RIDIN’ FENCE by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

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RIDIN’ FENCE
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

Ridin’ along at a easy walk
with your steeples and hammer and pliers.
Keepin’ a watch fer the tracks of stock
or the weeds blowed up on the wires.
You’ll find some sign of coyotes, too,
and plenty of rabbit tracks.
And down in the wash some calves crawled thru
and scraped the hair off their backs.

You must fix the gate on the other side
along where the road goes through.
The past’rs big. It’s a good long ride
and they’s allus a heap to do.
You find a place where a big old bull
went through in a patch of oak.
They’s a picket out and some steeples pulled
and a couple of wires broke.

Some folks had camped at the Hillside spring,
been there for a couple of days.
The boss didn’t like that sort of thing.
They might kill a beef, he says.
Before you finish it gits plum dark.
You caint see to do things right.
So you pile up some rocks to make a mark
and ride on home in the night.

Fence ridin’ jobs aint allus snaps.
I never did call it fun.
The worst thing about it is perhaps
that yore never exactly done.
But any feller that’s got good sense
can figger the whole affair.
If nothin’ went wrong with a string of fence,
he wouldn’t be needed there.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon, from “Western Poems,” 1935

In Bill Siems’ Shorty’s Yarns, a collection of Kiskaddon’s short stories, he includes a 1938 note from the editor of the Western Livetock Journal, where many of Kiskaddon’s poems and stories were printed:

“Answering the requests of many readers of Western Livestock Journal, Bruce Kiskaddon, famous cowboy poet, writes his autobiography. His book Western Poems has had tremendous sale. There is hardly a cattlemen’s meeting but what someone adds to the occasion by reciting a Bruce Kiskaddon poem. Probably his ‘Little Blue Roan’ is the most popular. Now we’ll let Bruce tell his own story.”

Kiskaddon writes, “My first work with cattle was down in southwest Missouri. I was twelve years old. Four of us, all about the same age, were day herding a bunch of cows on what unfenced country there was around that place. We had quite a lot of room and at night we put them in an eighty acre pasture. We four kids worked at it all summer. We rode little Indian horses and went home at night. Not much cow punching, that’s a fact, but it was big business to us. The talk of opening the Indian territory for settlement had started, and already the open country was beginning to be occupied by boomers’ camps. People were coming from everywhere to be ready for the opening. They were a mixed up lot….” Read the entire piece here: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1089&context=usupress_pubs

Find more about Kiskaddon in our features at CowboyPoetry.com.

This 1941 photo by Marion Post Wolcott (1910-1990) is titled, “Range cattle behind fence on grazing land near Birney, Montana.” It is from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.

Read more about Marion Post Wolcott, known for her Depression-era photographs, and find more images at a web site designed by her daughter.

(This poem and photograph are in the public domain.)

Events: October 2016

• through October 2, 2016
65th Annual Rex Allen Days Willcox, Arizona

• through October 2, 2016
27th Annual Durango Cowboy Gathering Durango, Colorado

• through October 2, 2016
Trail’s End Gathering High River, Alberta

• through October 29, 2016
National Harvest & Cowboy Festival Silver Dollar City, Missouri

• October 1, 2016
Evening Under the Stars  Reno, Nevada

• October 2, 2016
27th Annual Alzada Cowboy Poetry, Music and Art Show  Alzada, Montana

• October 3-4, 2016
38th Annual Folk Music Festival Prescott, Arizona

• October 6-8, 2016
23rd Annual Will James Society Gather Canyon, Texas

• October 6-9, 2016
25th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days Valentine, Nebraska

• October 6-9, 2016
20th Annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival Hailey and Ketchum, Idaho

• October 7-9, 2016
Bob Wills Fiddle Festival & Contest Greenville, Texas

• October 7-9, 2016
27th Annual Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico

• October 7-9, 2016
Annual Lone Pine Film Festival and Cowboy Poetry Lone Pine, California

• October 13, 2016
Sixth Annual Paradise Cowboy Music & Poetry Gathering Paradise, California

• October 13-16, 2016
Women Writing the West Conference Santa Fe, New Mexico

• October 14-15, 2016
Cowboy Crossings / Cowboy Artists of America and Traditional Cowboy Arts Association Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

• October 15-22, 2016
The NILE Stock Show, Pro Rodeo and Western Expo Billings, Montana

• October 20 – 23, 2016
14th Annual Southeastern Cowboy Festival and Symposium Cartersville, Georgia

• October 22, 2016
Whistle Stop Ranch Fall Cowboy Roundup Acton, California

• October 22, 2016
33rd Annual Texian Market Days George Ranch Historical Park Richmond, Texas

• • •

• October 26-30, 2016
22nd Annual Heber Valley Western Music and Cowboy Poetry Gathering Heber City, Utah

hvcpg2016Visit our Sponsor supporters: Heber Valley Western Music and Cowboy Poetry Gathering

• • •

• October 28-30, 2016
26th Annual Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering and Western Swing Festival Fort Worth, Texas

• October 28-30, 2016
Cedar Livestock & Heritage Festival Cedar City, Utah

• Dates not yet received for 2016
23rd annual Gila Valley Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering Safford, Arizona

• Dates not yet received for 2016
27th Annual Alzada Cowboy Poetry, Art & Music Show Alzada, Montana

• Dates not yet received for 2016
26th Annual Visalia Fall Roundup Visalia, California

Events: September 2016

• September 1-5, 2016
58th Annual Wagon Days  Sun Valley, Idaho

• September 2-3, 2016
Fifth annual Stanley-Sawtooth Cowboy Gathering  Stanley, Idaho

• September 2-4, 2016
Celebrate Bandera  Bandera, Texas

• September 2-4, 2016
Tumbleweed Music Festival  Richland, Washington

• September 2-5, 2016
North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo  Barriere, British Columbia

• September 7-10, 2016
69th Annual Tri-State Rodeo Fort Madison, Iowa

• September 9-10, 2016
4th Annual Great Basin Buckaroo Gathering Ogden, Utah

• September 9-10, 2016
San Angelo Cowboy Gathering  San Angelo, Texas

• September 9-10, 2016
September 22-23, 2017
19th Annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering  Hot Springs, South Dakota

• September 9-11, 2016
Banning Stagecoach Days  Banning, California

• September 9-11, 2016
28th Annual National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration  Lubbock, Texas

• September 9-11, 2016
36th Annual Hells Canyon Mule Days  Enterprise, Oregon

• September 9-11, 2016
National Folk Festival  Greensboro, North Carolina

• • •

• September 10, 2016
2nd Annual Napa Valley Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering Yountville, California
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Visit our Sponsor supporters: Western Folklife Center

• • •

• September 14-17, 2016
105th Annual Pendleton Round-up  Pendleton, Oregon

• September 14-October 29, 2016
National Harvest & Cowboy Festival  Silver Dollar City, Missouri

• September 16-18, 2016
27th Annual Maple Creek Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Maple Creek, Saskatchewan

• September 16-18, 2016
Fifth Annual Dakota Western Heritage Festival  Pierre, South Dakota

• September 16-18, 2016
7th Annual Lost n Lava Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Shoshone, Idaho

• September 23-24, 2016
12th Annual Globalquerque Music Festival  Albuquerque, New Mexico

• September 23-24, 2016
Western Days Festival  Lewisville, Texas

• September 23-25, 2016
102nd Annual Fruita Fall Festival Fruita, Colorado

• September 24, 2016
Not Just Cowboy Poetry Willits, California

• September 24, 2016
Pikes Peak Cowboy Gathering  Cripple Creek, Colorado

• September 25, 2016
Ranching Truth benefit concert Alamogordo, New Mexico

• September 25-26, 2016
Ranch Rodeo Finals and Cowboy Heritage Festival  Kissimmee, Florida

• September 29-October 2, 2016
27th Annual Durango Cowboy Gathering  Durango, Colorado

• September 29-October 2, 2016
65th Annual Rex Allen Days  Willcox, Arizona

• September 30-October 2, 2016
Trail’s End Gathering  High River, Alberta

 

 

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

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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.)

HELP WANTED by Andy Nelson

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HELP WANTED
by Andy Nelson

The title of a poster caught my eye,
At the old hometown feed and seed;
“Would you like to give a new job a try?”
I commenced to give it a read.

The qualifications are quite easy,
We need a young male in his prime;
A caretaker will feed him and sees he
stays on the ranch most of the time.

The neighbors don’t care much for visitors,
You’ll have to stay within our bounds;
They’ve even shot at some inquisitors,
So don’t be making any rounds.

You will be expected to be present,
When we call to come on the run;
Your nature does not have to be pleasant,
As long as you get your work done.

You must always be willing and eager,
And in the best shape to perform;
You must deliver like a big leaguer,
Even when it’s not very warm.

You can roughhouse with the other fellers,
Just don’t hurt them so they can’t work;
Don’t be mean to the other ranch dwellers,
All in all, just don’t be a jerk.

Really it is pretty simple duty,
Just work a few months of the year;
The ladies don’t care if you are snooty,
And the guys will mostly stay clear.

Just do as you wish both winter and spring,
But work in the summer and fall;
Eat all you that want and live like a king,
And don’t be too orn’ry to haul.

We’ll suffer your antics, as will each cow,
Even if you are a handful;
You may have already guessed it by now;
We’re in need of a new herd bull.

© 2016, Andy Nelson, used with permission

Second-generation farrier Andy Nelson is a popular cowboy poet, emcee, humorist, rodeo announcer, and co-host (with his brother Jim) of the syndicated Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio show.

Andy appears at events and gatherings across the West, and he will be at the Heber Valley Music & Cowboy Gathering in Heber City, Utah, October 26-30, 2016.

In Heber City, he’ll join other poets: Waddie Mitchell, Doris Daley, Jeff Carson, DW Groethe, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Ross Knox, and Walt “Bimbo” Cheney; and musicians Michael Martin Murphey, Suzy Bogguss, Bar J Wranglers, The Highwaymen Live Tribute Band, Dave Stamey, Wylie & The Wild West, The Haunted Windchimes, Joni Harms, Belinda Gail, New West, Trinity Seely, John Wayne Schulz, Heifer Belles, Molly in the
Mineshaft, Olivia Harms, Miss Devon and The Outlaw, Dansie Family Band, Kenny Hall, Ken Stevens & Jerye Lee, and the Heber Valley Orchestra.

Andy Nelson’s latest CD is “I Won,” and it features a wide range of poetic moods, from nonsense to reverence, that show the breadth of his talents. He is accompanied by friend and top songwriter Brenn Hill—who produced the album—on several tracks. The great-looking package sports a cover by noted cowboy cartoonist Ben Crane.

Find more about Andy Nelson at CowboyPoetry.com; at his web site, cowpokepoet.com; and at the Clear Out West (C.O.W.) website and the show’s Facebook page.

This 1941 photo, “Bull’s head. Cruzen Ranch, Valley County, Idaho,” is by Russell Lee, (1903-1986) and is from The Library of Congress. Find more about it here.

Find a feature about noted photographer Russell Lee and a gallery of photographs at the University of Texas at Austin.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but any other use requires permission. The photo is in the public domain.)

RIDING TO CAMP IN FALL by Amy Hale Auker

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RIDING TO CAMP IN FALL
by Amy Hale Auker

I am riding to camp in the evening,
The sun resting low in the day
The date marks the start of the season
When the wind gets cool, starts to play.

These horses are shiny and soft
With bellies full of monsoon grass
I wish they’d save their energy
But these fool notions will soon pass.

We don’t ride with a big crew on this outfit
Just me and you most of the time
But we’re lovers so it suits us
And the work’s getting done just fine.

You’re coming behind in the old brown truck
With food and our camp and our gear,
Pulling that rattle-y green trailer
full of alfalfa so rich and so dear.

This little bay mare is full of herself,
Kicking at the horse trailing behind,
There’s a big job ahead, little sister,
Better settle into a pace you like.

We’ve reached the creek and the clover is high.
These ponies are winding a bear.
Maybe the one whose tracks we’ve been seeing.
I wonder if he’ll winter ‘round here.

I’m sure looking forward to cow works this fall
To moving these girls down the way.
To long slow drives with gentle cows,
And a toddy at the end of the day.

I’m climbing the hill, almost to camp
A place of water and work and real.
I’ll hobble these mares and wait for you
To build a fire, pour a drink, make a meal.

For a few days we’ll gather into this trap,
Drink coffee from that old blue pot,
Strip saddles from the backs of sweating mounts
And talk about each cow we got.

I’m not sure which stars burn above
But I bet I’ll know by dawn.
I’ll lie in our bed with their swing overhead
And me held snug in your arms.

Tomorrow we start this cow and bull hunt
It’s catch and release every year,
But you couldn’t pay me to stay at home
When most of what I love is out here.

© 2016, Amy Hale Auker, used with permission
Writer, poet, and working cowboy Amy Steiger (who writes under the name “Amy Hale Auker”) works on Arizona’s Spider ranch. She told us, “…I usually only write a poem that rhymes when I am horseback, so I can remember it when I unsaddle. I wrote this one last fall between headquarters and camp.”

Amy Steiger is the author of three acclaimed books, two novels and an essay collection. Another essay collection, Ordinary Skin, is pending publication.

Find Amy Steiger at the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering (Sept 29-Oct 1). In early 2017 she’s featured at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 30-February 4) and the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering (February 23-24). Find more about Amy Steiger on Facebook; at CowboyPoetry.com; and at AmyHaleAuker.com, where you’ll find more about her books and see more of her writing.

This photograph of Amy and Gail Steiger is by impressive photojournalist Jessica Brandi Lifland and used with her permission.

It is from a series of photographs in her “Cowboy Poets” project. See a blog post and more of the photos here.

Don’t miss the additional series of photographs, of poets Rodney Nelson, Wally McRae, Henry Real Bird, Jack Walther, Bimbo Cheney, Waddie Mitchell, Doris Daley, Jerry Brooks, Elizabeth Ebert, D.W. Groethe, and Bill Lowman posted here.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but please request permission for any other uses.)

OLD EAGLE EYE by Yvonne Hollenbeck

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OLD EAGLE EYE
by Yvonne Hollenbeck

He can tell if a heifer is starting to calve,
I swear from a mile away,
and see if he needs to go pull the calf
by just simply looking that way.

He can see if a windmill is working or not
from his horse on a faraway hill,
and tell what direction the wind’s coming from
by watching the tail on the mill.

He knows if a coyote or badger is near
by watching the tracks in the sand,
and sees if a staple is loose from a post
on the fence that encircles his land.

He’s got eyes like an eagle for finding new calves
that their mamas have hidden all snug;
so why can’t he see the mud on his boots
that he’s tracking all over my rug?

© 2012, Yvonne Hollenbeck, used with permission.
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Ranch wife, top poet, and champion quilter Yvonne Hollenbeck and her husband Glen (a champion calf-roper and the subject of many of her poems) raise cattle and quarter horses on their ranch in Clearfield, South Dakota.

Yvonne Hollenbeck designed and created this quilt for the 25th anniversary of Old West Days and the Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering, October 6-9. It includes the 25 commemorative scarves from each year of the gathering. It will be raffled at the event.

Yvonne Hollenbeck joins Bonnie Krogman, Kristyn Harris, R P Smith, Hen and Chicks,Jan Schiferl, Marty Blocker, Marci Broyhill, Gale Patzlaff, Robert Dennis, Susie Knight, Paul Larson, Kristyn Harris, Don Schauda, Rick Buoy, and Plains Folk.

Find more information on Facebook  and at www.oldwestdays.net.

Yvonne Hollenbeck’s recent book, Rhyming the Range, and CD by the same name collect her original poems about her life on the ranch. The book includes the most requested poems from her two out-of-print books and all of her newest poetry.

Find more of Yvonne Hollenbeck’s poetry at CowboyPoetry.com; visit www.YvonneHollenbeck.com; and follow her on Facebook.

Thanks to Yvonne Hollenbeck for the photo.

Please respect copyright.