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Hicks' Hereford Heifers

"Hicks' Hereford Heifers" by Tim Cox 

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See the Art Spur introductory page here

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

Our twentieth piece offered to "spur" the imagination, as part of a winter Art Spur and Christmas at the BAR-D, is Tim Cox' painting, "Hicks' Hereford Heifers." 

Poetry submissions were welcome from all through December 15, 2009. Submissions are now closed.

Read the selected poems below.

Reproduction prohibited without express written permission
"Hicks' Hereford Heifers" by Tim Cox 

Tim Cox comments, "These were some replacement heifers for a ranch that I was managing. They were waiting for me to come and feed them."

Tim Cox is one of America's best known Western artists. His depiction of the contemporary western cowboy, rancher and the modern Southwest carries an authenticity that appeals to Westerners.

We were honored to have Tim Cox' painting, "At His Own Pace," as the official poster for Cowboy Poetry Week, 2007. See the Art Spur for "At His Own Pace" and the resulting poems here.

See our feature here for more about Tim Cox, and visit Tim Cox' web site for more about him and his work: www.TimCox.com 


Special thanks go to rancher, writer, editor and poet Diane Tribitt for bringing Tim Cox's "Hicks' Hereford Heifers" to our attention. As editor for the no-longer-published I. M. Cowgirl magazine, Diane Tribitt had arranged to have this image appear with S. Omar Barker's "Empty Saddles at Christmas" as a special feature in the November/December, 2009 issue. That led us to plan a complementary Art Spur feature. Unfortunately, the magazine ceased publication in October, 2009. UPDATE 11/11: You can now view the poem and painting at Diane Tribitt's www.CowboyLegacy.org.


Reproduction prohibited without express written permission
"Hicks' Hereford Heifers" by Tim Cox 



Waitin' on a Stock Man by Michael Henley of Arkansas
Feeding on Christmas by Aspen Black of Virginia
Hereford Heifers by Tom Nichols of Oregon

Growing Girls by Susan Matley of Washington
The Right Kind by Don Hilmer of South Dakota
Hicks' Hereford Heifers by Dale Page of Indiana
The Christmas Bawl by Cade Schalla of Texas
Hicks' Hereford Heifers by Joyce Johnson of Washington
The Misfit by Al Mehl of Colorado



Waitin' on a Stock Man

Patience in a heifer is a virtue seldom found
Its worse when she's hungry and the snow is on the ground
She'll show patience as she laps the ranch checking every wire
plotting exit strategy as her accomplices conspire

She be patient as she waits for you and your mount to commit
Then double back and leave the two of you throwing a fit
When adventure is her aim she doesn't mind to wait
As she eyes the opportunity of a less than stout built gate

But let the Good Lord bless us with a half a foot of snow
And the agitated stares will tell you all you need to know
There is no doubt at her frustrations seen in every frosty breath
Cause waitin' on a stock man annoys these Hereford girls to death.

© 2009, Michael Henley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Feeding on Christmas

Somewhere in town the bells will be ringin'
The houses will be all aglow.
Somewhere the kids are all gathered up singin'
While I'm here knee-deep in the snow.

Somewhere tonight, while church-folks are prayin'
And children are tucked away warm,
I'll be alone with my empty heart strayin'
Still lost like a colt in the storm.

Out past the moon and over the mountain
I'll follow a flickering star
'Til it turns into sparkles, too many for countin',
And heaven don't seem all that far.

(For) Day is just night, and night's just like daytime
With blankets thrown over the sun.
Moonlight's just dust from an old cowboy's goldmine—
The wind's just a thief on the run.

I could be warm and snug by the fire
In somebody's four-poster bed
Struggling with dreams that don't fill my desire,
So thank God these heifers aren't fed!

© 2009, Aspen Black
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Hereford Heifers

Hereford heifers,
Standin’ in the lot.
They aint much,
But all I got.

With faces white
And hides of red,
They’re Mark Donald
And Line 1 bred.”

My old man;
He kept his word.
What you see
Is my new herd.

Mountain raised,
Weaned just today,
My summer wages
For hauling hay.

They’ll settle down
In a week or so.
They got the shed
For sleet and snow.

Soon, we’ll start ‘em
On better feed.
Then tie ‘em up,
Teach ‘em to lead.

We’ll go to town;
Make the spring fair.
We’ll wash and clip
And show the pair.

Then back to grass,
The bull and hills
And me to work
To pay their bills.

© 2009, Tom Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Growing Girls

We’re hungry and we’re waiting,
Gosh, it seems the time of day
When our cowgirl comes to visit
With her gifts of grain and hay.

Our festive coats of red and white
Protect us from the cold.
We shun the comfort of the barn,
Our hunger makes us bold.

We’re hungry and we’re waiting
And we’re yearning for her praise
When she leads us on the scale
And our target growth she weighs.

Some people say we look alike
But that’s far from the truth,
As one is polled, the other horned
In our beauteous Hereford youth.

We’re hungry and we’re waiting
As the snow fills in our tracks.
The grass sleeps in a winter grave,
Depriving us of snacks.

Our markings aren’t identical
One has more white, you see,
But we’re on the same career path:
To replace the elderly.

We’re hungry and we’re waiting
But it shouldn’t be too long,
The sound of feed has pricked our ears
And soon we’ll hear her song.

We see her now and hear her words
Of bulls and summer sun.
“Eat hearty, girls,” she says with cheer:
At last our wait is done.

© 2009, Susan Matley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Right Kind 

Well there's two Herford heifers
     They appear to be just fine
I just wonder where they came from
     From the neighbors or from mine
Bet they drifted in the snow storm
     And they might as well been dead
Ridin' hard would not have found 'em
     They were hidin' in that shed
I would say that they are "loners"    
     Just the kind that like to stray
Bet the one with horns was missin'
     When we worked 'em one Spring day
S'pose we might as well just leave 'em
     Won't stay with the herd at all
But they'll have some big calves with 'em    
     When we gather in the Fall.

© 2009, Don Hilmer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Hicks' Hereford Heifers 

The pen where Hicks’ two Hereford heifers stood,
All covered ankle deep in last night’s snow,
Contained the dreams which, cultivated, should
Maintain what Grampa started long ago.
The calves this year were mostly bulls to ship,
These two good heifers all he chose to keep.
But now his lofty plans hung in the grip
Of disappointments which his choice would reap.
For yesterday he’d heard the neighbors’ plight
Of losing all they had in flame and smoke.
So now the choice is his to do what’s right,
And help to fix what circumstances broke.
He swelled with pride at how his herd had grown
As he stood shiv’ring, looking at the calves.
The promise these two Hereford calves had shown
Was destined now to be cut into halves.
Those sweat-filled hours, those long, hard days came back
To mock him for the choice he had to make,
To help a friend regain what he might lack,
And so deprive his herd for others’ sake.
He backed the trailer up and stood awhile.
The heifers stood there waiting, calm and mute.
He chose the bigger calf and, with a smile,
He pushed the heifer up the loading chute. 

© 2009, Dale E. Page
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The Christmas Bawl

A kerosene oil lantern hangs
From a rusty twisted nail
But the yellow glow it cast
Doesn’t do much to unveil

The darkness of the room
Where an old cowboy just sits
Alone in utter silence
Just a clinging to his wits

He hears a cow a-bawlin’
And peers through the window pane
Must be one of mamma’s Herefords
Crying for a little grain

The snow sure is coming down
And it’s getting awful cold
He felt this storm a coming though
Guess that’s part of gettin’ old

He throws a log on the fire
And watches it slowly burn
He thinks about last year
And his heart begins to yearn

She really did love Christmas
And always went overboard
She baked and decorated
Enough to win an award

Her family was her prize
And it filled her heart with glee
To see them all gather ‘round
Underneath the Christmas tree

Who knew it would be her last
Lord he sure did miss her now
This March would mark fifty years
Since the day they said their vow

He hears that cow bawl again
And reaches for his jacket
Better go outside and check
The reason for the racket

The kids are coming tomorrow
If the roads are not that bad
They offered to bring dinner
Which had made him kind of glad

He hadn’t even put up a tree
Somehow it didn’t feel right
But even if he wanted to
Where would he find one tonight

He thinks about them grandkids
Naw it just won’t be the same
He wonders will they understand
Or just look around with shame

What do they expect from him?
He’s doing the best he can
It’s too late to start all over
For he’s far from a young man

Where are them two Herefords?
They are usually by the shed
Did they miss mamma too
Yeah they used to be hand fed

He comes across their tracks
Almost filled in now by snow
And he follows them up the hill
Just wondering where they go

Then all of a sudden he sees ‘em
And he can’t believe his eyes
For they’d gathered ‘round a pine tree
Of perfect shape and perfect size

They look at him and blink
Then beller as if to say
It’s not too late cowboy
For tomorrow is Christmas day

In that moment, in that instance
Things suddenly become clear
He understands what he must do
As he wipes away a tear

He knows there’s not much time
And it may take him all night
But he don’t mind for he knows
That his purpose now is right

She always made it special
And by God! He’d do the same
Yeah Christmas would live on
In memory of her name

© 2009, Cade Schalla
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Hicks' Hereford Heifers

The big herd had packed together
Combined body heat to share.
Their weather-wise old leaders
Had led them safely there.
The straw stack would protect them
For at least a day or so.
I could only hope the comin' storm
Was just a one-day blow.
The new ones had been ostracized
By the others for a bit.
I knew I had to find them soon
Before the blizzard hit.
It was not the chore I wanted
On this early Christmas Eve
Knowin' that my kids were waitin'
For the gifts they would receive.
Hicks had bought the pretty heifers
And had showed them off with pride.
Why he seemed almost as happy
As when bringin' home his bride.
All the other hands were spendin'
Christmas Eve around a tree
With folks they love, so savin'
Hicks' new cows was up to me.
Just then the dark clouds parted
And I saw a bit of sky
And a star shone down and showed me
Those two heifers standin' nigh.
That star kept right on shinin'
All the way to the cattle shed.
I got the cows in safely
And my horse stabled and fed.
I headed for my house and
Patient family waitin' there.
I knew I had a tale to tell
And a miracle to share.
The snow and wind were bad now.
It was hard to true believe
That I'd seen the sky and that bright star
On this stormy Christmas Eve.

© 2009, Joyce Johnson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Misfit

It seems they’ve hired a brand new hand

To come and work this patch of land;

He sure looks diff’rent from the rest, best I remember.

Must be some desp’rate kinda slob

To have to sign up for a job

That starts as evening turns to dark in late December.


He wears the strangest sort of duds,

Not meant for muckin’ in the mud,           

And those odd gloves, I’ll bet they’ve never touched a hay rake.

He does not look the part one bit,

And he’s not lookin’ very fit,

I’ll bet the boss will send him packin’ before daybreak.


From years of gen’rous food and drink,

This man’s so fat, I’d have to think,

That if he shaved, then crossed his legs, he’d look like Buddha.

With ev’ry step, he shakes the ground,

This new hired hand is purt near round;

Pity the pony that he draws from the remuda.


And you can see, though light is low,

His clothes are red from head to toe;

The glow’s enough to scare away the midnight varmints.

Cowboys ’round here, they tend to choose

Their clothes in browns and tans and blues;

They mostly save the color red for undergarments.


His cone-shaped hat will work, I s’ppose,

For winter’s frosty chills and snows,

But come the summer, there’s no brim to keep the sun off. 

And that hat’s trim of white ermine,

It’s gonna ice up over time,

He’ll have a river in his eyebrows come spring runoff.


On local cowboys, it’s not rare

To see some groomed-up facial hair,

But this man’s long white beard, it stretches to his navel.

And if that were not odd enough,

He’s got fur trim on ev’ry cuff,

The moonlight strands reflect off bands of snow white sable.


Now if you trim the clothes you use,

White’s not the color that you’d choose

If you knew beans about the chores that come with ranchin’.

You see, the stains clothes can’t rebuke

Come from manure, blood, bile, and puke;

White fur’s for folks who spend their day inside a mansion.


’Long side this cowboy, here’s a shock,

He’s shipped in eight new head of stock;

They’ve spindly skinny legs, and mangy winter coats.

And from their heads, they’ve grown long horns

Like branches off a bush of thorns,

You’d think the A.I. man crossed bison up with goats. 


And all these livestock, it would seem,

He’s harnessed up to make a team

To pull a sled that is, quite frankly, overloaded.

By light of moon, you get a sense

Of this new man’s incompetence;

He’ll soon be fired, or at the least, he’ll be demoted.


Still, I’ll admit the man looks jolly,

You can see from here, by golly,

That he’s smilin’, even though it’s ten below.

He’s just a misfit wrangler dude                                                     

Who sports a good-luck attitude,

The kind of oddball… that you’d like to get to know. 

© 2009, Al Mehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Thanks to all who participated.


Visit www.TimCox.com 


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