten a pound;
But it cost you a buck-fifty to get ’em up to weight,
why as a business model that just isn’t sound!
So I sold off all my cattle and turned back my pasture lease,
And got myself a new job driving truck.
Sold my horse and trailer, that slick-fork saddle too.
Just wrote the whole thing off to rotten luck.
Of course, you know, there’s lots of time, when you’re behind the wheel,
To think up different ways of gettin’ rich.
And getting all that money, shouldn’t be so difficult;
All I gotta do is find that niche!
Hey, anybody want to go partners on some Thoroughbred race horses?
© Duane Nelson
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission
Oregon poet and cowboy Duane Nelson comments, “I wrote this poem for all those folks that think that just because beef is $5.00/lb. at the store, ranchers should have an easy time making money in the cattle business. And for all the people who think cowboys just ride out in nice weather in pretty country and look at a bunch of good lookin’ cows…”
You’ll find Duane at Western events including the Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering February 15-17, 2019, in Ellensburg, Washington. He joins headliners Dave Stamey, Kristyn Harris, High Country Cowboys, Kathy Moss, Lynn Kopelke and and other featured performers Carter Junction, Panhandle Cowboys, Andy Bales, Paul Wilson, Rockin HW, Scott Glen Lambertsen, Lauralee Northcott, and Mark Seeley. Find more at ellensburgcowboygathering.com.
See more about Duane Nelson at CowboyPoetry.com.
Photo courtesy of Duane Nelson.
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