OCTOBER’S EARLY SNOW by Dennis Russell

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OCTOBER’S EARLY SNOW
by Dennis Russell

I search as I ride while my horse’s hooves glide
In October’s early snow.
We’re prowlin’ quite wide as the heifers all hide
From this winter’s first big show.

It’s been a week now we cut calves from our cows.
In their eyes it don’t seem right.
I still can recall the cow’s lone distant bawl.
She worried on through the night.

With weaning all done as calves look for warm sun
Their whole world is turning white.
Well how could they know as the grass turns to snow
That this day’ll end up all right?

We ride up this way in the fall every day
To check calves and breathe fresh air.
My horse stops to drink as his feet slowly sink
In the stream. He takes his share.

My thoughts stray off course while I doze on my horse
As we prowl without true goal.
It’s this time of year that a man can think clear
When his heart is near his soul.

With a gentle push past tall trees and oak bush
Cold young calves will start downhill.
We’ll wind on around with the heifers all found
T’where it’s warm. They’ll shake this chill.

Calves will find good grass. There is none they will pass.
Oh my Lord! A grand ol’ sight.
This bunch will sleep sound in the soft grassy mounds.
They’ll be safe and warm tonight.

© 2017, Dennis Russell
This poem should be reposted or reprinted without permission

 

New Mexico rancher Dennis Russell’s bio tells that he “…blends his original western poems and songs as well as sharing some of the classics at campfires or cowboy gatherings.”

He includes “October’s Early Snow” on his new CD, New Mexico Stray. The track notes tell, “In the dry years we used to leave our cattle in the mountain pastures as long as there was grass, even into the late fall and “October’s Early Snow.”

The subtitle of the CD is “A collection of music and poetry I hold close to my heart,” and he comments, “Every song, poem, or story that is put on paper or dedicated to memory is created from the tracks of a trail already ridden. As for me, I’ve crossed many trails with many tracks. Some are quite simple to read, while others, are still not understood to this day. And yet they all make up what I am in my heart.” New Mexico Stray is a mix of original and classic poetry and music, and you can listen to full tracks at his web site.

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The title of the CD refers to Bruce Kiskaddon’s poem of the same name. Dennis Russell’s recitation of that poem is on his CD and on the new triple CD from CowboyPoetry.com, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon.

Dennis is the founder of New Mexico’s annual Cimarron Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering held at the Philmont Scout Ranch. The 6th annual event takes place August 22-25, 2019.

Scheduled poets and musicians include Floyd Beard, Valerie Beard, Broken Chair Band, Dale Burson, Don Cadden, Cowboy Way, Danner Hampton, Randy Huston, Jill Jones, Peggy Malone, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Terry Nash, Claudia Nygaard, Dale Page, Dennis Russell, Rocky Sullivan, Rod Taylor, and Barry Ward.

Find more about Dennis Russell at cowboypoetry.com and at his site, cimarroncowboypoet.com.

The above photo of Dennis Russell was taken by Dale Page in Redwing, Colorado. The photo below is by Valerie Beard.

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Celebrate the NATIONAL DAY OF THE COWBOY, Saturday, July 27, 2019

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

COW SENSE, by Bruce Kiskaddon

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COW SENSE
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

You have heard people a sayin’ “As dumb as a cow.”
Well they ain’t seen much cattle I’ll tell you right now.
A cow she knows more than some people by half;
She’s the only thing livin’ that savvys a calf.
A cow don’t know nothin? Well, how do you think
They suckle young calves and walk miles fer a drink?

You have watched an old cow; or I reckon you did,
If she’s got a young calf why she keeps it well hid.
She has planted it out where it jest caint be found,
And she won’t go near there if there’s anything ’round.
You just make that calf give a jump or a beller
And that old cow is there to charge into a feller.

If there’s several young calves in a bunch, you will find,
When their Ma’s go to drink they leave one cow behind.
And when they git full and come back to the bunch
She goes to git her a drink and some lunch.
You kin talk of day nurseries. I reckon as how,
They was fustly invented and used by a cow.

Perhaps you have noticed some times on a drive
With cows, men and hosses more dead than alive,
When you got near the water, as soon as they smelt,
Them old cows went fer it jest Hellity belt.
Then the drags was all calves but they didn’t furgit ’em;
When they drunk they come back and they shore didn’t quit ’em.

They let their calves suck and kept out of the rush,
So them calves didn’t git in the mud and the crush.
I’m telling you people without any jokes,
Cows make better parents than plenty of folks.
If folk thought the thing over, I reckon as how,
They wouldn’t be sayin’ “As dumb as a cow.”

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

This poem is from Bruce Kiskaddon’s 1935 book, Western Poems; it also appeared in the Western Livestock Journal.

In the new triple-CD set from cowboypoetry.com, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon, New Mexico rancher, writer, and poet Deanna Dickinson McCall has a great recitation of “Cow Sense.”

Thanks to Rick Huff of the International Western Music Association for his review of the project in the current issue of the organization’s The Western Way. He writes, in part, “…If you are not already Kiskaddon-oriented, let this opportunity immerse you in what it really is to be– and see through the eyes and feel with the heart of–a cowboy. Highly
recommended.”

Wheaton Hall Brewer wrote, in his introduction to 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.

Colorado rancher and poet Terry Nash shares this photo taken in late June this year. The most recent International Western Music Association awards named Terry Nash the Male Poet of the Year and his “A Good Ride” was named Best CD of the year.

Just a few places to find Terry in coming months include the 32nd annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, August 8-10, 2019; New Mexico’s upcoming 6th annual Cimarron Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering, August 22-25, 2019; and Colorado’s 4th annual Western Slope Cowboy Gathering, November 1-2, 2019.

Learn more about Terry Nash at CowboyPoetry.com and at terrynashcowboypoet.com.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this photo with this post, but please request permission for any other use. The poem is in the public domain.)

SKYPE (#don’tgetthispoundsignstuff), by Terry Nash

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SKYPE (#don’tgetthispoundsignstuff)
by Terry Nash

Never thought I’d ever twitter
Nor considered that I’d tweet.
I’ve kept my hashtags to myself
And my sentences complete.

I used to think that Facebook
just happened when in bed
And you’d drifted off mid-paragraph
And yer novel hit yer head.

But, now I have this smart phone
With touch screen and some apps,
And I’m feelin’ sorta trendy
And I figure, just perhaps,

I’ll polish up my ‘tech’-nique;
Succumb to the latest hype,
Clean my hat, brush my ‘stache
And call someone and skype!

I figured just this mornin’
I’d be sure to catch Ol’ Claude.
When he see’s my grinnin’ face
There’s no doubt he’ll be awed!

So I called a little early
To catch him still at home…
Hadn’t ever seen him hatless,
But the glare off his ol’ dome

Plumb blinded me at first!
And when he started into talkin’
He hadn’t stuck his teeth in yet;
It was sorta like he’s squawkin’!

Claude didn’t know we’s skypin’-
Held the phone up just to listen
And I swear I seed plum through him
Confirmin’ my suspicion;

Some cowboys got dang little
‘Twixt their left ear and their right
Next time I skype ol’ Claude
It’ll be in the dark of night!

© 2015, Terry Nash
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

Colorado rancher, reciter, and poet Terry Nash includes this poem on his recent CD, A Good Ride. The most recent International Western Music Association awards named Terry Nash the Male Poet of the Year and A Good Ride was named Best CD of the year.

Find the complete playlist for A Good Ride and another poem of Terry’s here on this blog.

Catch Terry at New Mexico’s upcoming 6th annual Cimarron Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering, August 22-25, 2019. Other poets and musicians include Floyd Beard, Valerie Beard, Broken Chair Band, Dale Burson, Don Cadden, Cowboy Way, Danner Hampton, Randy Huston, Jill Jones, Peggy Malone, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Claudia Nygaard, Dale Page, Dennis Russell, Rocky Sullivan, Rod Taylor, and Barry Ward.

Learn more about Terry Nash at CowboyPoetry.com and about his CDs, schedule, and more at his web site, terrynashcowboypoet.com.

This photo shows Terry with Jax and Daisy the dog.

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

NO BETTER LIFE by Valerie Beard

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NO BETTER LIFE
by Valerie Beard

The old faucet drips, as slowly she sips
Her coffee in morning’s dull glow.
Storm’s ragin’ a battle, she’s home with the cattle.
The temperature reads five below.

The wind was a blowin’, and it was still snowin’
She stepped out to do morning chores.
The snow was a driftin’, with icy snakes siftin’;
A solid sheen sealed the barn doors.

Wet flakes stung her face, she steadied her pace;
Her scarf danced an icy staccato.
Wires thrummed out a wail, trees bent to the gale;
Barn eaves moaned a mournful vibrato.

Inside it was still, she forked them their fill;
They nickered from stalls safe and warm.
She calmed down their fears, scratched soft neck and ears,
Then plunged right back into the storm.

The truck started rough, but it was enough.
She’d loaded the bales night before.
Then drove from the haystack, with two dogs in the back
And one settled down on the floor.

A drift to the knee, she broke the gate free
Plowed into the sheltered corral.
With no cows in there yet, but a fella could bet
That horned rip would soon be her pal.

Was it worth the chance to play the gate dance,
In case the old jessies came in?
She rolled bales to the ground, and glanced round at the sound
Of old Horn just sporting a grin.

Horn sallied right up, and started to sup
On hay that she’d jerked to the ground.
But ignoring that cow, the wife furrowed her brow
Spread bales with a vigor newfound.

Confronting the cow, she knew that somehow
She’d wrestle that bale on again.
With a wave and a yell, that cow could just tell
T’was time to move on in the pen.

Now with the cow gone, she tossed the bale on;
The dogs hunkered down by the spare.
She crawled back in the truck, and spun out of the muck,
Back into the rime-frosted air.

Her cowboy’s away, thoughts with her today;
He worries for her with the chores.
They warned of the squall, arrived at nightfall;
He wished she could just stay indoors.

Back home in the gale, she knew without fail
Ice on the tank would be frozen.
A lick of the ax, and several hard whacks;
She thinks of the life that they’ve chosen.

Shards fly here and there, spray froze in the air;
Ice chunks were soon scattered about.
Cattle filtered in slow, and they all seemed to know
She’d be there for them there’s no doubt.

Cows walked to their hay, a bovine buffet.
She’s glad they’d come in from the range.
Now two years in a drought, but they’d never sell out.
She knew others might think it strange.

Stood watching them eat, the wild wind beat
At her clothes caked and frozen with snow.
Then after awhile, walked off with a smile,
Thought no better life she could know.

© 2015, Valerie Beard, used with permission
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without the author’s permission

Colorado native Valerie Beard ranches with her husband, Floyd (also a cowboy poet), in the canyons of Southeastern Colorado.

Valerie Beard is one of the featured performers at New Mexico’s Cimarron Cowboy Music & Poetry Gathering, August 24-26, 2018. Also performing are Broken Chair Band, Floyd Beard, Dale Burson, Janice Deardorff, Doug Figgs, Purly Gates, Danner Hampton, Randy Huston, Washtub Jerry, Jill Jones, Jim Jones, Susie Knight, Jessica Hedges, Peggy Malone, Deanna McCall, Terry Nash, Claudia Nygaard, Dale Page, Ramblin’ Rangers, Dennis Russell, JJ Steele, Rocky Sullivan, and Rod Taylor.

Valerie says of this photo, “That’s my special friend Duke sporting that lovely set of ears.”

Find more about Valerie Beard at CowboyPoetry.com, and at floydbeardcowboy.com.

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

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 on the CowboyPoetry.com blog, where he calls Short Grass Country, a “collection of top-drawer cowboy thoughts and delivery.”

This photo is courtesy of Floyd Beard.

Find more about Floyd Beard at CowboyPoetry.com and  at his web site,
floydbeardcowboy.com.

Floyd is making an impressive and determined recovery from a stroke earlier this year, and he is back on the cowboy poetry trail, as he likes to call it. One place he’s headed is New Mexico’s Fifth Annual Cimarron Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering, August 24-26, 2018. The gathering has “…over 20 top notch, award-winning pickers, singers, and poets lined up..” Floyd joins Terry Nash, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Dale Burson, Randy Huston, Peggy Malone, Jim Jones, Doug Figgs, and others.

Find more about the event on Facebook and at cimarroncowboygathering.com.

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

ONCE WE WERE KINGS by Dale Page

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photo by Karen Gilbride, Captured By Karen

ONCE WE WERE KINGS
by Dale Page

It’s a half day’s ride to this cabin door
Where I spent my eighteenth year.
There are spur marks there on the old wood floor,
But the crew’s no longer here.

So it’s silent now, where a noisy gang
Gathered round to lie and spar
Or to ponder life while some waddy sang
To his battered old guitar.

All the bunk bed slats have been long since burned
By the hungry cast iron stove.
In the corner there lies a chair, upturned,
With the leather seat I wove.

There an old grass rope and a horsehair rein
Hang forgotten on the wall.
That old Frazier rig won’t be rode again.
Whose it was, I can’t recall.

Through the flyspecked, broken out window there
Stands an empty pine pole pen.
All the broncs are gone, but I don’t know where.
And what’s worse, I don’t know when.

And the boys who rode for their meager wage,
Which was thrown away each week,
Were a part of a wild and woolly age
Which gave way to mild and meek.

I can see them there, ‘round the coosie’s fire
When the herd was bedded down.
We would swear our oaths we would not retire
To a lesser life in town.

We would toast our lives with a strong black brew
While we dined on beef and beans.
We looked down on the suit and necktie crew
Who don’t know what living means.

For we ruled the world from our leather thrones,
Cinched atop a half-broke mount.
And we spent our youth as if kings, not drones.
We were rich in things that count.

When we tally dreams that can still come true
We will find our herds are short.
But we won’t regret what we didn’t do
When we stand that final sort.

For a few short years we were pleased to live
As the luckiest of men.
We enjoyed the best that this life can give
Because we were cowboys then.

© 2007, Dale E. Page
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without the author’s permission

Dale Page tells about the poem’s inspiration:

The location in this poem is the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Cimarron, New Mexico, where I spent the summer after graduating high school. The barn where our bunkroom was located is 10 miles off paved road at an elevation of about 8,000 feet. We had 50 horses up there and that many pack burros. I had only one day off the entire summer, but I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

After 40 years, I returned to the camp and found it pretty much the same. I have to admit it showed a little less wear than I. Standing there brought back a lot of memories of good horses and good friends. In my mind, I could still see the palomino paint at the corral gate, waiting for me to go jingle up the rest of the horses. It was a great place and a great time of my life. That summer changed me from a city boy to a pretty decent rider and a lover of New Mexico.

He adds, in liner notes to his 2014 Once We Were Kings CD, “…It’s about times to which we can’t go back, but times we don’t want to forget.”

Listen to Dale Page recite his poem on the most recent Back at the Ranch Radio show from Jarle Kvale.

Dale Page is also included in the lineup at the Fourth Annual Cimarron Cowboy Music & Poetry Gathering, August 25-27, 2017 at New Mexico’s Philmont Scout Ranch, just south of Cimarron. Other performers include Floyd Beard, Valerie Beard, Broken Chair Band, Dale Burson, Janice Deardorff, Doug Figgs, Purly Gates, Danner Hampton, Randy Huston, Washtub Jerry, Jill Jones, Jim Jones, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Peggy Malone, Terry Nash, Claudia Nygaard, Dale Page, Ramblin’ Rangers, Sandy Reay, Dennis Russell, Mark Smith, Rocky Sullivan, Rod Taylor, and Jim Wilson.

The event continues to grow, and this year there is a great-looking chuck wagon. Find more about that and the event on Facebook,  and at cimarroncowboygathering.com.   Find more poetry and more about Dale Page at CowboyPoetry.com, and at his web site, DalePage.com.

This photograph of Dale Page, which he calls “Colorado Sunset,” is by Karen Gilbride of Grand Junction, Captured By Karen.