I’D LIKE TO BE IN TEXAS FOR THE ROUNDUP IN THE SPRING traditional

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I’D LIKE TO BE IN TEXAS FOR THE ROUNDUP IN THE SPRING
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In a lobby of a big hotel in New York town one day,
Sat a bunch of fellows telling yarns to pass the time away.
They told of places where they’d been and all the sights they’d seen,
And some of them praised Chicago town and others New Orleans.

I can see the cattle grazing o’er the hills at early morn;
I can see the camp-fires smoking at the breaking of the dawn,
I can hear the broncos neighing I can hear the cowboys sing;
Oh I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.

In a corner in an old arm chair sat a man whose hair was gray,
He had listened to them longingly, to what they had to say.
They asked him where he’d like to be and his clear old voice did ring:
“I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.

They all sat still and listened to each word he had to say;
They knew the old man sitting there had once been young and gay.
They asked him for a story of his life out on the plains,
He slowly then removed his hat and quietly began:

“Oh, I’ve seen them stampede o’er the hills,
when you’d think they`d never stop,
I’ve seen them run for miles and miles until their leader dropped,
I was foreman on a cow ranch—that’s the calling of a king;
I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.”

There’s a grave in sunny Texas where Molly Deming sleeps,
‘Mid a grove of mossy live oaks a constant vigil keeps.
In my heart’s a recollection of a long, long bygone day
When we rode the range together like truant kids astray.

Her gentle spirit calls me in the watches of the night
And I hear her laughter freshening the dew of early light.
Yes I was foreman of a cow ranch–the callin’ of a king,
And I’d like to be in Texas for the roundup in the spring.

I’d like to sleep my last long sleep with Mother Earth for bed
And my saddle for a pillow, and the bright stars overhead.
Then I could hear the last stampedes, the songs the rivers sing
Way back down in Texas when they roundup in the spring.

…authorship uncertain

The authorship of “I’d Like to Be in Texas…” is uncertain. In the late Glenn Ohrlin’s The Hell-Bound Train, he writes, “Vernon Dalhart recorded ‘Roundup in the Spring’ on November 1, 1926… The song was first printed in sheet music copyrighted in 1927 by Lou Fishback (Fort Worth, Tex.); Carl Copeland and Jack Williams were listed as co-writers. The following year, the Texas Folklore Society printed an article by J. Frank Dobie, who claimed it was an old song he had obtained from Andy Adams.”

The Lomax’s include information from the Dobie article, writing that “…he found two lines in an unpublished play of Mr. Andy Adams. When he requested the full version, Mr. Adams sent him two stanzas and the chorus, which he had obtained fifteen years previously from W. E. Hawks, a ranchman now living in Burlington, Vt. However, he claimed to be responsible for most of the second stanza….”

Thanks to Stanton Howe who commented when we previously posted this piece, “Duane Dickinson sang the best version of this I ever heard. He included the last verse[s] which makes the song make much better sense.” The less frequently heard second- and third-to-last verses above are from “Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads” by John and
Alan Lomax. The final verse is more commonly heard. As with most folk songs, there are many variations.

Cowboy and poet JB Allen (1938-2005) recorded an outstanding recitation of this work at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The recording is on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Ten.

Top cowboy balladeer Don Edwards sings it in a video here and the great Buck Ramsey (1938-1998) sings the song here.

Find more about “I’d Like to Be in Texas” at CowboyPoetry.com.

This 1929 photo by Russell Lee (1903-1986) is titled, “Cowboys roping horses at roundup near Marfa, Texas.” It is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs.

Russell Lee taught photography at the University of Texas, Austin, from 1965-1973, and is best known for his FSA photos. Find more about him at Texas State University’s Russell Lee Collection.

For some impressive photographs of Texas bluebonnets, check out Jason Weingart Photography,  where there is one dazzling photo that has been shared all over social media without attribution.

(This poem/song and posted photograph are in the public domain.)

THE SIERRY PETES (OR, TYING KNOTS IN THE DEVIL’S TAIL) by Gail I. Gardner

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by George Phippen (1915-1966); request permission for use

 

THE SIERRY PETES (OR, TYING KNOTS IN THE DEVIL’S TAIL)
Gail I. Gardner (1892-1988)

Away up high in the Sierry Petes,
Where the yeller pines grows tall,
Ole Sandy Bob an’ Buster Jig,
Had a rodeer camp last fall.

Oh, they taken their hosses and runnin’ irons
And maybe a dog or two,
An’ they ‘lowed they’d brand all the long-yered calves,
That come within their view.

And any old dogie that flapped long yeres,
An’ didn’t bush up by day,
Got his long yeres whittled an’ his old hide scorched,
In a most artistic way.

Now one fine day ole Sandy Bob,
He throwed his seago down,
“I’m sick of the smell of burnin’ hair,
And I ‘lows I’m a-goin’ to town.”

So they saddles up an’ hits ’em a lope,
Fer it warnt no sight of a ride,
And them was the days when a Buckeroo
Could ile up his inside.

Oh, they starts her in at the Kaintucky Bar,
At the head of Whiskey Row,
And they winds up down by the Depot House,
Some forty drinks below.

They then sets up and turns around,
And goes her the other way,
An’ to tell you the Gawd-forsaken truth,
Them boys got stewed that day.

As they was a-ridin’ back to camp,
A-packin’ a pretty good load,
Who should they meet but the Devil himself,
A-prancin’ down the road.

Sez he, “You ornery cowboy skunks,
You’d better hunt yer holes,
Fer I’ve come up from Hell’s Rim Rock,
To gather in yer souls.”

Sez Sandy Bob, “Old Devil be damned,
We boys is kinda tight,
But you ain’t a-goin’ to gather no cowboy souls,
‘Thout you has some kind of a fight.”

So Sandy Bob punched a hole in his rope,
And he swang her straight and true,
He lapped it on to the Devil’s horns,
An’ he taken his dallies too.

Now Buster jig was a riata man,
With his gut-line coiled up neat,
So he shaken her out an’ he built him a loop,
An’ he lassed the Devil’s hind feet.

Oh, they stretched him out an’ they tailed him down,
While the irons was a-gettin hot,
They cropped and swaller-forked his yeres,
Then they branded him up a lot.

They pruned him up with a de-hornin’ saw,
An’ they knotted his tail fer a joke,
They then rid off and left him there,
Necked to a Black-Jack oak.

If you’re ever up high in the Sierry Petes,
An’ you hear one Hell of a wail,
You’ll know it’s that Devil a-bellerin’ around,
About them knots in his tail.

…by Gail I. Gardner, 1917, from “Orejana Bull,” reprinted with permission of the Gardner/Steiger family

Hear about the creation of this poem and many captivating stories of the life of Gail I. Gardner in the current Cowboy Crossroads podcast from Andy Hedges. On the show, Gail Steiger, cowboy, ranch manager, songwriter, filmmaker and Gardner’s grandson tells those stories and performs the piece in the a cappella style that his grandfather preferred.

Though he was educated at Philip Exeter Academy and Dartmouth University, Gail I. Gardner’s desire was to work as a cowboy, which he did. Later in life, he became the postmaster of Prescott, Arizona.

Gail Steiger has shared a number of great family photos of his grandfather, posted in our feature at cowboypoetry.com, along with poems and more information.

Gail Gardner’s own recitation of “The Sierry Petes” is on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four. The cover of that collection has a picture of Gail Gardner as a child, made from a tintype.

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Gardner continually battled the notion that his poem was “anonymous.” He wrote it in 1917 and it became an immediate favorite, recited and put to music by others, quickly entering the realm of “classic.”

Many have put the poem to music, including Michael Martin Murphy, Chris LeDoux, Rex Allen, and others. Listen to the great Don Edwards’ version.

This George Phippen (1915-1966) painting was commissioned by Gail Steiger’s parents as a birthday present for Gail I. Gardner in the early 1960s.

Gail Steiger tells that Gail Gardner used to say the painting was his most prized possession and that he would have visitors sit down in front of it and “sing” his poem (listen to the recording on “The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four” for a taste of that experience). Before he presented Gardner with the painting, George Phippen made several visits with Gardner to do “research on cowboys of that earlier era,” inquiring about what they wore, the kind of horses and saddles they rode, and so on. Gardner said that Phippen “got every detail just right.”

The painting is about 24″x 30.” The Gardner/Steiger family has loaned the painting to Prescott, Arizona’s Phippen Museum of Western Art.

Thanks to Gail Steiger and the Gardner/Steiger family for permissions, much shared information, and photographs.

(Please respect copyright. Request permission for use of this poem or image.)

TACKIN’ ON THE SHOES by S. Omar Barker

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TACKIN’ ON THE SHOES
by S. Omar Barker (1894–1985)

Of all the ol’ back-achin’ jobs
a cowpoke’s got to do,
There’s mighty few as tough as when
he’s got a bronc to shoe.
There’s horses that stand gentle
and don’t ever try to kick,
Not even when a hammered nail
goes plumb into the quick;

But even when they’re thataway,
their hoofs ain’t nothin’ light
To hold up when you rasp and trim
to fit the shoe just right.
Some ponies are such leaners
that I’ve heard ol’ cowboys say
That once they’ve had to shoe ’em,
they can tell you what they weigh.

You’ve got to hold the foot up snug
and tight between your knees,
And horny hoofs ain’t soft to trim
like whittlin’ on a cheese.
You hammer all stooped over
when you do a job of platin’,
Until you sometimes wonder if
your back will ever straighten.

You’ve got to set them nails in true
while sweatin’ blinds your eyes,
And watch out that the horse don’t jerk
and take you by surprise.
This job of platin’ ponies
takes a heap of patient skill,
Along with sweat and muscle,
even when the horse holds still.

Some outfits hire a horseshoe man,
but on the ones that don’t,
Cowpokes have this chore to do.
They never say they won’t,
But if a horse gits wringy
and they bang a careless thumb,
There ain’t much doubt but what
you’ll hear them cowpokes cussin’ some,

For tackin’ on the horseshoes,
just to tell it fair and square,
Can’t never be done proper
if you ain’t learned how to swear!

© 1966, S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker

This week we’re all about shoeing.

S. Omar Barker, born in the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico, was a rancher, high school teacher, college professor, forest ranger, soldier, outdoorsman, and legislator.

Barker was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America (and twice the winner of their Spur Award) and was inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s Hall of Great Westerners, the first living author to receive that recognition. His poems were frequently published by Western Horseman and appeared in many other publications. He published four collections of his hundreds of poems, edited many books, and wrote novels and non-fiction.

Our 2018 MASTERS: VOLUME TWO has over 60 tracks in a double CD of the poetry of S. Omar Barker. Many of today’s top reciters and poets—including individuals, siblings, couples, parents and their offspring—bring forth Barker’s humor and humanity.

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These US Army photos are from The Library of Congress. Find more about the one at the top here, dated sometime between 1909-1940, here. The date of the second photo is estimated to be between 1909 and 1923.

(Please respect copyright. Request permission to share this poem. The photos are in the public domain.)

ROPE MUSIC by S. Omar Barker

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ROPE MUSIC
by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

Oh, I’ve heard a lot of music, human-made and Nature’s own,
Fiddled tunes an’ hummin’ thrummin’ melodies,
With sometimes a squealin’ clarinet or sobbin’ saxophone,
And at others just a wind-song in the trees.

Once I heard “O Sole Mio” and it kinder choked my throat—
Just the way she sorter sung it from her heart.
Crickets whirrin’ in the evenin’—runnin’ water’s quiet note—
Oh, such singin’ might ‘nigh bust your soul apart.

I can catch a drift of music in the howl of wolves at night,
In the cud-a-r-rupp of hosses on the lope,
But the song that never fails to make the world and all seem right
Is the swishin’, swingin’ singin’ of my rope!

Just the whisper-whistle hummin’ of a momentary tune
Every puncher knows the rope song of the West—
Though there may be grander music than my loopin’ lasso’s croon,
I’m a cowboy, and to me it sounds the best!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker from “Buckaroo Ballads,” 1928

Barker’s poem also appeared in Top-Notch Magazine, March 15, 1925. S. Omar Barker was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman. Find more about S. Omar Barker at cowboypoetry.com.

“Rope Music” makes for a great recitation in the right hands; Arizona cowboy, ranch manager, songwriter and filmmaker Gail Steiger (gailsteigermusic.com) does a fine rendition, with the addition of just the perfect amount of sound effects. He recorded the poem for MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, the poetry of S. Omar Barker.

This 1905 stereograph is titled “Fancy ‘roping’ at a cowboys’ camp, Oklahoma.” It’s from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post; any other uses require permission. The stereograph is in the public domain.)

THE TEXAS COWBOY traditional

brigidjohnnyBrigid and Johnny “Guitar” Reedy photo © 2019, John Reedy

THE TEXAS COWBOY
traditional

O, I’m a Texas cowboy
and far away from home,
If I get back to Texas,
I never more will roam.

Montana is too cold for me
and the winters are too long
Before the roundups do begin,
your money is all gone.

To win these fancy leggins,
you’ll have enough to do
They cost me twenty dollars
the day that they were new;

And this old hen-skin bedding
is too thin to keep me warm
I nearly freeze to death, boys,
whenever there’s a storm.

I’ve worked down in Nebraska
where the grass grows ten feet high,
Where the cattle are such rustlers,
they hardly ever die;

I’ve worked up in the Sand Hills
and down along the Platte
Where the punchers are good fellows
and the cattle always fat.

I’ve traveled lots of country,
from Nebraska’s hills of sand
Down through the Indian Nation
and up the Rio Grande

But the badlands of Montana
are the worst I’ve ever seen
The cowboys are all tenderfeet
and the dogies are too lean.

They wake you in the morning
before the break of day
And send you on a circle
a hundred miles away,

Your grub is bread and bacon
and coffee black as ink
And water so full of alkali
it’s hardly fit to drink.

If you want to see some badlands,
go over to the Dry
You’ll bog down in the coulees
where the mountains meet the sky.

With a tenderfoot to guide you,
who never knows the way
You are playing in the best of luck
if you eat three times a day.

Up along the Yellowstone,
it’s cold the whole year round,
And you’ll surely get consumption
if you sleep upon the ground;

Your pay is almost nothing
for six months in the year
And when your debts are settled,
there’s nothing left for beer.

Now all you Texas cowboys,
this warning take from me,
Don’t come up to Montana
to spend your money free.

But stay at home in Texas
where there’s work the whole year round
And you’ll never get consumption
from sleeping on the ground.

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Jim Bob Tinsley, in his 1981 book, He Was Singin’ This Song, notes that this piece appeared as a poem in March, 1888, in the Glendive Independent, a Montana newspaper. He also adds, “A lot of Texas cowboys stayed in Montana after they got off the trail. Not all of them disliked the northern range. Many found it appealing, settled down, and called it home.”

Many have performed this classic, but perhaps few as colorfully as Montanans Brigid and Johnny “Guitar” Reedy on their new Next Go ‘Round CD.

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The two Reedys have been lighting up stages across the West, from the Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering to the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering to the Lost ‘n Lava Cowboy Gathering, the Texas Hill Country Cowboy Gathering, and beyond. Find them later this year at the Cowpoke Fall Gathering.

Gifted musician, poet, and artist, 19-year old Brigid Reedy and her equally talented brother, Johnny “Guitar” Reedy⁠—14 on the outside and a cool 40 on the inside—have been performing for most of their lives.

The accomplished duo’s new Next Go ‘Round is brimming with Western tunes, swing classics, folk and traditional music, blues, jazz, original pieces, and more, all delivered with the highest level of professionalism.

Deeply rooted in traditional music and standards, they combine dazzling technique and unmatchable sibling harmony with exuberance, throughout. Joy fuels their performances.

The carefully selected classic and traditional tunes range from the obscure to the better known. They also offer their own inventive tunes, with pizzazz.

Western pieces “Drifting Texas Sands” and “Texas Cowboy” are solid anchors. They introduce the latter as “One for our old buddy Glenn Ohrlin,” the beloved late folk musician and music historian who was a great friend and admirer. He’s just one of many Western greats who have praised this duo.

Their original compositions stand out and stand up to the classics. “Little Too Long in the Bunkhouse” shows off dizzying craft along with inventive scat singing. Their versatility shines in a dreamy instrumental “Palio Waltz.”

Brigid’s solo creations include the winning, “Ask Him to Dance,” “Sleep Though the Sun is Shining,” “I Love Going Nowhere with You,” and the short, dramatic, “Moth Hunter.”

There’s lots of fun here. “I Heard,” Don Redman’s song that was featured in a 1930’s film starring Betty Boop, is a delight. Also from the period is Irving Berlin’s eccentric “My Walking Stick,” from the movie Alexander’s Ragtime Band, delivered with impeccable style. Their rendition of “The Devil Ain’t Lazy” surely has Bob Wills smiling down on them.

Traditional songs range from a convincing “Mean Old Bed Bug Blues” to an appealing “Pretty Fair Maid in the Garden” ballad and much in between.

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Considerable thought, research, and skill built this project. The delightful package is as charming as the music, filled with art and commentary by Brigid Reedy. The rest of the family had important roles, including production and art direction by their father John Reedy and graphic design by their mother, artist Heather Kahrl Reedy. Next Go ‘Round was recorded at The Round Barn near Twin Bridges, Montana, a venue on the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s pure entertainment. Treat yourself. Find it at brigidreedy.com.

 

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A recent cover story in Alta magazine’s Winter 2020 issue, “Songs of the New West,” by Meredith Lawrence, profiles Brigid Reedy and she comments on her work with her brother. Andy Hedges, Amy Hale Steiger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and Dom Flemons are also featured.

Thanks to John Reedy (reedy.photoshelter.com, well worth viewing) for this photograph of Brigid and Johnny.

Find more at brigidreedy.com.

 

Request permission to share this post; the song is in the public domain.

THE PEARL OF THEM ALL, by William Henry “Will” Ogilvie

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THE PEARL OF THEM ALL
William Henry “Will” Ogilvie (1869-1963)

Gaily in front of the stockwhip
The horses come galloping home,
Leaping and bucking and playing
With sides all a lather of foam;
But painfully, slowly behind them,
With head to the crack of the fall,
And trying so gamely to follow
Comes limping the pearl of them all.

He is stumbling and stiff in the shoulder,
And splints from the hoof to the knee,
But never a horse on the station
Has half such a spirit as he;
Give these all the boast of their breeding
These pets of the paddock and stall,
But ten years ago not their proudest
Could live with the pearl of them all.

No journey has ever yet beat him,
No day was too heavy or hard,
He was king of the camp and the muster
And pride of the wings of the yard;
But Time is relentless to follow;
The best of us bow to his thrall;
And death, with his scythe on his shoulder,
Is dogging the pearl of them all.

I watch him go whinnying past me,
And memories come with a whirl
Of reckless, wild rides with a comrade
And laughing, gay rides with a girl –
How she decked him with lilies and love-knots
And plaited his mane at my side,
And once in the grief of a parting
She threw her arms round him and cried.

And I promised – I gave her my promise
The night that we parted in tears,
To keep and be kind to the old horse
Till Time made a burden of years;
And then for his sake and one woman’s…
So, fetch me my gun from the wall!
I have only this kindness to offer
As gift to the pearl of them all.

Here! hold him out there by the yard wing,
And don’t let him know by a sign:
Turn his head to you – ever so little!
I can’t bear his eyes to meet mine.
Then – stand still, old boy! for a moment …
These tears, how they blind as they fall!
Now, God help my hand to be steady …
Good-bye! – to the pearl of them all!

…by William Henry Ogilvie

Few poems are held in such high regard as this heart-breaking piece by William Henry “Will” Ogilvie. It is particularly powerful when told by a talented reciter, such as Randy Rieman, Jerry Brooks, Joel Nelson, or the late Milton Taylor.

Scotsman Will Ogilvie lived in Australia for a dozen years, where he became a top station hand, drover, and horse breaker. His poems “Hooves of the Horses” and “The Pearl of Them All” are his works heard most often at gatherings in North America. (Wylie Gustafson of Wylie and the Wild West set “Hooves of the Horses to music.) Ogilvie was a popular writer who contributed to the Bulletin—the paper that published poets and writers including Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson, Harry “Breaker” Morant (Ogilvie’s close friend), and others—even after his return to Scotland.

Find more about Ogilvie at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photo detail is from a 1939 photo by Russell Lee (1903-1986) titled “Cowboy petting his horse. Cattle ranch near Spur, Texas.” It’s from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

(This poem and photograph are in the public domain.)

THAT LITTLE BLUE ROAN by Bruce Kiskaddon

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THAT LITTLE BLUE ROAN
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

Most all of you boys have rode horses like that.
He wasn’t too thin but he never got fat.
The old breed that had a moustache on the lip;
He was high at the wethers and low at the hip.
His ears always up, he had wicked bright eyes
And don’t you furgit he was plenty cow wise.

His ears and his fets and his pasterns was black
And a stripe of the same run the length of his back.
Cold mornin’s he’d buck, and he allus would kick
No hoss fer a kid or a man that was sick.
But Lord what a bundle of muscle and bone;
A hoss fer a cow boy, that little blue roan.

For afternoon work or for handlin’ a herd,
He could turn any thing but a lizzard or bird.
For ropin’ outside how that cuss could move out.
He was to ’em before they knowed what ’twas about.
And runnin’ down hill didn’t faize him aytall.
He was like a buck goat and he never did fall.

One day in the foot hills he give me a break
He saved me from makin’ a awful mistake,
I was ridin’ along at a slow easy pace,
Takin’ stock of the critters that used in that place,
When I spied a big heifer without any brand.
How the boys ever missed her I don’t onderstand.
Fer none of the stock in that country was wild,
It was like takin’ candy away from a child.

She never knowed jest what I had on my mind
Till I bedded her down on the end of my twine.
I had wropped her toes up in an old hoggin’ string,
And was buildin’ a fire to heat up my ring.
I figgered you see I was there all alone
Till I happened to notice that little blue roan.

That hoss he was usin’ his eyes and his ears
And I figgered right now there was somebody near.
He seemed to be watchin’ a bunch of pinon,
And I shore took a hint from that little blue roan.

Instead of my brand, well, I run on another.
I used the same brand that was on the calf’s mother.
I branded her right pulled her up by the tail
With a kick in the rump for to make the brute sail.
I had branded her proper and marked both her ears,
When out of the pinions two cow men appears.

They both turned the critter and got a good look
While I wrote the brand down in my own tally book.
There was nothin to do so they rode up and spoke
And we all three set down fer a sociable smoke.
The one owned the critter I’d happened to brand,
He thanked me of course and we grinned and shook hands
Which he mightn’t have done if he only had known
The warnin’ I got from that little blue roan.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon, 1947, from “Rhymes of the Ranges”
Hal Cannon, retired Founding Director of the Western Folklife Center and currently a part of the acclaimed 3hattrio band, writes, in his introduction to Rhymes of the Ranges (1987), “Probably the most often recited of Kiskaddon’s poems is ‘The Little Blue Roan.” The editor of the Western Livestock Journal concurred, writing in a 1938 note about Kiskaddon’s work, that “Probably his ‘Little Blue Roan’ is the most popular.”

While the poem may have been overshadowed in recent years by others, what Hal Cannon had to say merits considering:

It tells of a cowboy about to brand an unmarked heifer. The cowboy tells how his little horse keeps watching some pinon trees in the distance as he prepares to put his brand on another man’s animal. The horse’s uneasiness makes him decide to brand the heifer with the same brand that is on her mother standing nearby. As he does, two cowmen emerge from the pinion, but, seeing that everything is right with the branding, they all sit for a sociable smoke. A potentially explosive situation has been averted by the warning from the horse.

The poem bursts with potential drama and emotion. Yet, it is so intensely understated that, to the casual reader, it might seem barely to hold together. It has great meaning only to someone who shared intimately the significance of a brand, the complicated ethics of cattlemen, cowboy language, and the love of a horse…This kind of shared knowledge is at the heart of folk art, for effective folk art depends most deeply on communicating the shared experiences of the group that produces it.

In his monumental collection of Bruce Kiskaddon’s poems (nearly 500), Open Range, editor Bill Siems also includes an earlier version of this poem, from Kiskaddon’s 1935 book, Western Poems.

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The late J.B. Allen’s recitation of “That Little Blue Roan” is included on MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, a 3-disc CD of Bruce Kiskaddon’s poems.

Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

This 2005 photograph, titled “Two Young Nakota Mares,” is by François Marchal and is from Wikimedia Commons.

The poem is in the public domain.