by Jane Morton
My mother always called, “Yoo-hoo,”
so we would look her way.
She did it at the sale barn
one cattle auction day.
Dad brought his cows to market there,
as he did every spring.
He liked to watch the auction
and his cattle in the ring.
Some Hereford cows were milling round,
and others bawling loud.
The auctioneer was trying hard
to stir the morning crowd.
My folks were in their usual seat
where they had said they’d be,
And I had started toward them
when my mother spotted me.
She jumped up quick and called, “Yoo-hoo,”
and then she waved her hand.
She’d bid on thirty Herefords
with our own CU brand.
The auctioneer looked toward my mom
and gave a little nod.
A feedlot buyer raised her bid,
and I was thanking God.
I didn’t dare to signal her
for fear they’d think I’d bid,
And Mom had no idea at all
of what she almost did.
So needing to get down there fast,
I headed for the stair.
Then came another, “You-hoo Yo-ooooo,”
that caught me unaware.
I’d almost closed the distance
when my mother waved once more.
The auctioneer acknowledged her,
the way he had before.
I watched the feedlot buyer
as I slipped into my seat,
And when the fellow didn’t bid,
my heart near ceased to beat.
My dad sat focused on the ring
Of all the action going on
right there beside his chair.
From up in back there came a bid,
and I could breathe again.
I prayed the field had narrowed
down to real cattle men.
I took Mom’s hand soon as I could
and held it tight in mine.
I said, “How are you doin’, Mom?”
She said, “I’m doin’ fine.”
Now Mom had been to auctions,
and she knew what not to do.
Of course a real no no would have been
to call, “Yoo-hoo.”
But Mom forgot herself that day
and learned to her chagrin
How close she came to buyin’
back the cows that Dad brought in.
When Dad caught on he realized,
as he had not before,
That thanks to Mom his cattle brought
a buck a hundred more.
© 2008, Jane Morton
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission
Jane Morton often writes about her family’s ranch history, which began with her great great grandfather, a circuit-riding Baptist minister who left Illinois and headed to Colorado in 1872. Generations later, her mother, Eva Lena Ambrose, was surprised to discover that her husband, a teacher and coach, was determined to return to the family farm that eventually became the family ranch. Her mother faced a harder-than-expected life with dignity.
Colorado poet Jane Morton is no longer writing or reciting, but her work continues to inspire. She has award-winning books and a CD of her poetry. Don’t miss reading more of her poems about her family and their ranch history at cowboypoetry.com.
This 1939 photo by Russell Lee is titled, “Scene in cattle auction barn. Heifer is coming in from pen. San Augustine, Texas.” It is from Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, part of the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection.
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.
(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but for other uses, please request permission. The photo is in the public domain.)
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