A BUSTED COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS, by D.J. O’Malley 1868-1884

bustedcowboypic2018

Image: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives,
Helena, MT: 944-212  D.J. O’Malley (Kid White) taken in Forsyth, Montana 1897,
photographer unknown. Catalog # 944-212

A BUSTED COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS
by D.J. O’Malley 1868-1884

I am a busted cowboy
And I work upon the range,
In summertime I get some work,
But one thing which seems strange,
As soon as fall work’s over
I get it in the neck
I get a Christmas present
Of a neatly written check.

I come to town to rusticate,
I’ve no place else to stay
When winter winds are howling hard
Because I don’t eat hay.
A puncher’s life’s a picnic?
It is one continual joke.
But there’s none more anxious to see spring
Than the cowboy who is broke.

The wages that a cowhand earns
In summer goes like smoke,
And when the snow begins to drift
You bet your neck he’s broke.
You may talk about your holidays,
Your Christmas cheer and joy,
They’re all the same to me, my friend.
Cash gone, I’m a broke cowboy.

My saddle and my gun in soak,
My spurs I’ve long since sold,
My rawhide and my quirt are gone,
My chaps, no. They’re too old.
My outfit’s gone, I can’t e’en bum
A cigarette to smoke.
For no one cares what happens
To a cowboy who is broke.

Just where I’ll eat my dinner
This Christmas, I don’t know,
But you can bet your life I’ll have one
If I get but half a show.
This Christmas holds no charms for me,
On good things I’ll not choke,
Unless I get a big handout
I’m a cowboy who is broke.

…D. J. O’Malley, 1893

We’re celebrating the 20th annual Christmas at the BAR-D.

D.J. O’Malley was born in San Angelo, Texas, in 1868. He worked on the open range for nearly 20 years, starting in Montana in 1884.

The University of Arizona’s Cowboy Songs and Singers: of Lifeways and Legend site comments on this poem: “This was written on a winter night after Mr. O’Malley had been parted from $2 by a fellow with a long spiel. He says that at that time there were many ‘summer hands’ or ‘mail order cowboys.’ They were only good enough to fill in as herders or extras during roundup time, but when they told it around the stove in winter they were all ‘top hands.’ The poem appeared in the Stock Growers’ Journal on December 23, 1893. It was signed Iyam B. Usted.”

See their collection of poems about D.J. O’Malley and commentary about him by John I. White.

Find more about the poem and about D.J. O’Malley at CowboyPoetry.com in our feature that includes selections of his poetry and prose.

This photograph of D.J. O’Malley is from the Montana Historical Society, used with permission. Credit: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, MT: 944-212 D.J. O’Malley (Kid White) taken in Forsyth, Montana 1897, photographer unknown. Catalog # 944-212

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photograph with this post, but permission is required from the Montana Historical Society for this image. The poem is in the public domain.)

A BUSTED COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS by D.J. O’Malley 1868-1943

djo

A BUSTED COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS
by D.J. O’Malley 1868-1943

I am a busted cowboy
And I work upon the range,
In summertime I get some work,
But one thing which seems strange,
As soon as fall work’s over
I get it in the neck
I get a Christmas present
Of a neatly written check.

I come to town to rusticate,
I’ve no place else to stay
When winter winds are howling hard
Because I don’t eat hay.
A puncher’s life’s a picnic?
It is one continual joke.
But there’s none more anxious to see spring
Than the cowboy who is broke.

The wages that a cowhand earns
In summer goes like smoke,
And when the snow begins to drift
You bet your neck he’s broke.
You may talk about your holidays,
Your Christmas cheer and joy,
They’re all the same to me, my friend.
Cash gone, I’m a broke cowboy.

My saddle and my gun in soak,
My spurs I’ve long since sold,
My rawhide and my quirt are gone,
My chaps, no. They’re too old.
My outfit’s gone, I can’t e’en bum
A cigarette to smoke.
For no one cares what happens
To a cowboy who is broke.

Just where I’ll eat my dinner
This Christmas, I don’t know,
But you can bet your life I’ll have one
If I get but half a show.
This Christmas holds no charms for me,
On good things I’ll not choke,
Unless I get a big handout
I’m a cowboy who is broke.

…D. J. O’Malley, 1893

D.J. O’Malley was born in San Angelo, Texas, in 1868. He worked on the open range for nearly 20 years, starting in Montana in 1884.

The University of Arizona’s Cowboy Songs and Singers: of Lifeways and Legend site comments on this poem: “This was written on a winter night after Mr. O’Malley had been parted from $2 by a fellow with a long spiel. He says that at that time there were many ‘summer hands’ or ‘mail order cowboys.’ They were only good enough to fill in as herders or extras during roundup time, but when they told it around the stove in winter they were all ‘top hands.’ The poem appeared in the Stock Growers’ Journal on December 23,1893. It was signed Iyam B. Usted.”

See their collection of poems about D.J. O’Malley and commentary about him by John I. White here.

Find more about the poem and about D.J. O’Malley at CowboyPoetry.com in our feature that includes selections of his poetry and prose.

This photograph of D.J. O’Malley is from the Montana Historical Society, used with permission. Credit: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, MT: 944-212 D.J. O’Malley (Kid White) taken in Forsyth, Montana 1897, photographer unknown. Catalog # 944-212

(Please respect copyright. Permission is required from the Montana Historical Society for this image. The poem is in the public domain.)

A BUSTED COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS by D.J. O’Malley 1868-1884

djo

A BUSTED COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS
by D.J. O’Malley 1868-1884

I am a busted cowboy
And I work upon the range,
In summertime I get some work,
But one thing which seems strange,
As soon as fall work’s over
I get it in the neck
I get a Christmas present
Of a neatly written check.

I come to town to rusticate,
I’ve no place else to stay
When winter winds are howling hard
Because I don’t eat hay.
A puncher’s life’s a picnic?
It is one continual joke.
But there’s none more anxious to see spring
Than the cowboy who is broke.

The wages that a cowhand earns
In summer goes like smoke,
And when the snow begins to drift
You bet your neck he’s broke.
You may talk about your holidays,
Your Christmas cheer and joy,
They’re all the same to me, my friend.
Cash gone, I’m a broke cowboy.

My saddle and my gun in soak,
My spurs I’ve long since sold,
My rawhide and my quirt are gone,
My chaps, no. They’re too old.
My outfit’s gone, I can’t e’en bum
A cigarette to smoke.
For no one cares what happens
To a cowboy who is broke.

Just where I’ll eat my dinner
This Christmas, I don’t know,
But you can bet your life I’ll have one
If I get but half a show.
This Christmas holds no charms for me,
On good things I’ll not choke,
Unless I get a big handout
I’m a cowboy who is broke.

…D. J. O’Malley, 1893

D.J. O’Malley was born in San Angelo, Texas, in 1868. He worked on the open range for nearly 20 years, starting in Montana in 1884.

The University of Arizona’s Cowboy Songs and Singers: of Lifeways and Legend site comments on this poem: “This was written on a winter night after Mr. O’Malley had been parted from $2 by a fellow with a long spiel. He says that at that time there were many ‘summer hands’ or ‘mail order cowboys.’ They were only good enough to fill in as herders or extras during roundup time, but when they told it around the stove in winter they were all ‘top hands.’ The poem appeared in the Stock Growers’ Journal on December 23,
1893. It was signed Iyam B. Usted.”

See their collection of poems about D.J. O’Malley and commentary about him by John I. White here.

Find more about the poem and about D.J. O’Malley at CowboyPoetry.com in our feature that includes selections of his poetry and prose.

This photograph of D.J. O’Malley is from the Montana Historical Society, used with permission. Credit: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, MT: 944-212 D.J. O’Malley (Kid White) taken in Forsyth, Montana 1897, photographer unknown. Catalog # 944-212

(Please respect copyright. Permission is required from the Montana Historical Society for this image. The poem is in the public domain.)

THE “D2” HORSE WRANGLER by D.J. O’Malley (1867-1943)

djo

THE “D2” HORSE WRANGLER
by D.J. O’Malley (1867-1943)

One day I thought I’d have some fun,
And see how punching cows was done;
So, when the roundup had begun,
I tackled a cattle king.
Says he: “My foreman is in town,
He’s at the MacQueen, his name is Brown,
Go over, and I think he’ll take you down.”
Says I: “That’s just the thing.”

We started for the ranch next day,
Brown talked to me ‘most all the way;
He said cowpunching was only fun,
It was no work at all;
That all I had to do was ride,
It was just like drifting with the tide,
Geemany chimany, how he lied;
He surely had his gall.

He put me in charge of a cavvy-yard
And told me not to work too hard,
That all I had to do was guard
The horses from getting away.
I had one hundred and sixty head,
And oft’ times wished that I were dead,
When one got away Brown got red,
Now this is the truth, I say.

Sometimes a horse would make a break
Across the prairies he would take
As though he were running for a stake,
For him it was only play.
Sometimes I couldn’t head him at all
And again my saddle horse would fall
And I’d speed on like a cannon ball
Till the earth came in my way.

They led me out an old gray hack
With a great big set fast on his back,
They padded him up with gunny sacks
And used my bedding all.
When I got on he left the ground,
Jumped up in the air and turned around,
I busted the earth as I came down,
It was a terrible fall.

They picked me up and carried me in
And rubbed me down with a rolling pin;
“That’s the way they all begin,
You are doing well,” says Brown,
“And tomorrow morning, if you don’t die,
I’ll give you another horse to try.”
“Oh! won’t you let me walk?” says I,
“Yes,” says he, “into town.”

I’ve traveled up and I’ve traveled down,
I’ve traveled this country all around,
I’ve lived in city, I’ve lived in town,
And I have this much to say:
Before you try it go kiss your wife,
Get a heavy insurance on your life,
Then shoot yourself with a butcher knife,—
It’s far the easiest way.

…by D.J. O’Malley, 1894

“The D-2 Horse Wrangler was” first published in 1894 in the Miles City Stock Grower’s Journal.

D. J. O’Malley was born in San Angelo, Texas, in 1868, and put in nearly a score of years on the open range. He started cowboying in Montana in 1884.

His career as a cowboy poet began in 1889 when he penned “To the Memory of Wiley Collins” about a chuck wagon cook who was killed by lightning. Over the next half century, he wrote many poems and stories about the men and the work he knew, often using the pen name “N Bar N Kid White.”

In a 1967 article in the Journal of American Folkore, John I. White writes:

The most persistent contributor of original verses to the Journal was Dominick J. O’Malley ( 1867-1943), who, at the age of fifteen, following the disappearance of his soldier-stepfather from Fort Keogh adjacent to Miles City, had gone to work as a horse wrangler for the Home Land & Cattle Company, operated by the Niedringhaus Brothers. In a very short time the young wrangler with a flair for versifying had become proficient at the cowpuncher’s unique and often dangerous trade, which he followed for nearly twenty years. Three trips up the trail with Texas cattle bound for northern ranges, the last in 1891, were among his unusual experiences.

Read more at CowboyPoetry.com.

Top reciter Ross Knox includes “The D-2 Horse Wrangler” on his CD, Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day, and that recording is included on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Three from CowboyPoetry.com:

This photograph of D.J. O’Malley is from the Montana Historical Society, used with permission.

Photo credit:  Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, MT: 944-212 D.J. O’Malley (Kid White) taken in Forsyth, Montana 1897, photographer unknown. Catalog # 944-212.

(Please respect copyright. You can use this poem and photograph with this post, but permission is required from the Montana Historical Society for this image. The poem is in the public domain.)