“This album represents four of the finest poets to ever come out of cowboy culture. We are not likely to see their kind again and the world should be grateful to for preserving their voices.”   Andy Hedges, songster and host of COWBOY CROSSROADS

“ CDs have always been good, but this one is the best by far!”  Chris Issacs, cowboy, packer, and poet

Praise for previous CD volumes:

“…The annual anthology takes listeners on an oral excursion to places throughout the West, introducing them to colorful cowboy characters, explaining their connection to the land, and telling their tales of tough times and the rewards they receive from living the Western lifestyle…”   Jennifer Denison, Senior Editor, Western Horseman

“The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry’s annual anthologies are creating a valuable, high quality and thoroughly enjoyable resource for everyone…” Steve Green, Archivist, Western Folklife Center

“…without peer…intelligently produced… I equate them to one of those Ken Burns specials, like his Civil War, Jazz, or Baseball….the best of the best.” Rick Huff, Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews

“For those of us who love cowboy poetry, this is perhaps the best anthology we’ve yet heard.”  Cowboy Magazine

           larry-mcwhorter150 jballen150 Sunny Hancock rayowens150
photographs by Kevin Martini-Fuller

The MASTERS CD includes tracks from a “golden age” of Cowboy Poetry. From the introduction, delivered by Jay Snider:

We can look back at the turn of this century and see a golden age for cowboy poetry.  Four outstanding poets of that time who left this world too soon were Larry McWhorter, J.B. Allen, Sunny Hancock, and Ray Owens. They set standards toward which all poets and reciters can strive. Among them were fine cowboys, fine writers, and fine men.  This compilation includes recorded poems, “live” performances, and their recitations of other masters’ works (Buck Ramsey, S. Omar Barker, and Henry Herbert Knibbs). On these tracks, you’ll hear the love of their cowboy life and sometimes you’ll hear their love and respect for each other. To quote Ray Owens, a lifelong student of poetry and the West, all four have left “tracks that won’t blow out.”


The Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week celebration—recognized by unanimous U.S. Senate resolution—takes place each April during National Poetry Month. Each year, a compilation CD and the celebration’s poster (by respected cowboy artist Tyler Crow in 2017) have been offered to libraries in the Center’s Rural Library Program. The outreach program is part of the Center’s commitment to serve rural communities and to preserve and promote our Western heritage.

The MASTERS CD is dedicated to all those who proudly carry on the ranching tradition.



The Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week celebration—recognized by unanimous U.S. Senate resolution—is held each April during National Poetry Month. Each year, a compilation CD and the celebration’s poster—by Tyler Crow in 2017; by Gary Morton in 2016; by Don Dane in 2015; by Jason Rich in 2014; Shawn Cameron in 2013; by R.S. Riddick in 2012, Duward Campbell in 2011, Bill Owen in 2010, Bob Coronato in 2009, William Matthews in 2008, Tim Cox in 2007, and Joelle Smith in 2006 —are offered to libraries in the Center’s Rural Library Project. The outreach program is a part of the Center’s commitment to serve rural communities and to preserve and promote our Western heritage.

The annual CD is a premium for our supporters and also available for purchase. Find information about past years’ CDs here at

We need your support to continue and expand these programs. Read here about how you can be a part of it all.



Track list and sources
About the cover and photos 
Order information  buynow

We’re on a (rare) break May 4-25.  Orders will be delayed.


Introduction by Jay Snider


WAITIN’ ON THE DRIVE from The Most Requested Poetry of Larry McWhorter (2001)
BLACK DRAUGHT from The Most Requested Poetry of Larry McWhorter (2001)
THE RED COW from The Poetry of Larry McWhorter (2010)
ADVICE TO THE TRAVELER recorded live at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (1993)
WHERE THE PONIES COME TO DRINK by Henry Herbert Knibbs (1874-1945) from The Open Gate (1998)


THE HORSE TRADE recorded live at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (2001)
A BEAR TALE recorded live at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (2000)
THE HIGH-STEPPIN’ KIND recorded live at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (1997)
THE COWBOY’S HEAVEN by S. Omar Barker (1894-1985) recorded live at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (2003)

RAY OWENS 1934-2007

COLOR BLIND recorded live at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (2006)
TRACKS THAT WON’T BLOW OUT recorded live at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (2006)
THE SADDLE HIS GRANDDADDY RODE recorded live at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (2006)
A RARE TREAT by J.B. ALLEN (1938-2005), recorded live at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (2006)

J.B. ALLEN  1938-2005

THE MEDICINE KEEPERS from The Medicine Keepers (1998)
REASONS FOR STAYIN’ from The Medicine Keepers (1998)
KINDRED SPIRITS recorded live at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (1996)
ANTHEM by Buck Ramsey (1938-1998) from J.B. Allen Classics (2005)



Special thanks to the Western Folklife Center, which made all of the live recordings possible.

Thanks to Steve Green; David Roche; Jay Snider; Kevin Martini-Fuller; Verna Owens; Margaret Allen; Andrea Waitley; Jeffrey Hancock; Jean Prescott; Bette Ramsey; the estate of S. Omar Barker; Jerry Brooks; Gail Steiger; the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering; Chris Kirby; and Andy Nelson, engineer and co-producer (with Margo Metegrano).

Produced by the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry with generous funding support from Laura and Edmund Wattis Littlefield Jr.; the Margaret T. Morris Foundation; and sustaining donors.


The CD cover image is a design by Chris Kirby from a photograph, “Cowhands singing after day’s work. Quarter Circle ‘U’ Ranch roundup. Big Horn County, Montana,” 1939  by Arthur Rothstein (1915-1985); The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USF34- 027824-D.

Photographs of Larry McWhorter, J.B. Allen, Sunny Hancock, and Ray Owens are by Kevin Martini-Fuller, who has photographed participants of the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering for over three decades. Find more at his web site.


We’re on a (rare) break May 4-25.  Orders will be delayed.

The MASTERS CD will is available for $20 postpaid. Order with a credit card at Paypal or by mail:, Box 1107, Lexington, VA 24450.


COWBOY BRAG TALK (anonymous)




I was born full growed
with nine rows of jaw teeth
and holes bored for more.
There was spurs on my feet
and a rawhide quirt in my hand,
and when they opens the chute
I come out a-riding a panther
and a-roping the long-horned whales.
I’ve rode everything with hair on it…
and I’ve rode a few things
that was too rough to grow any hair.

I’ve rode bull moose on the prod,
she grizzlies and long bolts of lightning.
Mountain lions are my playmates,
and when I feels cold and lonesome,
I sleeps in a den of rattlesnakes ‘
cause they always makes me nice and warm.

To keep alive
I eat stick dynamite and cactus.
The Grand Canyon
ain’t nothin’ but my bean hole.
When I get thirsty
I drink cyanide cut with alkali.
When I go to sleep
I pillow my head on the Big Horn,
I lay my boots
in Colorada and my hat in Montana.
I can stretch out my arms clean out
from the Crazy Woman Folk plumb over
to the Upper Grey Bull River.
My bed tarp covers half of Texas
and all of old Mexico.

But there’s one thing
for sure and certain,
and if you boys wants to know,
I’ll tell you that
I’m still a long way short
of being the daddy of ’em all…
’cause he’s full growed,
and as any man that really knows can see
—well, boys, I ain’t nothing but a young ‘un.


You may have heard this traditional “cowboy brag” before, but you have never heard a delivery as convincing as that by Andy Hedges, an extraordinary interpreter of cowboy poetry and music. His talents are generously displayed in his brand new album, Cowboy Recitations.

We asked Andy Hedges about his inspiration for the collection, his first poetry album in 15 years, and he told us, “Cowboy Recitations is a project that has been brewing for a long time. Although I’ve been playing music a lot for the last several years, my first love is for the spoken word. The poems on this album are ones that have stuck with me over the years – some classic, some obscure, some old, some new. All are written by people that I admire. It’s a joy to share them.”

In introducing the project, respected reciter Randy Rieman calls Andy Hedges one of the “finest practitioners” of the traditions of cowboy culture, with “an intuitive intelligence for the art form that few possess,” and “authentic voice,” and claims that “none take the stage with more humility and integrity.” Agreed.

The impeccable track list offers particular standouts such as the lesser-heard “The Rodeo Hand” by Peter La Farge; a masterful handling of Larry McWhorter’s “The Red Cow”; and a reverential recitation of Joel Nelson’s “On Finding Someone.” Two selections, Curley Fletcher’s “The Pot Wrassler” and D.J. O’Malley’s “The D-2 Horse Wrangler” are presented in a fine old traditional acapella style. Other familiar classic poets’ works include poems by S. Omar Barker, Bruce Kiskaddon, and Charles Badger Clark. Outstanding poems by modern masters Buck Ramsey and Andy Wilkinson are included. And, there’s more.

Every reciter of cowboy poetry can learn much from this new release, and it belongs in the collection of every fan of the genre.

Find more about Andy Hedges at Another gift he gives to those who care about cowboy poetry and music traditions is his new “Cowboy Crossroads” podcast, with informative and enlightening interviews with the likes of Waddie Mitchell, Michael Martin Murphey, and Ross Knox, just for starters.

Andy Hedges is headed to the Western Folklife Center’s 33rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 30-February 4, 2017), where he is involved in some of the top events.

The complete lineup includes Amy Hale Auker – Prescott, AZ; Mike Beck – Monterey, CA; Luke Bell – Cody, WY; Jerry Brooks – Sevier, UT; Cowboy Celtic -Turner Valley, Alberta, Canada; Doris Daley – Black Diamond, Alberta, Canada; John Dofflemyer – Lemon Cove, CA; Carolyn Dufurrena – Winnemucca, NV; Maria Lisa Eastman – Hyattville, WY; Don Edwards – Hico, TX; Ramblin’ Jack Elliott – Marshall, CA; Dom Flemons & Brian Farrow – Hillsborough, NC; Patricia Frolander – Sundance, WY; DW Groethe – Bainville, MT; Kristyn Harris – McKinney, TX; Andy Hedges – Lubbock, TX; Brenn Hill – Hooper, UT
Teresa Jordan – Virgin, UT; Ross Knox – Midpines, CA;Jarle Kvale – Dunseith, ND; Daron Little – Encampment, WY; Corb Lund – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Doug Moreland & the Flying Armadillos – Manchaca, TX; Joel Nelson – Alpine, TX; Rodney Nelson – Almont, ND; Shadd Piehl – Mandan, ND; Vess Quinlan – Florence, CO; Henry Real Bird – Garryowen, MT; Brigid Reedy – Boulder, MT; Randy Rieman – Dillon, MT; Kent Rollins – Hollis, OK; Jack Sammon – Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Australia; Martha Scanlan & Jon Neufeld – Birney, MT; Trinity Seely – Cascade, MT; Sean Sexton – Vero Beach, FL; Sourdough Slim & Robert Armstrong – Paradise, CA; R.P. Smith – Broken Bow, NE; Dave Stamey – Orange Cove, CA; Gail Steiger – Prescott, AZ; Rod Taylor – Cimarron, NM; Ian Tyson – Longview, Alberta, Canada; Keith Ward – Vilas, NC; Andy Wilkinson – Lubbock, TX; and Paul Zarzyski – Great Falls, MT.


101 WAYS TO LOSE A CALF by Linda Nadon


by Linda Nadon

There’s a hundred ways to lose a calf, reckon we’ve all heard that before
But, when it comes to losin’ a calf, I can tell you ‘bout one more

It was calvin’ time, water was runnin’ and the sun was shinin’ bright
I headed out to check the cows, to make sure everything was alright

A little Red Angus cow had calved and she was lookin’ after her little guy
As I walked up, a ripple, in a bull hole behind her, caught my eye

I really couldn’t believe it ‘cause only his nostrils was stickin’ out
I reached in and grabbed a-hold, it was a new born calf, no doubt

I don’t know how long he was in there, I’ve no idea how he’d fallen in
I dragged him over to the little cow and she claimed him, reckon he was her twin

Momma cow was working him over good, I figured he’d soon get up and suck
It was warm and sunny, he’d be dry in no time, I couldn’t believe our luck!

I reckon we was ’bout half done calvin’ these twins would put us up by one
And momma cow definitely wanted them both, we was havin’ a real good run

Didn’t look like they needed my help at all, decided I might as well go
I thought, I’ll let “Mother Nature” do her thing I’ll come back in an hour or so

Ya see, I’ve been known to interfere, perhaps, on occasion, more than I should
But this time, I figured no help was required, things was going too good

When I returned, I couldn’t believe it that calf was stone, cold dead
He had suffocated, his brother had stumbled over and was laying on his head

Now a dozen “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s” went racing thru’ my head that day
And now you’ve heard My story of how we lost a calf the 101th way

© 2016, Linda Nadon
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s permission.


Saskatchewan rancher Linda Nadon also sent these photos of twins, and told us, “This is a true story, unfortunately, it doesn’t have a happy ending. It does provide an accurate description of calving on the ranch. As a rancher, you never know when to interfere and when to leave things be. In this situation, I made the wrong call. I guess that’s ranching.

Linda Nadon has a recent CD, North of 54 Degrees.


It is described:

North of 54 is Linda’s debut CD which includes a sample of her own cowboy poetry. Linda and her husband, who she refers to as “my Larry,” raise beef cattle near Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada (which is located on the 54th parallel). Her poems are depictions of her many, and often humorous, experiences on the ranch. The critters and calamities associated with everyday life on the N7 Ranch provide a never-ending supply of poetry material. The CD also features songs performed by Linda and her children, Lacey and Landon. Her brother and producer, recording artist Rocky Lakner, also added musical accompaniment and her favorite song which he wrote and recorded some years ago. CD’s can be ordered directly from Linda at for $15.00 pp.

Find Rick Huff’s review here  where he comments, “I don’t recall coming away from hearing a CD by a poet who focuses on family ranching with more of a clear-cut sense of the family than this one provides…”

Find more about Linda Nadon at

THE BUYER’S TYPE by Floyd Beard


by Floyd Beard

I’m standing here pushing up a steer,
as I load the truck today.
Looks thick and fat from where I’m at,
as I send him on his way.

Yell out your bid, or wave your lid
as you catch the auctioneer’s cry.
Run up his price, you know he’s nice,
let ‘em know you want to buy!

You hope each spring that your cow’ll bring,
a calf of the buyers’ type.
So that next fall at the auctioneer ball,
they’ll all want to take a swipe.

I ain’t for gore but a bidder’s war,
‘tween buyers is mighty fine.
When they’ll bid once more, o’er the buyer next door,
and the calves they’re wantin’s mine.

Then I go inside and I strut with pride,
as I settle at the cashier’s till.
Weight tickets come down and they’re “times’ed” per pound,
and the gold my pockets fill.

What…I take the shrink? Is that fair ya’ think?
The commission is then pulled out!
And a feed cost’s there for two days of care,
boy that yardage is kinda’ stout.

Well they whittled my check, but then what the heck,
better get what I got to the bank.
Get your grubby mitts off my money you nits,
my ship came in and purt near sank.

Take out pasture cost and the ones I lost,
I’m barely gonna cover my bills.
Still owe the vet charge, and the feed bill’s large,
now I’m cuttin’ out most of my thrills.

Well the trucker’s paid and the mortgage made,
and repair bills paid at the shop.
Fuel’s laid in, mill’s pumping again,
propane sure took a big hop.

Well I’ll fix the roof next year and maybe see clear,
to get by on the tires I’ve got.
And I’ll burn more wood, and maybe I could,
patch the tank where it’s got the rot.

I’ll watch what I buy and if prices stay high,
I’ll get by for another year.
I’ll just be brave, use the heifers I save,
and try to not choke on fear.

If I squeeze real tight, I’ll make it alright,
and there ain’t no use to gripe.
But if I got any pull, I pray that ol’ bull,
will throw calves of the buyers’ type

© 2014, Floyd Beard, used with permission

This poem appears on popular Colorado rancher and poet Floyd Beard’s recent CD, Short Grass Country. The album includes original poems and recitations of classic poems by Luther Lawhon, E.A. Brininstool, Sunny Hancock, and Banjo Paterson. It’s all tied together with fine music by Butch Hause.

Floyd Beard comments on “Buyer’s Type” in the liner notes, “Cattlemen work in a year-long cycle. This poem marks the end of one cycle and beginning of the next. It also points out that ranches love their calves to sell high, but it is sure not all profit.”

Find Rick Huff’s review here, where he calls Short Grass Country a “collection of top-drawer cowboy thoughts and delivery.”

Find more about Floyd Beard at; at his web site; and on Facebook.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but for other uses, please request permission.)