SHE SADDLES HER OWN HORSE by Marleen Bussma

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SHE SADDLES HER OWN HORSE
by Marleen Bussma

It’s forty miles from nowhere as the night wind sighs and sings.
It teases the thermometer that wavers, wilts, then wrings
all heat from sky and land that shivers, though it’s springtime’s start.
Now twenty-two below, the moon shines with just half a heart.

Cold Levis on the chair slip over long-johns warm from bed.
Kate staggers as she stumbles to get dressed and clear her head.
It’s 3:00 A.M. and time to check the calving shed’s penned herd.
She fights the wind through darkness. She’s the only thing that’s stirred.

Tonight she is the mid-wife with a flashlight’s extra eye.
It flicks across the red backs in the stalls they occupy.
Kate hears the heavy panting of a heifer hard at work.
She’s lying in the straw. Each quiver has become a jerk.

Kate’s witnessed birth a hundred times, a ranching genesis.
She cherishes the part she plays and doesn’t think of this
as business, but a way of life. She thrives on the demands,
the rhythm of the seasons, and hard work done with her hands.

The heifer bellows. Eyes are pools of panic, angst, and pain.
She thrashes with her head, casts spools of drool out to complain.
Two tiny cloven hooves appear and then a little nose.
A wet slick body slips out in the afterbirth that flows.

The heifer looks behind her with eyes wide in great surprise.
Kate grabs a gunny sack to briskly rub and scrutinize
this wet, dependent critter that begins to breathe and move.
Kate places it near mother’s nose and hopes she will approve.

The cow lows softly, gives a lick, then rises to her feet.
With hind legs first, the recent mother slowly stands to greet
and nuzzle, lick and nudge, all part of life’s age-old routine.
A wash-rag tongue caresses, laps, until the newborn’s clean.

As sturdy as a worn-out shoe, four fickle feet aspire
to get a grip then stand up stiff and firm, just like barbed-wire.
The jelly-legs give out and rest a minute on the ground.
He tries again and takes some steps to mother where he’s found

an udder filled with what he needs, an in-house drink buffet.
He gives a nose-bump, starts to suck, and lunch is on its way.
The sky is growing light and pushes darkness to the west.
Fatigue is etched around Kate’s eyes and shows that she needs rest.

She’s wearing blobs of cow-crud, splattered with mysterious spots,
decides to take a breather in the cow-shed where she squats.
Her eyes are closed. Her head leans forward with Mixmaster hair.
She’s dirty, rank, and smelly, but she’s sure her horse won’t care.

This ranch has been her life and she knows how to make it run.
A ride across the hills is gold, like dancing in the sun.
Kate shuns the busyness of town; just give her life that’s plain.
She’ll take this young calf’s romping and a summer’s inch of rain.

© 2017, Marleen Bussma
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

 
Marleen Bussma has a new CD, Saddle Up for Cowboy Poetry, which includes this poem.

Marleen comments, “Much has been written about men on the ranch. Since the days of homesteading, women in the west have rolled up their sleeves to carve out a life on the land. Some have worked beside their husbands, while others have been on their own. The subject of this poem is a composite of all the women who have ridden a horse while doing their daily chores.”

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About Marleen:

Marleen grew up on a farm in North Dakota.  Her adult life has taken her away from those daily chores, but her heart still lies in the land of the meadowlark.  She has put together many verses on the plight of the women of the west from frontier days to modern farm and ranch times.  She wants to be that cowboy coming into camp for a fresh horse.  She understands the struggle to deal with Mother Nature.  She feels at home where her stories take place.

You can find out more about Marleen, her new CD, Saddle Up for Cowboy Poetry, and her award winning book, Is She Country?, on her website marleenbussma.com.

Marleen will be joining the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering October 5th – 8th, 2017.

Rick Huff’s “Best of the West Reviews,” Spring, 2017

Rick Huff reviews Western music and cowboy poetry releases in his “Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews” column in The Western Way from the Western Music Association and in other publications.

Rick Huff considers Western music books and recordings; cowboy poetry books, chapbooks, and recordings;  and relevant videos for review. For other materials, please query first: bestofthewest@swcp.com.

Please be sure to include complete contact information, price (plus postage) and order address information.

From Rick Huff, February, 2012:

Policy of the Column: It should be understood by artists sending material that it is being done for review consideration. Submitting such material does not ensure that it will be reviewed. Also, predominantly religious material is not accepted for review in the column. If further clarification is needed, contact Rick Huff, PO Box 8442, Albuquerque, NM 87198-8442.

Rick Huff
P.O. Box 8442
Albuquerque, NM 87198-8442

Find other recent reviews here and hundreds of previous reviews on CowboyPoetry.com.

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Selections from “Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews,” Spring, 2017, below:

CowboyPoetry.com MASTERS
Sam DeLeeuw COWBOY SEASONS
Almeda Bradshaw TRIBUTE
Sam Mattise SHADOW DUST
• 
Mary Kaye TAKE ME BACK TO TEXAS
• Joyce Woodson LIVING THE COWBOY DREAM
• Rich Price WESTERN SONGS
•  Panhandle Cowboys COWS, HORSES & COWGIRLS
•  Lone Chimney Films HOME ON THE RANGE
•  Wall-Eyed Moles WALL-EYED MOLES

 

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MASTERS
CowboyPoetry.com (Larry McWhorter, Sunny Hancock, Ray Owens & J.B. Allen)

In reviewing some releases, you really feel you should write a book! This is one of them.

This masterful (no pun intended) collection demonstrates not only the cowboy savvy and writing skill of this quartet, but also consummate storytelling ability in the delivery of their words and those of others. Here’s Larry McWhorter taking your emotions on a tearful trip with “Black Draught” and your face in a broad grin with “The Red Cow.” Plus his “Waitin’ On The Drive” and “Advice To The Traveler” are here and he closes with H.H. Knibbs’ “Where The Horses Come To Drink.” Then Sunny Hancock feeds you his magic with “The Horse Trade,” “A Bear Tale” and “The High Steppin’ Kind” with dessert being S. Omar Barker’s “The Cowboy’s Heaven!” While (by his own admission) Ray Owens might not have had quite the prowess of delivery his album mates possessed, his wonderful, often-covered words live on as his strength in “Color Blind,” “Tracks That Won’t Blow Out” and “The Saddle His Granddaddy Rode” and he earnestly recites J.B. Allen’s “A Rare Treat” (which this collection surely is). And Allen himself closes the collection with “The Medicine Keepers,” “Reasons For Stayin’, ” “Kindred Spirits” and Buck Ramsey’s “Anthem.” For many, each of these is a poet’s poet. Listen and you’ll know it! Seventeen
works.

CD:  CowboyPoetry.com

©2017, Rick Huff

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COWBOY SEASONS
Sam DeLeeuw

On this, Ms. D’s third release, some tracks are cowboy season-specific, some are all-season, but all of these poetic portions are seasoned to the cow culture taste.

Album picks include the cowboy lack-of awareness poem “Waitin'” and what could be the other side of it (“Cussed Old Cowboy”) or its all-too-plausible companion work “Dear John!” Also pick-worthy are the title track “Cowboy Seasons” and the sweet verse about girl and horse called “Jack.” Appropriate and pleasant guitar support for a number of the tracks is provided by David Anderson.

DeLeeuw takes serious turns in “The Rancher” (watching his life be auctioned away), “The Long Haul” (about commitment to the ranching life for better or worse) and “Prairie Phantom” with its sound effects of storm and stampede. You’ll find interesting perspectives in works like “Smell Of Horse” and a couple of tall tales (a lady Pecos Bill stars in “Hilda & The Tornado” and you’ll meet a giggling, hiccuping cow in “Big Windy”). And there’s a true O.Henry ending waiting in “Blue-Eyed Stranger.” A confession: I’m partial to Sam DeLeeuw’s cow noises. Twenty-one tracks.

CD: cowgalpoet.com

©2017, Rick Huff

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TRIBUTE
Almeda Bradshaw

As a rule I have not reviewed two- or three-song ETs, but the ever-increasing popularity of downloading individual songs has prompted a re-think on it.

Almeda Bradshaw won kudos across Cochise County in Arizona for her tribute song to slain sheriff (and cowboy) Larry Dever called “Larry Dever Did.”  She was inspired to create it after reading a book on the subject of his death that asked if it was accidental or murder.  Almeda fell into the category that believed the latter was true, and has now released the song for its eager fans to own.  Also on the ET is the poem “Cowboy” (by John Antrobus) which she adapted slightly in setting it to music.  Both songs feature sterling production values and performances from Almeda and players Lance Bendiksen (keyboards, accordion, harmonica, harmony vocals);  Ernie Martinez (banjo, dobro);  Johnny Neil & Nancy Steinburger (fiddles);  Dave Janssen (bass guitar) and Christian Teele (percussion).  Both of these “tribute” songs are worth your time and money to download.

(Song downloads available through almedam2bmusic.com/tribute)

©2017, Rick Huff

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SHADOW DUST
Sam Mattise

In his note accompanying the CD, singer/songwriter/poet Sam Mattise (rhymes with “ice”) said, “It’s a little different from most albums you hear and you may not care for it.” Trust me, Sam. I care for it, a whole bunch!

Vocally Mattise is somewhat reminiscent of Cat Stevens. He and his fellow musicians have proffered New Orleans style blues in Idaho for seventeen years under the name The Bitterbrush Blues Band, and the influences are brought to their Western material. It’s a great effect. Gotta say just hearing the swinging funky opening notes of the album’s first song “All Strung Out” brought a smile to my jaded face. All of the collection’s Western tracks (ten of the sixteen) I would call “picks,” but some I would elevate to “superb.” They are “Drover’s Camp” and “They Come Prancin'” (both written with A.K.
Moss), “Grandpa’s Saddle” (written with Tony Reed), “Echoes” and the spoken “Dreamin'” (both written with Charlie Camden). The other two co-writers on the CD are Mike Rupert and Gordon Peterson.

At least by subject content, some of the tracks would fall more into the Americana slot. Some of the picks there include the previously mentioned “All Strung Out,” “El Niño Blues” and “Me & Jack.” If Western is to grow, it will happen partly through other elements being brought intelligently and carefully into it. I hope we get to hear much more of this! Highly recommended!

CD:  sammattise.com

©2017, Rick Huff

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TAKE ME BACK TO TEXAS 
Mary Kaye

The title track is not the “Take Me Back To Texas” you might be thinking it is. This one is Mary Kaye’s all the way. Of course she makes “Streets Of Laredo.” “Leavin’ Cheyenne” and “Git Along Little Dogies” hers as well, just as much as she does her musical adaptation of Frank Desprez’s “Lasca.”

If all of that seems to have a familiar ring to it, it could be because this collection “takes you back” to releases from Mary Kaye’s earlier albums, some tried and true tracks with the main emphasis being on danceability, be it Swing, Waltz, Two-Step or You-Name-It. It will be particularly appreciated by late-comers to the powerful performance skills of Mary Kaye. She uses the word “sass” to describe her attitude songs. I’ve used it as well. That term works big-time to impart the effect of “Fringe,” “Girl Meets West” or “Grit Grace & Balin’ Twine”…not to mention her early career song “The Real Thing” and
even “The Prairie Preacher.”

Whether Take Me Back To Texas marks a re-visit for you or a new discovery, this Mary Kaye replay will be welcome. And—surprise, surprise—I’m recommending it! Fourteen tracks.

CD:  mary-kaye.com

©2017, Rick Huff

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LIVING THE COWBOY DREAM
Joyce Woodson

Once again Joyce Woodson “smooths” you along the trails of her own personal Western dream!

One of the consistently interesting aspects of Woodson’s releases is her ability to expand the territory covered by Western—not through experimentation, just following natural rivulets. Examples here are “Don & Diane,” “Souvenir,” “Girl On A Pony,” “Thank Jack,” “She’s In Love With Her Horse” and “You Couldn’t Buy That View.” And watch how many of these you will wind up hearing done by others.

For those who want to watch for Woodson to issue more songs for like “If I Hadn’t Seen The West,” check out “The Hidden Trail.” And two of her newer “most-requesteds” are here (“He Sang For Me” about Roy Rogers coming to see a kid in the hospital—something Roy touring with Hi Busse and the Frontiersmen managed to do at nearly every booking, and “That’s What A Pal Would Do”). Plus you’ll find some fresh views of classic Western scenes in “A Cowboy Far From Home” and the title track “Living The Western Dream.” Her many fans will eat it up.

Recommended, as always! Twelve tracks.

CD: joycewoodson.com

©2017, Rick Huff

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WESTERN SONGS
Rich Price
Here is the newest collection of big production writes and co-writes by “The Singing Sierran” Rich Price. Once again Price is shored up by an executive cadre of veteran performers the likes of which you will seldom see! Former members of Elvis Presley’s legendary back-up singers, The Jordanaires, bring rich harmony to the plate; Joey “The Cowpolka King” Miskulin has brought his considerable talents to it; harmonica legend Charlie McCoy, longtime player and producer Jimmy Capps with Harold Bradley; Brad
Alpin; Andy Reiss; and Bob Mater round it out. The mind boggles!

The “Big West” feel pervades, even on some decidedly non-Western tracks on this CD entitled “Western Songs,” such as “NashvilleTennessee” and “Blue Caribbean.” At least cowboys are in attendance lyrically on tracks like “Fast Lane” and “Baby’s Love.” More in line thematically are the CD’s pick tracks “Santa Fe Special” and “Lone Star Over Texas.” Vocally Price drifts leisurely onto and around the pitch, but his folks—both players and buyers—appear to be used to it. Twelve tracks.

CD:  iTunes and other outlets

©2017, Rick Huff

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COWS, HORSES & COWGIRLS 
Panhandle Cowboys

After a three year hiatus (at least from recording), the duo known as the Panhandle Cowboys has returned. Better engineered and mastered this time around, this album pretty much lets them be them.

Farmer Dave Fulfs is an accomplished Burl Ives-type singer on these original tracks. J.B. Barber contributes poetic narrations on eight of them, with nice support from Bodie Dominguez (guitar, bass & harmonica) and Elliott Marks (fiddle). The traditional style songwriting here strikes me as being particularly intelligent and suits Fulfs’ delivery well. One technical puzzlement: I don’t fully understand why Barber’s EQ (tone on his voice) and presence varies from one track to the next, but, whatever.

Picks include “Prairie Waltz,” “Coyote Swing,” “Blackfoot Joe,” “Cowboy Trail,” “The New Outfit,” “Thirty & Found” and “A P{lace Called Idaho.” It’s a nice little collection, and should find favor with the folks who take their Western Americana straight. Sixteen tracks.

CD: $15 ppd through farmerdave@turbonet.com or by calling for arrangements (509) 336-1616 and downloads are available through cdbaby.com.

©2017, Rick Huff

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HOME ON THE RANGE
Lone Chimney Films (various artists)

Here is the kind of film and soundtrack people keep hoping will appear: a movie about a Western subject that actually uses Western Music. Of course the subject actually is a Western song, but that wouldn’t stop some people from using Hip Hop!

The song in the spotlight appears a number of times, reasonably. Film actor Mathew Greer, Michael Martin Murphey and Sons Of The Pioneers versions of it are present, plus a finale featuring an “ensemble” of Mr. Murphey; Barry Ward; Rex Allen, Jr.; Hot Rize; Riders In The Sky; Cherokee Maidens; Uche; Bobby J. Edwards and Jesse Friesen…and KANSAS! The original song “Western Home” from Noah Trammell and Elena Henry should be lauded, and other notable contributors include the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s John McEuen. Individual tracks of interest include Connie Dover’s “I Am Going To The West,” Skip Gorman’s “When The Work’s All Done This Fall,” “Prairie Home Lullabye” from the outstanding harmony group Cherokee Maidens, the Diamond W Wranglers’ “Rolling Kansas Plains” and a rare home recording of “Zebra Dun” from one of radio’s early singing cowboys Roy Faukner.

It’s a monumental achievement, done in tribute to what is arguably the most important cowboy song of them all. Proceeds help support the maintenance of the original “Home On The Range” cabin in Smith County, Kansas. Fifteen tracks.

CD: lonechimneyfilms.org

©2017, Rick Huff

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WALL-EYED MOLES
Wall-Eyed Moles
In truth the musical collaboration of these folks predates their name by about a decade and a half. But enter now the Wall-Eyed Moles!

Like all good moles, they’ve given themselves names. Jeannie Cahill is “Victor Mole,” Jerome Campbell is ” Vance Mole” and Jon Messenger is—(whoa, horsey)—”Vivian Mole(??)” So fitting. And then they get down to serious music making! In fact this represents some of the absolute best work yet captured on a recording by Jon “Vivian” Messenger! The rowdy attitude that marks The Moles (is there a “Mark” Mole too?) is all over Tom Russell’s “Tonight We Ride” in lingo and delivery, and I swear Messenger’s
delivery of Russell’s “The Sky Above & The Mud Below” rivals, if not surpasses, Russell’s original.

There is a thoroughly cool a capella version of Tim Spencer’s “Over Nevada.” Some of the more familiar songs covered are provided with fresh coats, but most intriguing is the inclusion of songs not commonly thought of as Western. Cases in point: Steve Earle’s “Me & The Eagle,” Van Morrison’s “Moondance” or opening and closing “Ghost Riders In The Sky” with part of Led Zepplin’s “Stairway To Heaven.”

The CD closes with Messenger’s heartfelt recitation to music of Buck Ramsey’s “Anthem.” It’s line “we’ll be good and we’ll be free” could stand as a Mole Mission Statement. Recommended all over the place! Thirteen tracks.

CD:  www.facebook.com/walleyedmolesjeanneandjerome.com

©2017, Rick Huff

MASTERS CD

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“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 Cowboypoetry.com for preserving their voices.”   Andy Hedges, songster and host of COWBOY CROSSROADS

“CowboyPoetry.com 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.”

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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.

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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 CowboyPoetry.com.

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

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Below:
Track list and sources
Acknowledgements
About the cover and photos 
Order information  buynow

TRACK LIST

Introduction by Jay Snider

LARRY McWHORTER 1957-2003

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)

SUNNY HANCOCK 1931-2003

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)

CENTER FOR WESTERN AND COWBOY POETRY RADIO PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT (PSA) by Jay Snider

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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 COVER AND PHOTOS

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.

ORDER INFORMATION

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

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COWBOY BRAG TALK (anonymous)

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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.

…traditional

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 www.andyhedges.com. 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

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101 WAYS TO LOSE A CALF
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.

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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.

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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 l.lnadon@hotmail.com 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 CowboyPoetry.com.

THE BUYER’S TYPE by Floyd Beard

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THE BUYER’S TYPE
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 CowboyPoetry.com; 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.)