TYRONE AND TYREE by Jay Snider

sss121615

photo © 2016, Sandy Seaton Sallee

TYRONE AND TYREE
by Jay Snider

I’ve learned lots of lessons
’bout cowboyin’ up
’cause I’ve been a cowboy
since I was a pup

And my dad taught me
just like his dad taught him
rewards without effort
come seldom and slim

And if workin’ for wages
or bossin’ a crew
a job left half finished
reflects upon you

And good leaders of men
who while bossin’ the crew
won’t ask of their men
what they wouldn’t do

‘Cause men are just men
and it’s by God’s design
we all pull on our britches
one leg at a time

But some men are leaders
while others hold back
they stray off the trail
and are hard to untrack

But with proper persuasion
will likely fall in
’cause that’s just the nature
Of hosses and men

Which put me to thinkin’
’bout Tyrone and Tyree
the best team of Belgians
you ever did see

Why they’d lay in those collars
and pull stride for stride
work sunup to sundown
till the day that they died

But Tyree would get balky
not pull like he should
so Tyrone would reach over
and scold him right good

Then the load they were pullin’
would even right out
that’s the lesson in life
that I’m talkin’ about

‘Cause some hosses are leaders
while some will pull back
they’ll stray off the trail
and are hard to untrack

But with proper persuasion
will likely fall in
see, that’s just the nature
of hosses and men

Which put me to thinkin’
’bout what Dad had said
and a couple of visions
then danced in my head

In my mirror, while shavin’
which one will I see
could I be Tyrone
or would I be Tyree

And to leaders of men
let’s all raise a cup
here’s to pullin’ your weight
and to cowboyin’ up

© 2005, Jay Snider, used with permission
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s permission.

Here’s a poem that might inspire some New Year’s resolutions.

Popular Oklahoma rancher, poet, and songwriter Jay Snider is a crowd pleaser on stages across the West. He is appreciated as well for his fine reciting.

Jay Snider has a grand new CD, Classic Cowboy Poetry: The Old Tried and True, which showcases his fine reciting. Like some poetry time traveler, he delivers poems by Bruce Kiskaddon, Henry Herbert Knibbs, Will Ogilvie, Sunny Hancock, and others, to carry you back to time when, to quote Kiskaddon, “cattle were plenty and people were few.” Find more at http://www.jaysnider.net (and more about him and more poetry at CowboyPoetry.com).

Enjoy his rendition of Sunny Hancock’s (1931-2003) “The Bear Tale” in a video from the Western Folklife Center’s 2011 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

See a Western Horseman video about Jay Snider by Jennifer Denison here.

Just a few of the places you’ll find Jay Snider in coming months include: the 4th annual Western Music & Songwriters Series, January 28, 2017 in Tooele, Utah; the 31st Annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, February 24-25, 2017, in Alpine; and the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, February 3-4, 2017, in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

Find more about Jay Snider at CowboyPoetry.com, and visit JaySnider.net.

This photo is by popular poet and wilderness guide Sandy Seaton Sallee, from December, 2015. She described it, “Fred and Frank, our big blue Brabant/Percheron team, near our home above the Yellowstone River. Airedale pup Kate enjoyed the ride!” Sandy and her husband Scott run Black Mountain Outfitters, located in the heart of Paradise Valley, just north of Yellowstone National Park in Montana and also Slough Creek Outfitters, offering world-famous Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout fishing. Find more about Sandy Seaton Sallee at CowboyPoetry.com, .

Cowboy Crossroads podcast with Andy Hedges

cowboycrossroads

Songster, reciter, and cowboy music and poetry historian Andy Hedges hosts and produces Cowboy Crossroads.

Each episode features a guest who Andy engages to “share stories and discuss music, poetry, and culture from the working cowboy West and beyond.”

Cowboy Crossroads is available on Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, and on other podcast providers.

Find more about Cowboy Crossroads at Andy Hedges’ web site.

COWBOY’S NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

nyear02

 

COWBOY’S NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS
by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

As one who’s been a cowhand since the wildcats learned to spit,
I’ve made some resolutions for the comin’ year, to wit:
Resolved, to ride a shorter day and sleep a longer night;
To never come to breakfast till the sun is shinin’ bright;
To draw a top-hand’s wages when they’re due or quit the job
And hunt a wealthy widow or an easy bank to rob.
Resolved, to quit the wagon when the chuck ain’t up to snuff,
To feed no more on bullet beans nor chaw on beef that’s tough.
Resolved, to straddle nothin’ in the line of saddle mount
That ain’t plumb easy-gaited, gentle broke, and some account.

Resolved, that when it blizzards and there’s stock out in the storm,
To let the owner worry while I stay in where it’s warm.
Resolved, that when it comes my turn next spring to ride the bogs,
I’ll don the bib and tucker of my town and Sunday togs,
And tell the boss, by gravies, if he craves to shed some blood,
Just try to make me smear ’em tailin’ moo-cows from the mud.
Resolved, that when a thunderhead comes rollin’ up the sky,
I’ll lope in off my circle to the bunkhouse where it’s dry.

Resolved, to do such ropin’ as a ropin’ cowhand must,
But never when the air ain’t free from cattle-trompled dust.
Resolved to show no hosses, and resolved, to swim no cricks;
Resolved, no dead-cow skinnin’, and resolved, no fence to fix.
Resolved, to swing no pitchfork, no pick, no ax, no spade;
Resolved to wear my whiskers—if I want to—in a braid!
Resolved, to take this New Year plenty easy through-and-through,
Instead of sweatin’ heavy like I’ve always used to do.

As one who’s been a cowhand since before who laid the chunk,
It may sound like I’m loco, or it may sound like I’m drunk
To make such resolutions as you see upon my list,
And others purt near like ’em that my mem’ry may have missed;
But gosh, they sound so pleasant to a son of saddle sweat!
And New Year’s resolutions—well, I never kept one yet!
So why make resolutions that bring furrows to your brow?
Let’s make ’em free and fancy—’cause we’ll bust ’em anyhow!

© 1966, S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker

Barker’s prolific writing was described by his friend Fred Gipson, “…It’s as western as sagebrush, authentic as an brush-scuffed old boot, and full of the warm-hearted humor that seems always to be a part of ‘the men who ride where the range is wide’…”

Find more about S. Omar Barker and more of his poetry here: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/sobarker.htm

This postcard, with a December 4, 1913 postmark from Oleander, California, is from our collection.

Find more New Year poems at CowboyPoetry.com.

 

NEW YEAR’S EVE by Rod Nichols

jmr122015

© 2015, John Michael Reedy

 

NEW YEAR’S EVE
by Rod Nichols

I’ll saddle the roan then ride out alone
‘neath a clear moon with frost on the ground,
to a high ridge I know
through the dark pines and snow
far away from the dim lights of town.

In a short space of time a hillside I’ll climb
to the top with my face to the wind,
and there I’ll just wait
as the hour grows late
and a new year once more will begin.

I’ll take a look then on where I have been
and the changes the old year has brought,
the good times and bad
some happy some sad
as the faces of time fill my thoughts.

In the silence of night from that small patch of white
I’ll say “Adios” to lost friends,
with a small prayer at last
for the present and past
then I’ll ride down that hill once again.

© 2000 Rod Nichols, used with permission

Rod Nichols is forever missed by his many friends and family. This is one of the early poems he shared. Find more about him and more of his poetry at CowboyPoetry.com.

This 2015 photograph, “Roper in the Snow,” is by Montana photographer, songwriter, musician, and poet John Michael Reedy. See additional impressive photography at his site.

Find more about John Michael Reedy at CowboyPoetry.com and visit twistedcowboy.com.

Find more New Year poems at CowboyPoetry.com.

 

DECEMBER STRAGGLERS by Terry Nash

tn

DECEMBER STRAGGLERS
by Terry Nash

Morning’s pale sun gave way to thick clouds
As we all saddled our mounts.
Ridin’ from camp, our mission today
Is needin’ to fill the count.

Three hundred ten was gathered last month,
The tally was sixteen shy.
We rode the breaks and benches for sign;
No tellin’ how they’d got by.

Two solid weeks we searched the JU,
Combin’ the brush for eight pair,
With little to show for our ridin’
‘Cept that the stragglers weren’t there.

Those cattle were nowhere on our range;
They’d maybe returned to Hell’s Hole;
High country grass they’d grazed since July,
Till fall’s storms started to roll.

We’d gathered three pair and one hunter
A-hoofin’ it into town,
But we’re still ten head out today and
The next big storm’s blowin’ down.

We’re buckin’ a head-wind this morning,
Five riders watchin’ for sign.
The Lasalles are fadin’ from our view;
The wind’s beginnin’ to whine.

We wallered deep drifts t’ward the 2V
Followin’ Old Raley’s hunch:
“This new storm’ll bring ‘em down,” he said,
“We’ll likely find the whole bunch.”

Gates were left open all through the range
So stragglers could pass on through.
Veteran cows will know to move down
When winter dictates they do.

The clouds were hangin’ level and dark,
Raley was settin’ the pace.
We topped out above Luster Basin,
The first flakes hittin’ my face.

Jackson pulled up his horse and pointed
At our stragglers, single file,
Tails to the wind and stringin’ our way
Down the draw a quarter mile.

Wild old Snort was a-leadin’ the bunch.
We split and got out of sight.
We’ll swing in behind and then flank ‘em
Providin’ our timing’s right.

The cattle filed past and we stepped out
Snort threw her head flingin’ snot.
Jess was ready when she quit the trail;
He turned her back at a trot.

The old rip knew where she’s goin’.
She and the rest reached the pines,
She led ‘em through and out on the road
With us just ridin’ behind.

The storm at our backs now, we’re ridin’;
Wet heavy flakes flyin’ past.
Sllckers drippin’, our horses are soaked,
We’re hopin’ our luck will last.

Past Mountain Island, down off Black Hill,
She struck the trail to the north
Where the Beiser corrals stood waitin’.
Two flank riders sashayed forth

To get in position to turn ‘em,
But Ol’ Snort just walked on in.
We backed in the trucks and trailered ‘em
Just as the light’s gettin’ thin.

It’s usually never that easy,
You mostly earn what you bring.
We got lucky – our stragglers found us
In winter’s cold icy sting.

© 2012, Terry Nash, used with permission

Colorado rancher and poet told us about the poem’s inspiration, “We summer our cattle on private ground, pooling them with several other herds at Glade Park and Pinon Mesa, high country situated a few miles west of Grand Junction, in Western Colorado. We throw the cattle on the mountain in early June and usually gather and bring ’em back to the valley in November, when the weather dictates we do. It usually takes three or four ‘sweeps’ a-horseback to clean the 6000 acre pasture, and there’s always a few stragglers reluctant to leave. Riding the pasture looking for those last few head isn’t always in the  best of weather. ‘December Stragglers’ came from a ride like that.”

Terry Nash also shared this photograph, which was a part of Picture the West, photos of “gathering cattle at 9800 feet and trailing the herd twelve miles down to 7,000 feet, from Pinon Mesa to Glade Park, Colorado.” See all the photos here.

“December Stragglers” is the title poem of Terry’s 2013 CD. Find a video interview with him here. Terry Nash appears at events across the West.

Find more about Terry at CowboyPoetry.com and at his site, terrynashcowboypoet.com.

 

A COWBOY TOAST by James Barton Adams (1843-1918)

CapatainJackandJBA2sel.jpg

 

A COWBOY TOAST
by James Barton Adams (1843-1918)

Here’s to the passing cowboy, the plowman’s pioneer;
His home, the boundless mesa, he of any man the peer;
Around his wide sombrero was stretched the rattler’s hide,
His bridle sporting conchos, his lasso at his side.
All day he roamed the prairies, at night he, with the stars,
Kept vigil o’er thousands held by neither posts nor bars;
With never a diversion in all the lonesome land,
But cattle, cattle, cattle, and the sun and sage and sand.

Sometimes the hoot-owl hailed him, when scudding through the flat;
And prairie dogs would sauce him, as at their doors they sat;
The rattler hissed its warning when near its haunts he trod
Some Texas steer pursuing o’er the pathless waste of sod.
With lasso, quirt, and ‘colter the cowboy knew his skill;
They pass with him to history and naught their place can fill;
While he, bold broncho rider, ne’er conned a lesson page,—
But cattle, cattle, cattle, and sun and sand and sage.

And oh! the long night watches, with terror in the skies!
When lightning played and mocked him till blinded were his eyes;
When raged the storm around him, and fear was in his heart
Lest panic-stricken leaders might make the whole herd start.
That meant a death for many, perhaps a wild stampede,
When none could stem the fury of the cattle in the lead;
Ah, then life seemed so little and death so very near,—
With cattle, cattle, cattle, and darkness everywhere.

Then quaff with me a bumper of water, clear and pure,
To the memory of the cowboy whose fame must e’er endure
From the Llano Estacado to Dakota’s distant sands,
Where were herded countless thousands in the days of fenceless lands.
Let us rear for him an altar in the Temple of the Brave,
And weave of Texas grasses a garland for his grave;
And offer him a guerdon for the work that he has done
With cattle, cattle, cattle, and sage and sand and sun.

….James Barton Adams

James Barton Adams worked as a cowboy on Captain Jack Crawford’s New Mexico ranch, 1890-92. He became a newspaper columnist, and wrote poems still recited (and put to music) today, including “The Cowboy’s Dance Song” (also known as “The High-Toned Dance”). It was recently determined that he was the author of “The Gol Darn Wheel.”

The poem appears in Adams’ 1899 book, Breezy Western Verse. Adams, as told in a 1968 publication of the Socorro County (New Mexico) Historical Society, “…lived and worked in the rugged San Andres mountains of central New Mexico on a ranch owned by Captain Jack Crawford, famous Indian Scout and Poet…Many of his poems were probably drawn from his life and experiences during this period in New Mexico. Adams wrote the foreword to Capt. Jack’s book, Whar the Hand O’ God is Seen, published in 1913.”

Scott E. Lusby shared this photo and others of James Barton Adams, his great great grandfather, and Captain Jack Crawford in a 2008 Picture the West at CowboyPoetry.com. Find the photos here.

Find more about James Barton Adams and more of his poetry at CowboyPoetry.com.

 

THE OLD TIME CHRISTMAS by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

kiskoldtimechristmas

 

THE OLD TIME CHRISTMAS
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

I liked the way we used to do,
when cattle was plenty and folks was few.
The people gathered frum far and near, and
they barbacued a big fat steer.
The kids tried stayin’ awake because,
they reckoned they might ketch Santa Claus.
Next mornin’ you’d wake ’em up to see,
what he’d been and put on the Christmas tree.

It was Christmas then fer the rich and pore,
and every ranch was an open door.
The waddy that came on a company hoss
was treated the same as the owner and boss.
Nobody seemed to have a care,
you was in among friends or you wasn’t there.
For every feller in them days knew
to behave hisself as a man should do.

Some had new boots, which they’d shore admire
when they warmed their feet in front of the fire.
And the wimmin folks had new clothes too,
but not like the wimmin of these days do.
Sometimes a drifter came riding in,
some feller that never was seen agin.
And each Christmas day as the years went on
we used to wonder where they’d gone.

I like to recall the Christmas night.
The tops of the mountains capped with white.
The stars so bright they seemed to blaze,
and the foothills swum in a silver haze.
Them good old days is past and gone.
The time and the world and the change goes on.
And you cain’t do things like you used to do
when cattle was plenty and folks was few.

… Bruce Kiskaddon, 1934

And here is another Kiskaddon poem, with a similar sentiment:

MERRY CHRISTMAS
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

We was whistlin’, we was singin’ on a winter afternoon;
The hobble chains and fryin’ pans was jinglin’ to the tune.
Fer we knew the day was Christmas and the line camp was in sight,
No, it wasn’t much to look at but it suited us all right.

We onpacked and we onsaddled, then we turned our hosses out;
We cooked lots of beef and biscuits and we made the coffee stout.
We et all we could swaller, then we set and took a smoke,
And we shore did work our memory out to find a bran new joke.

No, it wasn’t like the Christmas like the folks have nowadays—
They are livin’ more in comfort, and they’ve sorter changed their ways—
But I sorter wish, old pardner, we could brush the years away,
And be jest as young and happy, as we was that Christmas Day.

… Bruce Kiskaddon

 

Merry Christmas, all!

This image is an original Los Angeles Stockyards calendar page from December, 1954. The poem and drawing first appeared in the Western Livestock Journal in 1934. It was also included in Kiskaddon’s 1935 book, “Western Poems.”

Poet Bruce Kiskaddon and artist Katherine Field (1908-1951) collaborated on works for the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar and the Western Livestock Journal. The two never met in person.

Bruce Kiskaddon worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898 in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. He published short stories and nearly 500 poems. His poems are among the most admired and the most recited in the “classic” cowboy poetry canon.

Much of what is known about Kiskaddon and his work comes from Open Range, Bill Siems’ monumental collection of Kiskaddon’s poetry. Bill Siems also collected Bruce Kiskaddon’s short stories in a book called Shorty’s Yarns.

Siems tells that Kiskaddon wrote an annual Christmas poem for the Chuck Wagon Trailers, a group organized in 1931 “by old-time cowboys who were Hollywood’s first stunt men and western stars.”

On The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 8, a double CD of classic and modern Christmas cowboy poetry, Jay Snider has an excellent recitation of “The Old Time Christmas” and Gail Steiger has a likewise great recitation of “Merry Christmas.”

Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.