Floyd Traynor, 1944-2017

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We were sad to learn of the death of poet Floyd Traynor, 72,  on August 12, 2017.

A Facebook remembrance page notes that Floyd had servered as a County Mapper, Flood Plain Manager, and Rural Addressing Co-ordinator at New Mexico’s Grant County Courthouse. There are many tributes at the Facebook page.

His 2015 bio at CowboyPoetry.com tells:

Floyd was raised on a ranch at Mule Creek, New Mexico. Four generations of his family have cowboyed on the Arizona-New Mexico border. He learned his skills from old-time hands and vaqueros. A graduate of NMSU, he has built fence, pulled wells, and hauled feed on ranches from the Mexican border to the panhandle of Texas. He has been writing poetry since he was seven years old.

An employee of Grant County, New Mexico for 14 years, Floyd sold his saddle and retired to Turkey, Texas in January of 2015 with his partner, Radna Proctor. He admits his saddle had gathered a lot of dust. Writing poetry and songs has helped fill some lonely hours along the trail of life.

Floyd is past chairman of the New Mexico Cowboy Poetry Gathering held in Silver City, and has recited in several gatherings in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. He believes it is important to keep our western heritage intact for future generations

Find a poem by Floyd Traynor at CowboyPoetry.com.

BORN TO THIS LAND by Red Steagall

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

 

BORN TO THIS LAND
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.

 

DUNDER DEFINING by Buck Ramsey 1938-1998

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© 1993, Kent Reeves; request permission for use

 

DUNDER DEFINING
by Buck Ramsey 1938-1998

(Being a one-sided conversation with the Kid about his daddy)

“Yeah he’d be called a ‘daisy hand’
If this was bygone days
Before the meanings changed their names
And cowboys changed their ways.

“Those punchers out of real old rock
And of the long, long shadow,
Those graduates of the camp and trail
Who shunned the fenced-in meadow

“When all the range was grass-side up
And all the cows wore horns—
They’d call your dad a ‘ranahan’
Well to the leather born.”

Old Dunder, augering the Kid,
Was brushing on the paint
In strokes that made the Fiddle look
A downright cowboy saint.

He paused, and then commenced to rake
His hand across his whiskers,
But realized that rasp he grew
Might raise some awful blisters.

He soothed his palm upon his knee
And gazed the air a hole
And gave the Kid the look that showed
The secrets of his soul.

“You set out definin’ you’re ridin’ for boggin’—
There’s not a pure way to describe
The reason and rhyme of the cowpuncher callin’,
The jist of the cowpucher tribe.

“But say we start up with an idy of Santee—
Like Russell, a cowpuncher saint—
The best you can say is, he’s good to his horses,
The worst you can say is, he ain’t.

The kind out of old rock and of the long shadow—
Your daddy is of the same leather—
You’d say of his makin’s his water runs deep,
And he’d do with to ride the wild river.

“You can’t call his rank by the crease of his hat,
By his get-up, now matter how fine.
You go by the moves that he makes on his horse—
Is he in the right place the right time?

He knows what the mother cow says to her calf,
He’s a regular Webster on cattle,
He hears what the wind says and listens to grass—
He’s plumb simply at home in the saddle.”

© Buck Ramsey, used with permission
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

Buck Ramsey’s friend, rancher and poet Darin Brookman, has written,”Buck Ramsey was a cowboy, musician, poet and historian. He had a definite opinion on most subjects and a gentle nature that made you want to hear them. In the ranks of cowboy poets and singers, he was our leader and our conscience.” Hal Cannon, Founding Director of the Western Folklife Center, named Buck Ramsey cowboy poetry’s “spiritual leader.”

A biography at the National Endowments for the Arts tells about the accident, when he was just 25 years old, that confined him to a wheelchair. They write that Buck Ramsey, “…worked as a cowboy and rough rider on the big ranches along the Canadian River. In 1963, while he was working on the Alibates Division of the Coldwater Cattle Company, a bit shank snapped and the spoiled horse Ramsey was riding threw him to the ground. What he later called ‘just landing wrong’ left him paralyzed and in a wheelchair for the remainder of his life.”

His life and art continue to inspire and his work continues to be recited, sung, and celebrated. Buck Ramsey was a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow. His recordings were awarded two Western Heritage Wrangler Awards from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Andy Hedges has a fine recitation of this poem in the current episode of his COWBOY CROSSROADS podcast. His guest, Chuck Hawthorne, has some Buck Ramsey
stories.

Find more about Buck Ramsey on Facebook at the Buck Ramsey Memorial Page,
and in features at CowboyPoetry.com, which includes poetry, reminiscences, and more.

This photograph of Buck Ramsey is by Kent Reeves, Cowboy Conservationist & Photographer. It appeared in the landmark book, Between Earth and Sky: Poets of the Cowboy West, by Anne Heath Widmark, with photographs by Kent Reeves. This photograph, made in the spring of 1993, shows Buck Ramsey visiting the one-room school house he attended as a boy.

Find more about Kent Reeves at CowboyPoetry.com; his site,
cowboyconservation.com; and on Facebook.

Thanks to Bette Ramsey for her generous permission.

Donors

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celebrates our Western heritage and today’s working West, dedicated to preserving our important history and to promoting the Western arts that carry on those traditions.  It’s a part of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry.

The Center was formed to serve a mostly rural and underserved community of Western writers, musicians, and artists; to help preserve Western and Cowboy Poetry and its associated arts; to offer a central resource for poets, libraries, schools, and the public; and to educate the public about the history and value of Western and Cowboy Poetry and its associated arts.

Supporters make a difference. With individual support, the Center can continue its programs, expand some of those efforts, and take on new projects. Individual support helps show institutional funders the community interest in our Western arts.

We thank our supporters, who are listed below. They make an important difference to the community of Western writers, musicians, and artists as we work together to preserve Western heritage and support Western and Cowboy Poetry and its associated arts. Please join us.

2017

The BAR-D supporters make all of the programs of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry possible: Cowboy Poetry Week, the Rural Library Program, and CowboyPoetry.com.

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National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo (sponsor)
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Significant 2017 and 2018 program support: Laura and Edmund Wattis Littlefield Jr.

Cowboy Poetry Week 2017 Foundation support: Margaret T. Morris Foundation

VISIT OUR SPONSORS

See all of the generous supporters to the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry below and find how to  be a part of it all here.

2016

The BAR-D supporters make all of the programs of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry possible: Cowboy Poetry Week, the Rural Library Program, and CowboyPoetry.com.

National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo (sponsor)
Eileen Dirksen
Denise Arvidson
Joanne Grinage
Dee Strickland Johnson (“Buckshot Dot”)
Santa Clarita Cowboy Gathering (sponsor)
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Jim Thompson (California)
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C.W. (Charles) Bell
Wendy Brown-Barry
Ken Cook (renewing Sponsor)
Saddle Up at Pigeon Forge (renewing Sponsor)
Douglas Gustafson
Susie Knight
Yvonne and Glen Hollenbeck (multiple donations) donations in memory of Ray Hanzlik,
Jess Howard, Pat Richardson, and Jack Walther
Cindy Quigley
Cowboy Poets of Idaho (renewing Sponsor)
Marleen Bussma
David Stanley
Terry Nash
H. Paul Moon-WESTDOCUMENTARY.COM
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Denise Arvidson in Memory of Ross Christian Arvidson
RANGE (renewing Sponsor)
Jean Haugen
Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival (renewing Sponsor)
Stella and Jim Cathey in memory of Jack “Trey” Allen and Ronnie G. Murphey
Kent Penter
Jon Dean
Stella and Jim Cathey in memory of Ed Nesselhuf
Ron Secoy
Western Folklife Center (renewing Sponsor)
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Significant 2016 program support: Laura and Edmund Wattis Littlefield Jr.

Cowboy Poetry Week 2016 Foundation support: Margaret T. Morris Foundation

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See all of the generous supporters to the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry below and find how to  be a part of it all here.

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TO THE OLD TIMES by Chris Isaacs

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TO THE OLD TIMES
by Chris Isaacs

Me and my pards, Bud and Beaver
Were havin’ a cold one down at the Pines.
We’d been to the show and watched the short go
We were just catchin’ up on old times

When this kid walked in with a swagger
That told the whole bar he was there.
Hat cocked to one side, he was plum full of pride;
Just let all of the gunsels beware.

His thumbs slid back behind his new buckle
As he hollered, “The drinks are on me.
I rode a bad one tonight, removed all of his fight
And I’m startin’ right now on a spree.”

We just looked at each other and grinned
As we remembered those days gone by
When we were the ones who were having the fun;
“Let er’ buck” was our standard war cry.

But I think that the grins were a cover.
A mask that could hide something more;
So no one could see that these old devotees
Were wishin’ time hadn’t shuttered the door.

‘Cuz it’s a door that cannot be left gaping.
Once it’s closed it won’t open again.
It’s forever shut tight tho’ you try with your might
The trying could just drive you insane.

But there’s one saving grace; a solution!
It’s a way to help ease the despair.
It’s those old “memories” that help us to see
The good times that are no longer there.

And I looked at Bud and ol’ Beaver
And they were both smiling thru tears
Thinkin’ back when we did the same as that kid,
As we remembered back thru the years.

So pards, let’s raise a glass to old memories,
To the good times and all the old friends.
And though those days are gone, the memories live on;
In our dreams those days never end.

© 2016, Chris Isaacs
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without the author’s permission.

Cowboy, packer, and popular poet and humorist Chris Isaacs also shared this photo above of himself with “Ol’ Cowboy,” which he says was “taken somewhere between Yarnell and Skull Valley, Arizona in March 1977.

See Chris next at the 29th annual National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration in Lubbock, Texas, September 8-10, 2017. He joins headliners Mary Kaye, Pipp Gillette, and Craig Carter along with “…cowboy poets, musicians, storytellers, artists, historians, authors, editors, publishers, exhibitors, horse trainers, re-enactors, photographers, chuck wagon cooks, honest-to-goodness cowboys and many more…” Find more about the event at cowboy.org.

Chris Isaacs has a recent book, Scattered Memories: Cowboy Wit and Wisdom. In her foreword to the book, Shannon Keller Rollins (of the Red River Ranch Chuck Wagon along with Kent Rollins) calls it, “Your feel-good pocket guide to life.” Find more about Chris Isaacs in a feature at CowboyPoetry.com and at his site, chrisisaacs.com.

NO REST FOR THE HORSE anonymous

Since every day is Labor Day in the ranching world, here’s a tribute to another sort of tireless worker:

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NO REST FOR THE HORSE
author anonymous

There’s a union for teamster and waiter,
There’s a union for cabman and cook,
There’s a union for hobo and preacher,
And one for detective and crook.

There’s a union for blacksmith and painter,
There is one for the printer, of course;
But where would you go in this realm of woe,
To discover a guild for the horse?

He can’t make a murmur in protest,
Though they strain him both up and down hill,
Or force him to work twenty hours
At the whim of some drunken brute’s will.

Look back at our struggle for freedom—
Trace our present day’s strength to its source,
And you’ll find that man’s pathway to glory,
Is strewn with the bones of the horse.

The mule is a fool under fire;
The horse, although frightened, stands true,
And he’d charge into hell without flinching
‘Twixt the knees of the trooper he knew.

When the troopers grow old they are pensioned,
Or a berth or a home for them found;
When a horse is worn out they condemn him,
And sell him for nothing a pound.

Just think, the old pet of some trooper
Once curried and rubbed twice a day,
Now drags some damned ragpicker’s wagon,
With curses and blows for his pay.

I once knew a grand king of racers,
The best of a cup-wining strain;
They ruined his knees on a hurdle,
For his rider’s hat covered no brain.

I met him again, four years later,
On his side at the foot of a hill,
With two savages kicking his ribs,
And doing their work with a will.

I stroked the once velvety muzzle,
I murmured the old name again,
He once filled my purse with gold dollars;
And this day I bought him for ten.

His present address is “Sweet Pastures,”
He has nothing to do but eat,
Or loaf in the shade on the green, velvet grass,
And dream of the horses he beat.

Now, a dog—well, a dog has a limit;
After standing for all that’s his due,
He’ll pack up his duds some dark evening,
And shine out for scenes which are new.

But a horse, once he’s used to his leather,
Is much like the old-fashioned wife;
He may not be proud of his bargain,
But still he’ll be faithful through life.

And I envy the merciful teamster
Who can stand at the bar and say:
“Kind Lord, with the justice I dealt my horse,
Judge Thou my soul today.”

…Anonymous

Most are familiar with this poem from respected horseman Randy Rieman’s outstanding recitation. Randy’s source for the poem was Songs of Horses, an anthology edited by Robert Frothingham (1865-1937) in 1920. (Find links to digitized versions of the book here.

We also found the same “No Rest for the Horse” poem under a different title, “To a Quiet But Useful Class,” in a 1902 edition of Life magazine. There is no author attributed in that instance, either. You can see the poem in that Life magazine in an edition that has been digitized by Google Book Search, on page 488.

This c. 1910 photo is titled, “Harvesting machine pulled by 32 horses in Spokane, Washington.” The photo is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more here.

This poem and photograph are in the public domain.

RANCH HORSES by Mike Moutoux

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photo ©Mike Moutoux, “Jason and Gray: holding cows
near Silver City, New Mexico,” request permission for use

RANCH HORSES
by Mike Moutoux

Ranch horses lead a different kind of life
They aren’t coddled much with barns and special feed
A lean-to, some grain on days they’re working
Some new shoes now and then is all they need

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t special, not at all
It just means they aren’t a bunch of pampered pets
So, they fend for themselves when they aren’t workin’
A day off now and then’s about all they get

Don’t get me wrong; they’re more than beasts of burden
They make a ranch complete in many a way
Horse add a bit of class; a sort of equine grace
I’m reminded of this fact two times a day

Morning is the first times that I see it
As liquid light first plays along the rim
A soft nicker from the shadows and another
Tells me the ranch remuda is comin’ in

Silhouettes appear then, almost noble in my mind
One or two will glance my way as we pass
The day has just begun, and there’s your proof
That this ranch has got itself some real class

There’s something in the way they hold their heads up
A softness and alertness in every eye
You can sense the power, and yet restraint
In the way they give me room as they pass by

Evening is the other time I sense the magic
If I linger at the corrals it comes again
A thin cloud of dust above the yuccas
Means the horses—ranch horses, are comin’ in

Even on the hottest days of June and July
When summer sweat and dust streak my sunburned face
The horses file by with their tales keepin’ time
In that easy flowin’ state of equine grace

There’s a rhythm in their footsteps I admire
A synchronicity they show at any gait
So I linger now and then in the evening
A state of grace is my reward if I just wait

Now, I cowboy for all the obvious reasons
Grace and class are a just a bonus now and then
Twice a day, I look for one or the other
And find it in the horses a-comin’ in

© 2013, Mike Moutoux
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

New Mexico cowboy, poet, and songwriter Mike Moutoux comments, “The poem is just my way of honoring the many ranch horses that are hard-working integral parts of ranching. The ones I’ve ridden aren’t pampered much, love to work cattle and generally got me home safe. Some of the best hours in my life have been spent riding a ranch horse somewhere working cattle.”

See and hear “Ranch Horses” on Mike’s YouTube channel.

There’s more about him at CowboyPoetry.com, on Facebook, and at mikemoutoux.com, which includes his performance schedule and occasional “Ranch Notes.”

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photo ©Mike Moutoux;, “Roger Moyers roping at the Huston Ranch, New Mexico,” request permission for use

 

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photo ©Mike Moutoux;, “Owen Young roping at Huston Ranch, New Mexico,” request permission for use