THE LAST OF THE LUMAN CATTLE
by Andy Nelson
The morning weather matches my demeanor,
Somewhat cloudy and overcast;
I am rattling down the old homestead lane,
For what is sure to be my last.
I do not remember the number of times,
I traveled this road in my youth;
But to say that this ranch is a part of my life,
Sure wouldn’t be stretching the truth.
All the songs mention that the seasons will change,
Then spring will arrive and unpack;
But unlike the dead leaves that tumble from trees,
This outfit will never grow back.
A century and a quarter of hard work,
Now divided goes up for sale;
I am not pointing fingers nor casting stones,
But for me, it’s just the last nail.
I swallow a lump and remember ol’ Buck,
The mount that was cut out for me;
An old cow moose put us both in the river,
She jumped us from out of the trees.
The pole gate that I built still swings back and forth,
Though it looks a little worse for wear;
It creaks out some stories, that now are all gone,
But none the less, it is still there.
I unload big Jed, who now is my go-to,
And make one last circle with him;
We ride the cottonwoods and gather the pairs,
And bring them down off of the rim.
It’s almost like they know this is the end,
Through the last gate, then to the pen;
They make one last break, but we get them turned in,
Acquiescing the will of men.
Sorting cows from calves, then the heifers from steers,
Ready to load young and old ones;
In defiance, one wild cow clears the top rail,
I can’t help but smile as she runs.
But as the stock trucks back to the loading chute,
Reality pierces my heart;
A rumbling of hooves as the trailer door slams,
The oration tears me apart.
I follow horseback as the trucks drive away,
This is the end of a battle;
The vestige and lore of the old Luman ranch,
Left with the last of the cattle.
© 2018, Andy Nelson, used with permission
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission
Pinedale, Wyoming’s Andy Nelson is a second-generation farrier, cowboy poet, emcee, humorist, rodeo announcer, and co-host (with his brother Jim) of the popular syndicated Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio show.
Andy shared this poem and photo and told us, “I worked this ranch the summer of ’84. The widow and her son that I worked for are long gone and the ranch has been sold. It is a melancholy offering and was a hard one to write. The pole gate I talk about can be seen in the pic of us following the trucks out of the yard.”
Find Andy later this week at the Heber Valley Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering (Heber City, Utah, October 24-28).
He will be joining poets Waddie Mitchell, Randy Rieman, Jeff Carson, Doris Daley, Jo Kirkwood, and Al Doc Mehl and musicians John Anderson, Suzy Bogguss, Bar J Wranglers, Max T. Barnes, Dave Stamey, Hot Club of Cowtown, Brenn Hill, Jack Hannah, Ed Peekeekoot, Ryan Fritz, Trinity Seely, Charley Jenkins Band, Dyer Highway, High Country Cowboys, Gary McMahan, Stacy Despain, Nancy Elliott, Randy Huston, Stewart MacDougall, Many Strings, Kenny Hall, Kristen J. Lloyd, In Cahoots, and the Heber Valley Orchestra.
Andy Nelson’s latest CD is Uncle Charlie and the Squeeze Chute of Death. Find more about it in a brief review along with a poem from the CD in a recent post on this blog.
Find Andy Nelson’s complete schedule, CDs and books, and more at cowpokepoet.com.
(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)