by Andy Nelson

The day that the dogs took over the ranch,
Was a day just like the others;
They figured they had all the help they needed,
With all their sisters and brothers.

So, they fired the people and sent them away,
And divvied the chores between dogs;
Each of them having at least some expertise,
In caring for cattle and hogs.

The Border Collie was voted the foreman,
The Aussie was next in command;
And barked out orders to the rest of the pack,
“Oy, muster the doggies at hand.”

“Aye, get off yer bahoochies,” snapped a Sheltie,
The Kelpie yelped, “Good on ya, mate;
No one could understand the Catahoula,
As he sat there blocking the gate.

An English sheep dog woofed, “I’ll watch the woolies,”
“For this purpose, I’ve been tutored;”
The Heeler howled, “I’ll take care of the Sheilas,”
Even though he had been neutered.

And they did just fine for a while on the ranch,
Everything seemed hunky dory;
Til one day a snotty scotty terrier,
Marked another’s territory.

Then they all began to bark more and wag less,
And it came to a fever pitch;
When the Dachshund was fired the day after he called
the boss’s sister a bitch.

The Pyrenees chased off the coyote cousins,
For eating some of the chickens;
The Labradoodle phoned the SPCA;
From there the plot only thickens.

Cuz someone made fun of the Shih Tzu’s haircut,
And called him a mop with four feet;
Then they all had to take some workplace training,
And learn how to be more discreet.

It all fell apart when the Chihuahua got stuck,
Trying to clear a blocked rumen;
“Ah bloody hell,” snapped an indigent Corgi,
“We’re in dire need of a human.”

The Collie growled, “Let’s not be too hasty chaps,
I’m not sure that we need those bums;
I think a chimpanzee would do in a pinch,
All we really need are some thumbs.”

© 2018, Andy Nelson, used with permission
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Pinedale, Wyoming’s Andy Nelson is a second-generation farrier, cowboy poet, emcee, humorist, rodeo announcer, and co-host (with his brother Jim) of the popular syndicated Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio show.

“When the Dogs Took Over the Ranch is on new CD, Uncle Charlie and the Squeeze Chute of Death. Find more about it in a brief review along with another poem from the CD, “You Can Learn a Lot from a Cowboy,” in a recent post here.

This photo of Stubby is courtesy of Andy Nelson.

This weekend Andy Nelson is at the Western Legends Roundup in Kanab, Utah, along with Jared Rogerson, The Bellamy Brothers, and much more. Sam DeLeeuw oversees cowboy poetry at The Barn at the Parry Lodge.

See Andy next at the 27th annual Old West Days Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering, September 27-30, 2018 in Valentine, Nebraska. He is a featured performer, joining Jean and Gary Prescott, Campfire Concerto with Paul Larson, Chuck Larsen, and Sam Noble.

Find Andy Nelson’s complete schedule and more at cowpokepoet.com.

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

BORN TO THIS LAND by Red Steagall


© Bill Owen, “Born to This Land”  request permission for reproduction


by Red Steagall

I’ve kicked up the hidden mesquite roots and rocks
From the place where I spread out my bed.
I’m layin’ here under a sky full of stars
With my hands folded up ‘neath my head.

Tonight there’s a terrible pain in my heart
Like a knife, it cuts jagged and deep.
This evening the windmiller brought me the word
That my granddaddy died in his sleep.

I saddled my gray horse and rode to a hill
Where when I was a youngster of nine,
My granddaddy said to me, “Son this is ours,
All of it, yours, your daddy’s and mine.

Son, my daddy settled here after the war
That new tank’s where his house used to be.
He wanted to cowboy and live in the west
Came to Texas from east Tennessee.

The longhorns were wild as the deer in them breaks.
With a long rope he caught him a few.
With the money he made from trailin’ em north,
Son, he proved up this homestead for you.

The railroad got closer, they built the first fence
Where the river runs through the east side.
When I was a button we built these corrals
Then that winter my granddaddy died.

My father took over and bought up more range
With good purebreds he improved our stock.
It seemed that the windmills grew out of the ground
Then the land got as hard as a rock.

Then during the dust bowl we barely hung on,
The north wind tried to blow us away.
It seemed that the Lord took a likin’ to us
He kept turnin’ up ways we could stay.

My daddy grew older and gave me more rein,
We’d paid for most all of the land.
By the time he went on I was running more cows
And your daddy was my right hand man.”

His eyes got real cloudy, took off in a trot,
And I watched as he rode out of sight.
Tho I was a child, I knew I was special
And I’m feelin’ that same way tonight

Not many years later my daddy was killed
On a ship in the South China Sea.
For twenty odd years now we’ve made this ranch work
Just two cowboys, my granddad and me.

And now that he’s gone, things are certain to change
And I reckon that’s how it should be.
But five generations have called this ranch home
And I promise it won’t end with me.

‘Cause I’ve got a little one home in a crib
When he’s old enough he’ll understand,
From the top of that hill I’ll show him his ranch
Cause like me, he was Born To This Land.

© 1989, Red Steagall
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

The great Red Steagall is the Official Cowboy Poet of Texas and the past Poet Laureate of Texas, the first “cowboy” poet to hold that honor in decades (Carlos Ashley held the position 1949-1951).

His “Born to This Land,” a standout anthem to the cowboy way, is on his recording, Born to This Land, recipient of the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. We were honored to have it on the first volume of The BAR-D Roundup from CowboyPoetry.com and is included on volume 10, the “best of” double CD.

Red Steagall headlines the 26th annual Old West Days Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering, September 28-October 1, 2017 in Valentine, Nebraska, joined by Chance Dennis, Mikki Daniel, Curt Brummett, Jake Riley, and others. The event also includes Western art, a trade and quilt show, a trail ride, youth poetry contest, and more. Visit oldwestdays.net for schedules, tickets, and more information and find the event on Facebook.

Find more about Red Steagall at CowboyPoetry.com and at RedSteagall.com.

The much loved and respected Bill Owen (1942-2013) of Cowboy Artists of America lent his painting by the same name, “Born to This Land,” for the 2010 Cowboy Poetry Week poster. He and Red Steagall were the closest of friends and he was inspired by the poem.

Bill Owen commented on his painting, “…Fathers often teach the cowboy profession, which includes respect for the land, to their youngsters.” The work depicts a Northern Arizona rancher and his son “seen enjoying each other’s company while waiting for the last few head of cattle to arrive at the hold up.”

Bill Owen also demonstrated his commitment to the next generations through his Arizona Cowpuncher’s Scholarship Organization, which was renamed in his honor, as the Bill Owen, Cowboy Artist, Memorial Scholarship Fund, Inc.

Find more about Bill Owen at CowboyPoetry.com and at billowenca.com.

Thanks to Val Filhouer for her kind permissions.