by Bruce Kiskaddon
The old time winter past’er was a good idee some how,
It worked a whole lot faster than the way they do it now.
Jest look the feed they have to haul. It really don’t make sense.
Them days one man could handle all they put inside the fence.
This work of feedin’ gits my goat. It worries me a lot.
Too cold to go without a coat, and with it you’re too hot.
You git the snow pushed off the stack and use a big hay knife.
You’re workin’ fit to break your back. No way to spend your life.
Of course on winter mornin’s when you had to chop the ice,
And ride a dozen miles of fence, it wasn’t jest so nice.
But then it had this new way beat, as near as I recall.
You bundled up your ears and feet and didn’t mind aytall.
We hear a lot of “Post War” talk. So when this scrap is through,
I’m hopin’ they will winter stock the way they used to do.
If once they git the world streamlined, I recokon mebbyso,
They will winter cows in past’ers like they used to years ago.
…by Bruce Kiskaddon, 1946
This poem appeared in the Los Angeles Union Stock Yards calendar 74 years ago.
Wheaton Hall Brewer wrote, in his introduction to Bruce Kiskaddon’s 1835 book, Western Poems, “…As the years roll on and history appreciates the folk-lore of the plains and ranges, these poems by a real cowboy will take on a deeper significance and mightier stature. When Bruce turns his pony into the Last Corral—long years from now, we all hope—he need feel no surprise if he hears his songs sung by the celestial cowboys as their tireless ponies thunder over the heavenly ranges, bringing in the dogies for branding at the Eternal Corrals. For poetry will never die.”
Find many more poems and more about Kiskaddon in features at cowboypoetry.com. Earlier this year we released a 3-cd collection, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon.
This 1943 photograph by John Collier, Jr., (1913-1992) is titled “Moreno Valley, Colfax County, New Mexico. Winter feeding on the Mutz ranch.” It is from The Library of Congress Farm Services Administration collection.
Collier had learning disabilities and hearing loss from a car accident when he was a young boy. He spent time learning from painter Maynard Dixon. Dixon was married to noted photographer Dorothea Lange at the time and she may have helped him get work as a photographer at the Farm Services Administration, which documented American life
during the Great Depression. He became an anthropologist and his book, “Visual Anthropology: Photography as a Research Method” is still in use. Find a film about him at vimeo.com/ondemand/johncollier.
(This poem and photograph are in the public domain.)