CUTTIN’ OUT THE CALVES by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

img359

 

CUTTIN’ OUT THE CALVES
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

Well now them purty little calves
has sorter come to grief.
A lot of them is shipped away
and et fer baby beef.
And if they don’t get shipped away
they got to leave their Ma.
They got to quit a drinkin’ milk
and larn to eat and chaw.

But any time a feller thinks
they’re easy separated
He’d orta try and cut ’em out
and he’ll git eddicated.
You caint tell what a calf will do—
he’s allus actin’ crazy.
I’ve often thought, twixt me and you,
his mind was sorta hazy.

But then a old cow ain’t like that.
I needn’t to explain.
I’ve seen some heads in onder hats
that didn’t have her brains.
A crazy calf and foxy cow,
when once you git ’em mixed
I aim to tell you hear and now
can pull a lot of tricks.

They make a cuttin’ pony sweat;
they make a cow boy ride.
They git yore temper overhet
and rile you up inside.
To stop and think it aint so bad,
and afterwards it’s fun.
But man it mostly makes you mad
before you git it done.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, 1933

 

This poem seems a good complement to the previous post. It is an early poem by Kiskaddon, printed in the October, 1933 Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar and illustrated by Katherine Field (1908-1951). It also appeared in the Western Livestock Journal and Kiskaddon’s 1935 book, Western Poems.

Kiskaddon and Field collaborated on works for the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar and the Western Livestock Journal from 1936 to 1942, when she had to stop working to take care of her ailing parents and her children. In 1949 they renewed their partnership. Kiskaddon died in 1950 and had written six-month’s worth of poems in advance. Field illustrated them all before her own death in 1951.The two never met in person.

Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

 

THE CUTTIN’ HOSS by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

20206351_10214216706311278_837656319_n

photo © 2017, April Kelley, request permission to reproduce

 

THE CUTTIN’ HOSS
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

The cuttin’ hoss, I’ve allus said,
was sumpthin’ of a scholar.
He gits idees into his head
that’s mighty hard to foller.
You show him what you aim to cut,
he goes right after that;
He starts it off and moves about
as easy as a cat,
And if the critter doesn’t run,
he takes it nice and slow;
He cuts it out and gits it done
without no fuss or show.

But if some critter has a trick
and thinks that he’s a slicker,
The cuttin’ hoss is jest as slick
and mostly somewhat quicker.
When he works you’ll find fer sartin
it’s a job to stay on top,
‘Cause he’s mighty quick on startin’
and he’s just as quick to stop.
He shore don’t do no shirkin’
when he starts to move around;
He’s got all four corners workin’
when he squats and grabs the ground.

You will find it’s mighty nifty,
how he moves from left to right,
And he’s jest about as shifty
as a boxer in a fight.
He don’t git none fussed nor rattled;
he can jump and dodge and slide;
Fer his job is cuttin’ cattle,
it’s the cowboy’s job to ride.
He’s a shore enough go gitter
and it sometimes has occurred
That he came out with a critter
and the man stayed in the herd.

So when you start a cuttin’,
why you want a horse that’s wise,
And a cowboy, too, that’s sudden up
between the hair and eyes.
It takes a good clean sitter
and you’re never at a loss
If you allus watch the critter
and don’t try to watch the hoss.
Jes you screw down in your saddle;
that old hoss knows what to do,
Fer he savvys cuttin’ cattle
good as any buckaroo.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, 1932

In a 1932 article by Lee Shippey in his “Lee Side o’ L-A” column in the Los Angeles Times, where this poem was featured, he wrote, “Bruce Kiskaddon is a bellhop in the Hayward Hotel. He also is a poet whose verse is featured on the cover page of the Western Livestock Journal, for he used to be a cowboy before he became a bellhop. Harold Bell Wright recently told Nelson Crow, editor of that paper, that one of Bruce’s poems was the finest Western poem he had seen in a long time. And cattlemen who don’t care much for most poetry say that Bruce’s just hits the spot. We hope that Southern California is not yet too unwestern to appreciate Kiskaddon’s verse…”

The poem also appeared in Bruce Kiskaddon’s 1935 book, Western Poems, published by Crow. Find more about Kiskaddon and about Bill Siem’s Open Range, which collects almost all of Kiskaddon’s poetry and much biographical material, in our features at CowboyPoetry.com.

Eighty-five years after the publication of the poem, it’s a pleasure to include this photograph by April Kelley of her daughter Hannah Rose Kelley at the Heguy Ranch on Reminics, practicing for the youth stock horse class at the Elko county fair.

Fourth-generation ranchers and horse trainers Hannah Rose Kelley, 10, and her sister Ruby Jo, 5, are featured on the cover of Western Horseman‘s July issue and in a story inside, “Starting Small,” by Susan Morrison and Kate Bradley Byars. The article tells that Hannah has been “…successful in starting about a dozen minis and ponies so far, as well as a few Quarter Horses.”

April Kelley comments about her daughters, “They learn that hard work pays off. It might not pay off that day, but it might pay off a week later or a month later. And that is really rewarding…” The entire article is worth seeking out.

Thanks to Deanna McCall for putting us in touch with April Kelley.

Theodore Waddell: My Montana—Paintings and Sculpture, 1959-2016

tw

Montana native Theodore Waddell’s works have been said to have “immense, poetic dignity.” A new volume, Theodore Waddell: My Montana—Paintings and Sculpture, 1959-2016 from the University of Oklahoma Press looks at the life and experience that informs his work. Rick Newby relies on letters, journals, and interviews to profile the artist and his craft in this eminently readable work.

It’s not possible to label Waddell’s style, beyond “modern.” Large, impressionistic, abstract, full-yet-minimalist-inspired landscapes dominate his painting. In a foreword, former Montana Congressman Pat Williams writes, “The sparsity of his painting, what he leaves out as well as what he puts in, restores the memories of our visions.” The artist is quoted, “The traditional artists don’t like me because I am not realistic enough, and the contemporary artists don’t like me because I am too realistic.”

A number of essays by critics and friends are included in the book, and rodeo poet and lyricist Paul Zarzyski is one of those friends. In a piece titled “From Captain Woodrow Call to Captain Kirk to Captain Teddy-Bob Waddell of the Wild Cowpoke Wild Brushstroke Wild Cosmos West,” he celebrates Waddell’s contribution to “…what’s left of the iconoclastic un-cloned cowboy West…”

Zaryski appreciates the scale and sense of the work, and comments that “…landscape rules the Western roost for me as a poet, especially as a ‘cowboy poet.'” He describes the impact of the first time he saw the 10’x5’ “Sun River Horses.” He writes, “Instead of my drinking ‘it’ in, the painting swallowed me into its being like a T. Rex ingesting a no-see-um.” An image of the painting later appeared as one of Zarzyski’s book covers.

Waddell’s family history as well as his artistic influences are explored. A generous chapter, “The Ranching and Painting Years,” is a candid look at twenty years of ranching near Molt, Montana. An understanding of the artist’s use of space, texture and color, and the influence of weather come to fore from its pages.

The book is lavishly filled with glorious color images and photographs. The reader is left with a satisfying sense of what drives this unique artist and why his canvases and sculptures are impressive and important.

The book’s many-page index of publications by and about Theodore Waddell follow his career and its reception by the art world. An impressive exhibition history is included, which also lists the numerous permanent collections that hold his art.

Theodore Waddell’s painting, “Sheep #12,” was selected as the poster art for the Western Folklife Center’s 2018 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

elkosheep

Find more about Theodore Waddell at theodorewaddell.com. There’s more on the book and order information at the University of Oklahoma Press and other booksellers.

THE LOST RANGE by Henry Herbert Knibbs (1874-1945)

hhknibbsct

photo: Connecticut State Library, State Archives, PG 460, Colt Patent Fire
Arms Manufacturing Company, Box 2, Folder 7, Item 4

 

THE LOST RANGE
by Henry Herbert Knibbs (1874-1945)

Only a few of us understood his ways
and his outfit queer,
His saddle horse and his pack-horse,
as lean as a winter steer,
As he rode alone on the mesa,
intent on his endless quest,
Old Tom Bright of the Pecos,
a ghost of the vanished West.

His gaze was fixed on the spaces;
he never had much to say
As he jogged from the Rio Grande
to the pueblo of Santa Fè;
He favored the open country
with its reaches clean and wide,
And called it his “sagebrush garden—
the only place left to ride.”

He scorned new methods and manners,
and stock that was under fence,
He had seen the last of the open range,
yet he kept up the old pretense;
Though age made his blue eyes water,
his humor was always dry:
“Me, I’m huntin’ the Lost Range,
down yonder, against the sky.”

That’s what he’d say when we hailed him
as we met him along the trail,
Out from the old pueblo,
packing some rancher’s mail,
In the heat of the upland summer,
in the chill of the thin-spread snow…
Any of us would have staked him,
but Tom would n’t have it so.

He made you think of an eagle
caged up for the folks to see,
Dreaming of crags and sunshine
and glories that used to be:
Some folks said he was loco—
too lazy to work for pay,
But we old-timers knew better,
for Tom was n’t built that way.

He’d work till he got a grub-stake;
then drift, and he’d make his fire,
And camp on the open mesa,
as far as he could from wire:
Tarp and sogun and skillet,
saddle and rope and gun…
And that is the way they found him,
asleep in the noonday sun.

They were running a line for fences,
surveying to subdivide,
And open the land for the homesteads—”
The only place left to ride.”
But Tom he had beat them to it,
he had crossed to The Other Side.

The coroner picked his jury—
and a livery-horse apiece,
Not forgetting some shovel—
and we rode to the Buckman lease,
Rolled Tom up in his slicker,
and each of us said, “So-long.”
Then somebody touched my elbow
and asked for an old-time song.

Tom was n’t strong for parsons—
so we did n’t observe the rules,
But four us sang, “Little Dogies,”
all cryin’—we gray-haired fools:
Wishing that Tom could hear it
and know that we were standing by,
Wishing him luck on the Lost Range,
down yonder, against the sky.

…by Henry Herbert Knibbs, from “Saddle Songs and Other Verse,” 1922

It’s often noted that Henry Herbert Knibbs—known for poems such as “Where the Ponies Come to Drink” and “Boomer Johnson”—was not a cowboy. But Knibbs was not inexperienced with Western life.

Lee Shippey wrote about him in a 1931 article in the Los Angeles Times. He notes that Knibbs was born in the Canadian east, went to Harvard, and had a novel published while he was still a student there. He writes, “…when a man can come out of the East, handicapped by such an un-Western sounding name as Henry Herbert Knibbs, and become a man whose songs and stories are loved by the cow men and prospectors and adventurers of all the Western States, he must have something.”

He continues, “While still a young Canadian he tramped the great Canadian forests and all he asked was a canoe, a pack and a gun and he could supply himself with food and shelter. Later he came down into Maine and had a unwritten contract to supply several lumber camps with fresh meat. He was so successful in that business that a special game warden was assigned the task of catching him in some unlawful act.” He goes on to tell that the warden could never catch Knibbs doing anything wrong, and that Knibbs would sometimes lead him on wild chases. Then one day Knibbs found the warden in medical distress and nursed him back to health. The warden didn’t want to pursue Knibbs after that, and persuaded his superiors to call off the hunt. In fact Knibbs was offered a warden position, but he declined, as he had decided to head for California.

Knibbs headed West, and after some newspaper work, “He built himself a little covered wagon—a spring wagon with a canvas top on it—and set out to see California. For the better part of a year he jogged about, visiting many places where still motor cars cannot go, for good horses and a light wagon could take him to many places where there were no roads.”

It is noted that at the time of the column he had published a number of novels and that five of his stories were made into motion pictures. Shippey writes, “But it is probably that his poems will outlive his prose. For there are many western authors but few poets whose work really appeals to the men of plains and ranges, to cow men and prospectors and those who know life in that vanishing domain which is western in spirit as well as geographically.”

This photo is from the Connecticut State Archives, available through Creative Commons. The caption describes it, “An autographed promotional photo of Henry H. Knibbs in the desert with 2 pack mules and a walking stick in cowboy garb…”

Find more about Knibbs at CowboyPoetry.com.

 

National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur 2017, “On to Greener Pastures”

greenerpastures

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. We know many that are worthy of a poem or a song. In Art Spur, we invite poets and songwriters to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry and songs.

Our 46th piece offered to “spur” the imagination is a special National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur, a photograph from Colorado ranchers and poets Valerie and Floyd Beard, titled “On to Greener Pastures.” Valerie comments, “We were helping the family move the cows that were calving later to another pasture where there would be more feed. It was such a beautiful day in beautiful country in the canyons of Southeastern Colorado.”

Events across America celebrate the thirteenth annual National Day of the Cowboy, Saturday July 22, 2017.

American Cowboy magazine launched the National Day of the Cowboy in 2004. Bethany Braley was involved with that launch and now she heads the National Day of the Cowboy organization, which works year round on the celebration.

Submissions were welcome from all through Wednesday, July 19, 2017.

Thanks to all who participated.

Selected poems are posted below.

Find previous Art Spur subjects here and at CowboyPoetry.com.

greenerpastures

POEMS:

“Market Day,” by Marleen Bussma of Utah
“The Trickster,” by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming
“With Apologies,” by Lynn Kopelke of Washington
“The Boring and Mundane,” by Jeff Campbell of Texas
“The Lord’s Pasture,” by Ol’ Jim Cathey of Texas

 

MARKET DAY
by Marleen Bussma

Hope didn’t leave. It just wore out, ground down by restless wind
that polishes men’s broken dreams. Their spirits bruised and skinned.
Young blades of grass look brown, long past their expiration date.
The land has dropped down to its knees to pray for rain and wait.

Cole puts his truck in neutral after pulling up in line.
His metal wreck-on-wheels coughs, spits, and struggles with a whine.
He hoped this year would turn out kind and give him room to breathe.
Instead, he sees disastrous, looming setbacks that bequeath

a pile of debts to add to last year’s sinking bottom line.
Tough times and disappointments have put iron in his spine.
The winter, like an uninvited guest, had over stayed
and left behind its remnants. Weakened cattle dearly paid.

The snow was like a weapon as it battered and abused.
It crusted over cattle faces ’til their nostrils fused.
The cows were calving in unseasoned cold day after day.
Some newborns didn’t make it, one more loss to mull and weigh.

Harsh, tiring cold arrested, booked, and jailed all ranching life.
Bleak hard work barely paid off and demoralized Cole’s wife.
Those bitter, brutal days locked up in mem’ry and defeat
now move aside to make room for the blazing, blistering heat.

The spring had started well with water from the melting snow,
but rain clouds hold a grudge and move on, like the rodeo.
The sun and wind suck moisture like a calf that’s late for lunch.
The dust hangs like a curtain for a final sucker punch.

Range stock ponds now are craters gaping open for a drink.
All wells, some close to failing, feel the water table sink.
Dry stubborn grass that stuck around is stunted, runty feed.
If rain should come it can’t make up for all the hungry need.

The road into the sales barn crawls with trailers full of stock.
Trucks nestle with their bumpers like LA at four o’clock.
Cole sees his neighbors, like himself, in line to save a dream.
They gamble, selling off cow-calf pairs hoping to redeem

their livelihood next year if nature deals a kinder hand.
They live exposed and vulner’ble to hang on to their land.
It takes a bit of gambler to survive this ranching life.
He’s thankful that he has a partner in his loving wife.

Cole puts his truck in gear and nears the choice he’s made to sell.
He blocks his mind from second guessing. Worries want to swell.
Hope hasn’t left. It lies in wait, perchance to grow and sprout.
A new truck might be in the future if his plans work out.

© 2017, Marleen Bussma
This poem may not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

greenerpastures

THE TRICKSTER
by Jean Mathisen Haugen

It was coming into summer time,
the foothills were spattered with wild flowers—
Indian Paintbrush, bluebells, and sego lilies—
viewing them could take up hours.

But the folks on this little soi’ree
had no time to stop to take a view—
it was time to move the cattle to the mountains
where the grass was fresh and new.

There was quite a herd of black angus
they were pushing up the hills—
blocking up the highway some
and giving the drivers thrills.

But cattle have the right-of-way in Wyoming,
that’s the way it has always been,
and tourists just have to wait a bit
and then move slowly on again.

They had nearly more cowboys than cows,
folks liked to ride along,
from the oldest to the little ones
and some would sing old songs.

But mostly it was, “Git back here,
you muley stubborn cow
and git that calf back with you
and do it here and now!”

My uncle asked my Ma to go—
she’d not done that in years,
borrowed a horse from her father-in-law
and got right back into gear.

Now Grandpa was a trickster,
he liked to job some of the folks,
and make them pay attention close
to avoid some of his jokes.

He loaned Ma an ornery horse,
who seemed tame and didn’t fight,
but now and then she’d turn her head
and try to take a bite!

Ma didn’t appreciate his joking
and it proved to be a long day,
moving cattle up the switchbacks
to Sawmill Creek, which was their way.

She’d cuss that mare
and call her names back several generations,
and shocked some of the folks along,
but she corrected that mare’s gyrations.

She made the ride, the mare settled down
and when Ma got back that day,
Grandpa was grinning by his truck,
thinking this joke was a good way

to settle up some differences
he’d had with his daughter-in-law.
He didn’t know he’d figured wrong
and had well underestimated Ma!

She rode the mare over to him
and that mare tried to take a bite
out of Grandpa’s hind end—
yep, Ma was on the fight.

She climbed down and wagged her finger
right there in the old man’s face,
“Don’t ever pull that on me again!”
and she put him in his place.

Grandpa kinda’ hung his head—
she had ruined all his raptures.
He sold the mare the following day—
before she sent him to greener pastures!

© 2017, Jean Mathisen Haugen
This poem may not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

greenerpastures

WITH APOLOGIES…
by Lynn Kopelke

They’re sorrel. They’re chestnut. They’re bay.
They’re yaller. They’re spotty. They’re gray.
They come in all sizes.
Their looks win no prizes.
When seen they are going away.
It’s not the first end that you meet.
Don’t nuzzle ner git any treats.
Tho’ it does process food
To discuss that is rude
For it’s not the end that eats.
I know they occur naturally.
They’re out there for all to see.
But to be more than fair,
The equine derriere
Is something to strive not to be.

© 2017, Lynn Kopelke
This poem may not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

greenerpastures

THE BORING AND MUNDANE
by Jeff Campbell

In the bright early morn
Moving cattle to green pasture
Just a day in the life
Of a Colorado rancher

The young hand stated
This sure is a bore
Could use some excitement
Shake up this dull chore

The old hand just laughed
Said you got a lot to learn
You’ll appreciate today
When the tables start to turn

Now take this blue sky
It will go dark in a hurry
And whether May or November
It can make this Cowboy worry

The spring thunderstorms
Bring along mud and the rain
Slogging along soaked
Your focus hard to retain

Winter’s bitter wind brings
Freezing ice, deep snow
Makes even a short ride
Feel like miles to go

Then there’s sick cows and calves
Bruised hooves, a lame horse
Wildfires, rattlesnakes
And ole coyotes of course

So enjoy the bright sunshine
The sweet smell of evergreens
The wildflowers blooming
The song the warbler sings

Embrace the uneventful
And try hard not to complain
Cause one day you’re going to miss
All this boring and mundane

© 2017, Jeff Campbell
This poem may not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

greenerpastures

THE LORD’S PASTURE
by Ol’ Jim Cathey

We kicked them blankets an’ hit the floor to greet another day,
‘Course, them aches an’ pains we ignored,
Headin’fer where Cookie’s fire roared,
For that, we quietly thanked the Lord,
His Grace would give us strength an’ courage, to get us on our way.

The wrangler brought the horses in, Pap was there to throw his loop,
We’d call the name of ours to ride,
Pap’s aim an’ skill was undenied,
A lessor job, he’d not abide,
Most all times, yore ride would start with bolt an’ jolt, with shout an’ whoop!

Daybreak brought a crispy morn, we coffeed, then mapped out our plan,
That ol’ windmill shore needs repair,
Mama cows moved to better fare,
Along with salt to get up there,
Just a few of the things to do when yore ridin’ fer the Man.

There’d been a scatterin’ of rain, ’nuff to settle that ol’ dust,
Them ol’ mama cows was trailin’,
Put a bit of dust a sailin’,
‘Cuz that ol’ wind was a wailin’,
So we pulled our hats down tight, an’ faced right into that windy gust.

As we slow but sure make that gradual climb to summer feed,
We often lean in to discuss,
How mama cows depend on us,
To give them care without much fuss
As we watch ‘em close an’ keep ‘em safe… to meet their ever need.

Like how we each hold close to our Lord where ever we may roam,
Just like them cows, we have a need,
But from our sins we have been freed,
He gave His life to intercede,
So we each arrive at the Lord’s pasture, our Heavenly home!

© 2017, Ol’ Jim Cathey

greenerpastures

National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo 2017, August 3-5, 2017, Abilene, Kansas

ncpr

 

From the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo (NCPR):

It’s not too late to put the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo on your calendar. We still have a few spots open in the competition—so visit the website at ncpr.us for rules and entry forms and join us August 3rd after the parade at the Shockey and Landes Building, Abilene, Kansas, for our annual get-together and open mic event.

Then Friday and Saturday mornings until we are done, we start in with the cowboy poetry rodeo competition with free admission. On Saturday afternoon, August 6, 2016, at 4:00 p.m., get your tickets to the Matinee show where the winners will be crowned and perform their winning poetry followed by the Chisholm Trail Western Music Show with Geff Dawson and Cowboy Friends. For more information, visit our web site at ncpr.us. Tickets available online.

Take time to see all the sights in Abilene and the area while you are in Kansas. You can see one of the biggest free fairs and rodeo in the Midwest, the Central Kansas Free Fair and Wild Bill Hickok PRCA Rodeo while you are there, plus many, many more attractions. Some of our contestants and judges will be performing during the rodeo each night so don’t miss it!

Don’t miss eating at the Brookeville Hotel where they serve family-style fried chicken dinners. If you would like to come as a contestant or a spectator, contact Geff Dawson, geff.b@ranchcowboy.com or call 785-456-4494 and we will get you hooked up. You’re not going to want to miss this event. We have several special guests coming to judge and entertain, and contestants can win thousands of dollars and prizes. Entries are open now.

Many poets who have participated in the NCPR have had high praise for the experience, including Yvonne Hollenbeck, Doris Daley, Linda Kirkpatrick, DW Groethe, Janice Gilbertson, Andy Nelson, the late Pat Richardson, and others. A celebration of “excellence through competition,” many lasting friendships are made at the NCPR.

Find more about the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo on Facebook; at CowboyPoetry.com; and at the NCPR web site, ncpr.us.

This photo shows the 2016 contestants and judges.

 

SHE SADDLES HER OWN HORSE by Marleen Bussma

mbsaddlecd

 

SHE SADDLES HER OWN HORSE
by Marleen Bussma

It’s forty miles from nowhere as the night wind sighs and sings.
It teases the thermometer that wavers, wilts, then wrings
all heat from sky and land that shivers, though it’s springtime’s start.
Now twenty-two below, the moon shines with just half a heart.

Cold Levis on the chair slip over long-johns warm from bed.
Kate staggers as she stumbles to get dressed and clear her head.
It’s 3:00 A.M. and time to check the calving shed’s penned herd.
She fights the wind through darkness. She’s the only thing that’s stirred.

Tonight she is the mid-wife with a flashlight’s extra eye.
It flicks across the red backs in the stalls they occupy.
Kate hears the heavy panting of a heifer hard at work.
She’s lying in the straw. Each quiver has become a jerk.

Kate’s witnessed birth a hundred times, a ranching genesis.
She cherishes the part she plays and doesn’t think of this
as business, but a way of life. She thrives on the demands,
the rhythm of the seasons, and hard work done with her hands.

The heifer bellows. Eyes are pools of panic, angst, and pain.
She thrashes with her head, casts spools of drool out to complain.
Two tiny cloven hooves appear and then a little nose.
A wet slick body slips out in the afterbirth that flows.

The heifer looks behind her with eyes wide in great surprise.
Kate grabs a gunny sack to briskly rub and scrutinize
this wet, dependent critter that begins to breathe and move.
Kate places it near mother’s nose and hopes she will approve.

The cow lows softly, gives a lick, then rises to her feet.
With hind legs first, the recent mother slowly stands to greet
and nuzzle, lick and nudge, all part of life’s age-old routine.
A wash-rag tongue caresses, laps, until the newborn’s clean.

As sturdy as a worn-out shoe, four fickle feet aspire
to get a grip then stand up stiff and firm, just like barbed-wire.
The jelly-legs give out and rest a minute on the ground.
He tries again and takes some steps to mother where he’s found

an udder filled with what he needs, an in-house drink buffet.
He gives a nose-bump, starts to suck, and lunch is on its way.
The sky is growing light and pushes darkness to the west.
Fatigue is etched around Kate’s eyes and shows that she needs rest.

She’s wearing blobs of cow-crud, splattered with mysterious spots,
decides to take a breather in the cow-shed where she squats.
Her eyes are closed. Her head leans forward with Mixmaster hair.
She’s dirty, rank, and smelly, but she’s sure her horse won’t care.

This ranch has been her life and she knows how to make it run.
A ride across the hills is gold, like dancing in the sun.
Kate shuns the busyness of town; just give her life that’s plain.
She’ll take this young calf’s romping and a summer’s inch of rain.

© 2017, Marleen Bussma
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

 
Marleen Bussma has a new CD, Saddle Up for Cowboy Poetry, which includes this poem.

Marleen comments, “Much has been written about men on the ranch. Since the days of homesteading, women in the west have rolled up their sleeves to carve out a life on the land. Some have worked beside their husbands, while others have been on their own. The subject of this poem is a composite of all the women who have ridden a horse while doing their daily chores.”

MBrave2

About Marleen:

Marleen grew up on a farm in North Dakota.  Her adult life has taken her away from those daily chores, but her heart still lies in the land of the meadowlark.  She has put together many verses on the plight of the women of the west from frontier days to modern farm and ranch times.  She wants to be that cowboy coming into camp for a fresh horse.  She understands the struggle to deal with Mother Nature.  She feels at home where her stories take place.

You can find out more about Marleen, her new CD, Saddle Up for Cowboy Poetry, and her award winning book, Is She Country?, on her website marleenbussma.com.

Marleen will be joining the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering October 5th – 8th, 2017.