“Wash” Rollins, age 17

by Kent Rollins

He was covered all with sweat
As I tied my ole horse there in the shade
He said an ole horse that will stand still
For more than five minutes
Why I don’t think there’s ever been one made

He wore an old ragged pair of leggins
That had been cut off just below the knee
His old hands were hard and callused
And his arms were like two big limbs
Hanging off a giant oak tree

He said you reckon you could hold this old feller
He seems to have a lot a trouble standin’ still
Why I don’t know why I ain’t quit this
You’d think after 45 years
I had enough to get my fill

He let that ole horse’s leg down
And went to his anvil to shape a shoe
Awe I guess being a cowboy and doing this
Is about all I ever really knew

He said trimming & shoeing these old horses
Is sorta like dealing with life
Nobody said it was gonna be easy
But if you’ll do it with pride and honesty
You can get through the times of trouble and strife

With that shoe in hand and a mouth full of nails
He went back to resume his chore
Pick it up old feller he mumbled
We just like this one and one more

Well he nailed that shoe on pretty quick
He never missed his aim
He said sometimes in life
You’ve really got to struggle
If there’s gonna be any kind of gain

He said take that ole anvil there
That I use to shape a shoe
Sometimes we’ve gotta have a little adjusting
To keep us all straight and true

Now take these old horses some are pretty good
And some act awful ill
But it’s just like everyday livin,
Cause sometimes you just don’t get a fair deal

Well I watched him untie this old horse
His back still slightly bent
And in my mind I wondered about the many hours
Under an ole horse’s belly that he had really spent

His shirt by now was salted down
Soaked by the summer’s sun
It didn’t take him long a trimmin’
And my ole horse was done

Well I thanked him for his story
And paid him for his time
And as I was riding away
I could hear his ole anvil a ringing
Making a perfect chime

There ain’t a day that goes by
That I don’t think of him and his advice
I’d stopped by an seen him every week
Usually once or twice

But now his old anvil is silent
The horses ain’t lined up no more
His old chaps hang there empty
And his hammer lays still there on the floor

Sometimes I go to wondering
And it makes me feel sorta sad
Now I know the good Lord needs a farrier
And this makes me sorta proud
Because I know he got a good one
When he came and hired my Dad

© Kent Rollins
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

This poem closes out our week of shoeing poems. Kent Rollins also shared the photo above of his father, “Wash” Rollins at age 17.

Kent Rollins hardly needs an introduction these days. He’s a popular chuck wagon cook, poet, storyteller, and television personality. Along with Shannon Keller Rollins, he runs the Red River Ranch Chuck Wagon.

As his web site tells, “Kent Rollins is from a lost period in time and a dying state of mind, when life was simple and character was king. Kent was born and raised along the banks of the Red River near Hollis, Oklahoma. Growing up, and throughout his adulthood, Kent helped his father manage cow/calf operations in the area while also taking care of their own herd.”

Shannon and Kent take their restored 1876 Studebaker wagon to ranches for spring and fall gatherings and events. They have a YouTube channel with entertaining and instructive videos at; an information-packed site at (sign up for the newsletter); a regular column in Western Horseman; an acclaimed, top-selling cookbook, A Taste of Cowboy, and a brand new book, Faith Family & the Feast.

Right now you’ll find the book’s online release celebration and much more on their Facebook page. Cowboys & Indians magazine has a great article, with an interview and recipes.


Faith, Family & the Feast is your answer to what to do in these trying times. You’ll be entertained, edified, inspired, and well fed.

The beautifully designed book is full of advice for cooking and for living. The irresistible recipes are accompanied by stories, poems, inspirational quotes, and the stunning photography of Shannon Keller Rollins and Stormie Mosimann. Shannon even has an amusing “Okie to English” article, complete with glossary.

Recipes go from breakfast (“Burning Daylight”) to dessert (“The Last Gate,”) with appetizers, snacks, breads, soups, salads, side dishes, and “Pasture and Pond.” An entire chapter of grilling has tips, charts, and drool-worthy recipes from Fall-Apart Ribs to Chocolate-Peanut Butter Grilled Banana Splits. You can learn how to make your own jerky right in your kitchen’s oven, your own tortillas, create warm pretzel rolls, Scotch
eggs, “Reindeer Poop,” Poor Man’s Lobster, and so much more.

Near the end of the book is a poem, “The Last Sortin’,” that sums up the philosophy and way of life for this well-loved cook and exemplary human being. He’s definitely a man for these times.

Order signed copies at

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Andy and James Nelson shoeing.   June 25, 2006   Photo By Stuart Johnsonphoto by Stuart Johnson

by Andy Nelson

Yep, we are the guys, your mothers despise,
they do not care for what we are doing;
We just shoe horses, have no resources,
we’re the men of the Full Nelson Shoeing.

With work tools in hand, we travel the land,
poor bare footed foals we are pursuing;
We have forge to go, smell like DMSO,
we’re the men of the Full Nelson Shoeing.

Either donk or steed, we got what you need,
we will shoe anything that ain’t mooing;
Our old spines are wrecked, we’re a bit red-necked,
we’re the men of the Full Nelson Shoeing.

The shoers are twice, and so is the price,
and there is no sense sitting there stewing;
Want it done today, should have called (2 weeks ago) yesterday,
we’re the men of the Full Nelson Shoeing.

The price tag expands, with certain demands,
and if Buttercup needs a shampooing;
We do not do fluff, neither wax nor buff,
we’re the men of the Full Nelson Shoeing.

Bad habits may abide, were we reside,
but neither of us indulge in chewing;
We may impart, with an occasional… belch,
we’re the men of the Full Nelson Shoeing.

Our bellies may sag, and our butts may drag,
but you will never hear us boo-hooing;
Fresh Krispy Kremes, dance in our dreams,
we’re the men of the Full Nelson Shoeing.

Then it’s Mountain Dew, for me and for you,
it’s them with deep pockets we are wooing;
Some show horses here and a race track near,
for the men of the Full Nelson Shoeing.

Sweaty and dirty, never look purty,
a good batch of B.O. (body odor) we are brewing;
The smell we built, could make a flower wilt,
we’re the men of the Full Nelson Shoeing.

I’ve so many scabs, on my arms and abs,
it looks like I received some tattooing;
Your horses are fine, this blood is all mine,
and from the men of the Full Nelson Shoeing.

Proud to be farriers, not man-purse carriers,
we shoe horses for riding and not gluing;
We’re rugged and tough, we can’t get enough,
we’re the men of the Full Nelson Shoeing.

Now, if your horses kick, strike, bite or lick,
here’s some tips to avoid someone suing;
Just go to the mall and don’t even call,
the men of the Full Nelson Shoeing.

© Andy Nelson
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Andy Nelson, poet, humorist, farrier, radio show host, rodeo announcer, emcee, and more is one of those talents who can make you double over with laughter one minute and draw a tear the next. His new book, Culling the Herd: Poems That Made the Cut, collects many of his best, from those on the edge of the pearl-clutching precipice of political correctness to those written in pious reflection.


Speaking of political correctness, the book’s hilarious Disclaimer sets the tone. There’s everything from soup to nuts, with an emphasis on the nuts (human, equine, canine, feline, bovine, and porcine). There are favorites corralled in chapters, such as “Harvey’s Moon,” in the “Nailing on the Shoes” chapter; “Uncle Charlie and the Squeeze Chute of Death” from “You’ve Been a Friend to Me”; “Hogzilla” from “I’m Not Sure I buy That”; “Last of the Luman Cattle” from “No Ordinary Life”; “Only a Cowboy Knows” from “Opposites Attract”; and “The Old Crockett Spurs” from “All in the Family.”

A selection of Christmas poems includes the popular “Santa Must be a Shoer.” There’s an unexpected group of poems in a chapter called “End of the Day,” spiritual poems, some that are tributes, all from the heart of this poet known as one of the nicest guys in the cowboy poetry world.

In the book’s foreword, Baxter Black comments, “He reminds me a little of Bruce Kiskaddon, simple yet articulate, prolific, smooth and most of all…they’re funny. Waddie Mitchell’s blurb states, “Andy Nelson is noted as one of the best on stage cowboy poet entertainers in the game today, and deservedly so. He’s likable, funny, witty, interesting, knowledgeable and writes great material.”

Top cowboy cartoonist Ben Crane provides an action-packed cover and illustrations throughout. There are also many fitting photos from a variety of photographers.


Andy Nelson hosts the weekly syndicated Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio show with his brother Jim Nelson. Andy Nelson shared this picture of the duo, taken by award-winning Utah photographer Stuart Johnson.

Find Culling the Herd and more about Andy Nelson at his site,

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IN THE GLOAMING by John Dofflemyer

© 2019, Robbin Dofflemyer

by John Dofflemyer

Evening conversation dwells
on a thin cow, vaccine
protocol and the dog’s limp

without a hint of politics
beyond the barbed wire—
beyond this ground and grass.

We don’t want to know
what makes the news—
what makes the outside world

tick with greed and power.
Evening conversation dwells
on more important things.

© 2019, John Dofflemyer
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

This poem is included in fifth-generation California rancher John Dofflemyer’s  latest chapbook, Reckoning. The title poem sets the stage for the collection, of “great escapes that conserved my sanity.” The often deceptively spare pieces can give way to gratifying contemplation and profound truths.


In most of these fine poems, his world encompasses all that he can see each day in the southern Sierra Nevada foothills, from the proverbial grain of sand to the ridge tops. They are dispatches from a place far away from world chaos, but not always far enough.

His heroes include killdeer, his hopes “the sky that holds the storms” (“The Rock”) and silence “to listen to where it leads to what you know” (“It Is an Art”). He celebrates water, cattle, spring, and a celestial vision in which, looking toward a natural end, he expresses a desire “to be reconstituted among the grasses” and watching “among the remnants when the angels make their gather” (“Heavenly”).

But all is not pastoral richness. Underlying threats from the “real world” challenge this real world. A sign of our times, the menace lurks, something deeper even than the threat of drought or disease: the world’s inescapable perils that come increasingly close.

Encroaching urban spread is “like wildfires burning closer as convenient conflagrations that have erased landmarks where we hung our memories” (“Conflagration”). Greed and ambition may be leading to a world “that may go hungry with no landscapes left to feed their souls or flesh” (“The Last Gasp of Manifest Destiny’). There’s no lack of resistance, but a certain resignation or perhaps realization is found in a response to the madness, “Nothing I can change but feed more hay to hungry souls” (“Weather Report”).

Anyone interested in poetic craftsmanship and ranch life will be rewarded by John Dofflemyer’s writing and the opportunities to read, think, and be moved by his words. Find order information ($10) for “Reckoning” at

Versions of these poems have appeared in Dry Crik Journal; Perspectives from the Ranch,  a blog with near-daily poems, commentary, and photographs. You can subscribe to the blog, and poems are often posted also on Facebook. Robbin Dofflemyer most often contributes the photographs; the one accompanying this post is hers.

Poem excerpts are also included in Losing Ground, a 2019 documentary from the American Angus Association about “the impact of urban sprawl on American agriculture.”

John Dofflemyer’s innovative periodical, the Dry Crik Review of Contemporary Cowboy Poetry, published fourteen print volumes, 1991-1994, and an electronic double volume in 2005. It’s an invaluable archive of the poems and poets of the time. Find a comprehensive index at

John Dofflemyer is a frequent invited performer at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Find more about him and his books and publications at and

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by Carole Jarvis

If there’s any of you women out there,
…..who are newly a cowboy’s wife.
And are still experiencing the honeymoon phase,
… prepared, there’s an afterlife!

The time will soon come you’ll be asked to help out,
…..So you probably ought to know,
That when he hands you a ripe, with a cow on the end,
…..You’re expected to never let go!

No matter he’s roped the old girl from the ground,
…..then dallied a big cedar post,
While explainin’ to you how bad sick she is,
…..almost ready to “give up the ghost.”

She’s standin’ there, tongue out, legs all a’spraddle,
…..her eyes bulging out of her head,
As the cowboy moves in to give her a shot,
…..for after all, the cow’s about dead.

Not quite! Just as the needle is jabbed in her rump,
…..that hind leg lets go with a whack.
And the cowboy’s shin receives direct hit,
… I’m tryin’ to take up my slack.

For the cow has leaped forward, shakin’ her head,
…..throwin’ slobber in every direction.
And with only that cedar post between us,
…..I’ve decided to use some discretion.

I dodge to the side, lettin’ go of the rope,
…..which had just burned the palms of both hands.
And that wild-eyed old cow’s horns barely miss
…..where I was, ’cause that’s where she lands.

“Keep a’hold of the rope!” comes a yell from behind
…..but by then this alliance is through!
One “near death” experience a day is enough
…..and I did all I could possibly do.

Or, at least it seemed, from my point of view,
…..(which was sure not the view I’d have chose)
But I handled the incident logically—
…..and that’s where the problem arose.

Logic wasn’t a choice—I aborted the mission!
…..left my post, in the midst of a battle!
So ladies beware, the honeymoon’s over,
…..when you and the cowboy work cattle.

© 2019, Carole Jarvis
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Award-winning poet Carole Jarvis met her cowboy while working in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and they were married for over 50 years before his death in 2010. She tells in her bio at

We’ve lived and cowboyed in Wyoming, Oregon and Arizona, and there’s been a lot of hard work, dusty trails, blisters, sunburns and broken bones along the way, but it’s the life I chose and the one Dan, my husband chose, and we wouldn’t trade it for any other.

“Mission Impossible” is included in Facing West: Voices of Western Women, Volume Two (2019). The book includes poems and stories from over 50 Western women, including Deanna Dickinson McCall, Amy Hale Steiger, Jessica Hedges, Andrea Waitley and daughter Abi McWhorter Reynolds, Betty McCarthy, Dee Strickland Johnson (“Buckshot Dot”), and many others. Facing West was compiled by Sally Bates, who is pictured on the cover in a photo by Mary Abbott.


With proceeds from the first volume, Natalie G’Schwind was presented with the 2019 Facing West, Roni Harper Memorial Scholarship. Find more about both volumes of Facing West and other publications from Arizona Cowboy Connection at

Find more about Carole Jarvis at

The photograph is courtesy of Carole Jarvis from the Jarvis Ranch.

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“J IS FOR JACKALOPE” by Teal Blake


by Teal Blake

Not long ago out in the dust and the sage, a story I’ll tell written down on this page. A critter so wild and free and the little boy who named him–Samuel C.B.

Now, Samuel C.B. was a blond-headed boy. He wore chaps on his legs and red boots on his feet. He’d rope and tie whatever he’d meet. He tied all the barn cats and dogs on the ranch, and even the chickens when he had the chance…

…from the beginning of J is for Jackalope, by Teal Blake, used with permission

There is so much to love about “J is for Jackalope” from Cowboy Artists of America artist Teal Blake. It’s a cowboy-poetry-in-motion tale full of adventure, heart, humor, and fabulous art.

Respected publisher and writer Bill Reynolds comments in his Introduction, “This book is an artful depiction of the dreams and wishes of a young cowboy, and in a sense, of all those that set out in life simply trying to succeed in the things they love to do.”

Reynolds also hints at how Samuel C.B. got his name: Teal Blake’s great grandfather, Samuel Coke Blake, was one the the American Quarter Horse’s founding breeders.

Young cowboy Sam sets out to find a jackalope, which some might think is a mythical creature. Sam will change minds. The writing and Sam take off on a wild ride when he ropes his jackalope, which he eventually turns, and finds, “He was all about kick and all about feel.” Their adventures together begin and … well, you’ll want to read it for yourself.

Teal Blake told us the book came about from the stories he would spin for his young son. Though the genius of the art and story is solely that of Teal Blake, the book was also made possible by a community of people who believed in the concept and donated to a greatly successful Kickstarter campaign. See the original delightful Kickstarter video and find more about the book’s creation here.

It is rare that a book of such careful quality, authenticity, content, and design is produced. This enduring volume should delight readers of all ages for generations.

Find more about Teal Blake and more about the book and order information at Also find him at

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ABOVE AND BEYOND, by Jarle Kvale

cowboythrown“Heavily thrown,” by Erwin E. Smith (1886-1947), c. 1907


The boys and me were kinda miffed
to hear the boss man say,
he’s bringin’ in some buster
just to break that bald-faced bay.

It sorta bruised our feelings,
tho, in fact, we’d all been tossed;
that bay’s sure got our number –
we’d all tried, and we’d all lost.

Accordin’ to the boss,
I guess we’re all a sorry lot –
this kid’s above and way beyond
the meager skills we’ve got.

We gathered round the pen
that day that cowboy swaggered in;
he strolled just like a peacock,
smirked a denigratin’ grin.

He claimed, “There’s not a horse around
that’s ever bucked me off” –
the final words we heard from him
‘fore he was sent aloft.

The kid went soaring through the air
and bid that bay adieu –
it’s then we all agreed
the boss’ words were ringin’ true.

Above that horse’s head he flew –
beyond the round pen’s rail –
we arched our necks in pleasure
as we watched his skills set sail.

Above the record altitude
that Frank had set last fall;
beyond the longest distance
that my mem’ry could recall.

His flight was acrobatic –
did a flip, then added two –
I scored him perfect tens,
like he’s another Mary Lou.

But flights have ways of ending,
due to gravitation’s tug –
his landing wasn’t pretty,
like a windshield meets a bug.

Was 30 minutes later,
when that cowboy came around;
untangled legs and caught his breath,
rose slowly from the ground.

Humility’s a virtue
that some folks have never learned –
but spoutin’ off and talkin’ big
is bound to get you burned.

That cowboy’s lost his swagger,
and the boss man’s eatin’ crow –
above and way beyond’s a phrase
he’d just as soon let go.

That bay? Well, he’s still buckin’ –
and still provin’ us his worth –
each time we meet a braggart
who needs bringin’ back to earth.

© 2019, Jarle Kvale
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Jarle Kvale, North Dakota horseman, radio broadcaster, and host of  the cowboy poetry and Western music Back at the Ranch radio show includes “Above and Beyond” in his new book, Horses, Dogs (& Lingerie).

Find Jarle Kvale at Colorado’s 31st annual Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering, October 3rd – 7th, 2019. Evening performers include Trinity Seely, Ross Knox, Brooke Turner, Margaret Wilhelm, Greg Hager, Bill Lowman, and Mary Kaye. Daytime performers include Jarle Kvale, Kathy Moss, Paul Larson, Almeda Bradshaw, Tom Swearingen, Thatch Elmer, Ol’ Jim Cathey, Nolan King, Emelia Knaphus, Chris Isaacs, Two Bit Pete, Allora Leonard, Carol Markstrom, Dan McCorison, Slim McWilliams, Dave Munsick, Sam Noble, Jonathan Odermann, Don Schauda, The Sawyer Family, Lindy Simmons, Kacey and Jenna Thunborg, Cora Rose Wood, and Laurie Wood.

The following week, October 10-13, 2019 he’ll be at the 28th annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days in Valentine.  Featured performers include Wylie & the Wild West, Jarle Kvale, Dave Munsick, Sky Shivers, and the High Country Cowboys.


Jarle Kvale’s new book, Horses, Dogs, (& Lingerie) is described, “Jarle takes his experiences with horses, rodeo, and North Dakota rural living and turns them into humorous verse. He’s been writing cowboy poetry for over 25 years, sharing his stories with friends and family over trail ride campfires, at various community events, and at cowboy poetry gatherings throughout the country.”

Praise for the book includes ranch hand, poet and picker D.W. Groethe’s comment, “…His poetry has the kind of meter and rhyme that defines traditional cowboy poetry, along with the humor it takes to keep your attention going full out. Writing well, in this style, is difficult at best, and he’s got it down….”

Horses, Dogs, (& Lingerie) is available for $15 postpaid from Jarle Kvale,  PO Box 488 Dunseith ND 58329.

Jarle Kvale also has a recent CD, Custom Made.

Find more of Jarle Kvale’s poetry and more about him at and tune in to the current and past Back at the Ranch radio shows.

photo of Jarle Kvale by Kevin Martini-Fuller

The c. 1907 photograph by Erwin E. Smith (1886-1947) at the top of the page is titled “Heavily thrown.” It is further described, “Photograph shows a cowboy on the ground after being thrown from his mount and other cowboys on horseback coming to his aid, on the Turkey Track Ranch in Texas.” It is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.

Find a gallery of Erwin E. Smith’s works at the Amon Carter Museum.

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WAR BRIDLE by Maria Lisa Eastman


by Maria Lisa Eastman

I used to be a girl who rode bucking horses.
Not in a rodeo or anything glamorous,
just regular horses who bucked—
horses owned by people
who didn’t want them to buck.

Those horses did not scare me.

When they bucked, I sat down deep,
slapped my long reins on their flanks, made them run.
They ran fast and for a long time.
I didn’t let them stop.
If they slowed, I slapped my reins again
so they picked up their pace.

After some long miles, I’d let them slow—
they would draw in great
shuddering breaths,
lifting my legs off their ribs.
Then, all at once, they’d let go,
but it wasn’t anything they did
or anything you could see.
When it happened,
I could feel it run clean, clear
like a mountain stream through us both.
I didn’t question why they bucked.
Likely they all had good reasons.
I wasn’t thoughtful like I am now but
I wasn’t unfeeling or unkind—
I just took it plain, they bucked,
my job was to get them to stop.

Not by being good at riding bucking horses,
because I was never any good at that.
What I was pretty good at was
staying on a running horse,
and that’s what I figured they needed to do.


When I asked them to run,
I was one-hundred-percent sincere.
I knew the right thing was to go somewhere with them,
instead of nowhere against them.
I was sure of it.
Those horses believed in me.

When I got a little older, I changed.

I don’t know just what it was that changed in me.
That’s what I’m here trying to work out.
What I do know is I quit asking them to run.
I got stuck in their fear, made it my own.
When those horses bucked,
I would get scared,
I would get mad—
I was at war with anything that crossed my path.

And nobody knows that better than a horse.

© 2018, Maria Lisa Eastman
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

The official bio of Maria Lisa Eastman, award-winning poet and frequent invited performer to the Western Folkife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, tells, “Wyoming rancher Maria Lisa Eastman hails from the village of Hyattville, Wyoming, population 100. She and her husband operate the Oxbow Ranch, a sometimes-for-profit hay and cattle outfit, and Rainhorse Equine Assisted Services, a verifiable non-profit, where unfortunate horses are rehabilitated to help people who have had troubles themselves.”

This poem is included in her new book, Regarding the Others. She comments, “This is an auto-biographical poem, looking back to a time when I was able to help out a couple of difficult horses. Then I wasn’t able to anymore. I didn’t know it then, but my heart had fallen out of harmony, and I’d stopped giving 100%. It wasn’t until 20 years later or so that I began to wonder what had happened and why. In the process of looking into myself, I wrote this poem.

See our feature about Maria Lisa Eastman, which includes more of her poetry (“How to Tell a Coyote to Go Away” and “Bad Business”).


Of her new book, Paul Zarzyski writes, “In her first book of poetry, aptly titled Regarding the Others, Maria Lisa Eastman, by amplifying the choirs of venerable voices of “the others,” magnifies the intrinsic presence of those fellow beings defining our hallowed West—paramount of whom, the horse…” Past Wyoming Poet Laureate, Wyoming rancher Patricia Frolander describes the book as, “Deliciously fresh and deeply caring poems from a poet who understands the power of relationship.”

The cover of Regarding the Others is by celebrated artist Theodore Waddell.

Find the book at Amazon and for $15 postpaid from Maria Lisa Eastman, P.O. Box 55, Hyattville, WY 82428.

This photo is courtesy of Maria Lisa Eastman.

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