"Little Buddy"


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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 thirty-sixth piece offered to "spur" the imagination—a special Christmas Art Spur—is "Little Buddy," an image created by designer Chris Waddell from a photograph by Montana ranch hand, poet, and picker DW Groethe.

Submissions were welcome from all through Wednesday, December 18, 2013. Selected poems are posted below.

"Little Buddy"


"Little Buddy" is the cover image on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 8, a double CD of Christmas cowboy poetry. He is immortalized in poetry by DW Groethe, in the poem "The Legend of Little Buddy the Christmas Steer," which is on the CD, and also below.

The real "Little Buddy" lives on the Granley Ranch near Bainville, Montana. Here are some photos of him in his element:

photo by DW Groethe

Little Buddy and the heifers

photo by DW Groethe

Little Buddy in the snow


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"Little Buddy"


Little Buddy by Yvonne Hollenbeck of South Dakota

The Fence Feud by Marleen Bussma of Utah

The Best Christmas Gift by Jim Cathey of Texas

Santa's Special Gift by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming

Little Buddy by Susan Matley of Washington

The Legend of Little Buddy the Christmas Steer" by DW Groethe

Little Buddy

It was a cold and snowy eve and we were nearly done with chores
and would soon be with our family sharing Christmas Eve indoors.

But first we'd check some springers before calling it a day,
and probably, 'cause it's Christmas, would put out some extra hay.

The sun was going down and it was getting hard to see
when we spied him in a snow bank by a scraggly cedar tree.

It's a wonder that we found him, 'though we feared he might be dead;
he was shivering and gant and appeared he'd not been fed.

We searched in vain to find his mom, but she could not be found
and we knew he couldn't last long on that snowy, frozen ground.

We knew we had to get the little feller from the storm
so brought him to the barn where he'd be nice and warm.

Then we fed him from a bottle and we hoped he'd be okay
as we laid him in a box stall that was bedded down with hay.

We couldn't help but think about another Christmas eve
when another babe was in a barn, and why we all believe.

We named him "Little Buddy" and he's now a full grown steer
and there's no way we could sell him when we sold the rest last year.

He's became a family pet with a pasture of his own
and still call him "Little Buddy" though he's certainly full grown.

He reminds us all of Christmas and the meaning of the season
and perhaps our little buddy blessed our ranch for just that reason.

© 2013, Yvonne Hollenbeck
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.]



The Fence Feud

It started way back in the spring the day that he was born.
His mama broke right through the fence. Her hide was scraped and torn.
Her plan to get away and drop her calf far from the herd
had driven past ridiculous and now approached absurd.

The buck brush scratched like angry cats as I crashed through the scrub.
He stood unsteady on his feet, a bald-faced little cub.
I scooped him up into my arms and headed for the truck.
I tried to run the best I could while waitin’ to be struck

by Mama who was followin’ and bawlin’ all she’s worth.
I passed the end gate flyin’, hoisting him up by his girth.
The truck crawled slower than a patient to the dentist’s chair.
I dropped him off close to the barn with little time to spare.

His mama checked him over makin’ sure I’d done no harm.
He’d soon feel right at home while buckin’ circles ‘round the farm.
The cravin’ to go wander must be passed on through the genes.
As he got older I began relivin’ pasture scenes

where Mama had gone through the fence to see the other side.
Her offspring acted orn’ry and a bit dissatisfied.
My neighbors started callin’ tellin’ me a calf was out.
I spent a lot of time and travel roundin’ up that sprout.

So far I’d been the only one who’d suffered consequence.
The little nipper had to quit his crawlin’ through the fence.
I hatch a plan for attitude adjustment bovine style.
While sawin’ boards and poundin’ nails I break into a smile.

A set of cross-hatched timbers ‘round his neck will let him know
fence breachin’ calves will end up like a walkin’ tic-tac-toe.
He puts up quite a struggle and needs tyin’ in a stall.
He tells me he’s not happy with his beller and his bawl.

I hang tough in the tussle then I stand back to admire
the newly crafted neckwear of this juvenile’s attire.
He shakes his head and dances tryin’ to ditch what he can’t see.
I get an inspiration ‘fore I go and set him free.

The house has boxes filled with Christmas spillin’ on the floor.
I find an ancient wreath that we aren’t usin’ anymore.
It gets this one last chance to shine, tho’ some think it’s a wreck.
‘twill spread the cheer of Christmas ‘round that whippersnapper’s neck.

The boards are bulky, addin’ weight that agitates his mood.
I’m finally feelin’ good about my chances in this feud.
If stubborn rules and there’s no change in his fence-crawlin’ spree,
next year he’ll end up draggin’ ‘round a whole darn Christmas tree.

© 2013, Marleen Bussma
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.




The Best Christmas Gift

Christmas Eve dawned cold an' gray
with a light dustin' of snow,
wind howlin' in a lonesome way
at the blue moon's watery glow.

Ol' Cooky had stoked the fire
an' sweetened the coffee pot.
The flames slowly burned higher,
stubborn about getting' hot.

Soon, we'd get the call fer grub,
then the button fetched our rides.
He would tighten up the snub,
as we cinched our kaks on them hides.

One by one we headed out
fer the headquarters' shindig.
Amongst us, there was no doubt
that Cooky would fetch his rig.

Fer he'd need supplies an' such
to get us through the season.
Took his time, didn't hurry much,
'cuz, he had another reason.

He planned to take it sorta slow,
so that dogie would trail along.
Didn't want us to make a show
an' allow that he was wrong.

See, that dogie had showed up
when the weather had turned cold.
Cooky treated him like a pup,
told us straight out, purty bold,

"This dogie is a good sign!
come to see us on our way,
'spect he's strayed from some nester's twine
to join up with us this day."

Wal, we'd rode on, knowin' he'd come,
soon as he got that dogie fed.
"He's in good shape, been petted some."
That there's what Ol' Cooky said.

We tarried a-bit on the trail,
so Cooky would catch-up to us.
An' he come on without fail,
just gripin', put up quite a fuss!

'Bout sundown, we crossed the creek,
an' found nesters campin' there.
A ragged bunch an' purty meek,
heads bowed as if in prayer.

We should've sent them packin',
but dadgumit, it's Christmas Eve.
Their fire was just a cracklin',
we just could not make them leave.

Then a sorta cry rang out,
an' a little crippled girl
on wood crutches gave a shout!
Wal, that dogie gave a whirl.

Her sweet pet had come back home
'cuz she'd asked Jesus for his return.
She'd been sad when he chose to roam,
for his safety, she had concern.

An' such blubberin', you never seen,
as she hugged that dogie's neck.
There they stood, dogie an' Queen.
Ol' Cooky was shore a wreck.

Then that dang gal gave him a hug,
said this was her best Christmas gift.
She squeezed him purty snug,
Ol' Cooky blubbered an' sniffed.

We all seemed to blink a tear
as she hugged that calf again.
Nesters an' cowboys shared the cheer
on that Christmas Eve back then.

Wal, we just camped there that night,
stars just a shinin' above.
Christmas Day dawned merry an' bright,
with the promise of Jesus' love.

© 2013, Jim Cathey
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.



Santa's Special Gift

That old mama cow got her times mixed up
and that calf was born in the winter—
the little black angus was having it rough,
wasn't sure if he'd make it to Chrirstmas dinner.

Oh, I didn't mean having him for dinner—
he was just having trouble struggling to his feet.
He'd just work his way up, be wobbling there,
and then fall back on his seat.

We were just about to give up on him,
when I heard jingling on the snowy air,
and before I knew it I looked around
and I saw old Santy there.

He shook his head, he was looking grave—
Said, "Jake, I don't have much to say,
but we got to get this little feller warm,
for he's a gift for everyone's Christmas Day."

He pulled out a long, long velvety robe
and wrapped that calf up and held him close,
sang him a sort of range lullaby
and that young calf rested in sweet repose.

Santy hung a small wreath 'round his neck
and kissed him on top of his head—
"Ya, know the cattle were in Bethlehem
along with the sheep and shepherds," he said.

"This little fella is a special reminder
of a night long ago, far away—
I think he'll be doing fine just now—
and, Jake, have a good Christmas Day."

© 2012, Jean Mathisen Haugen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


Little Buddy

It’s true I don’t send Christmas cards to bulls
but for this one I’d make an exception.
For it would be less than was dutiful
to overlook the bright recollection

of Little Buddy, a late summer calf
who was loaded with curiosity.
For giving the winter crew a good laugh
he was one of great virtuosity.

The boss had been into town one cold day
in the merriest month of December
and bought a wreath to deck the holiday,
as his wife had asked him to remember.

He never did things by halves, did our boss
and bought all that money could render him.
The wreath was more fit for giant ring-toss
than as a holiday season door trim.

He hefted it from the bed of his truck
and proved deaf to our good-natured ribbing.
He leaned the wreath face-down against the fence.
Now this next part, you might think I’m fibbing

but I swear it’s all true. Little Buddy,
the late summer calf, had to check it out.
He approached. His nose, snotty and cuddy,
prodded the evergreen ring. On about

his third try he somehow poked his head through.
It fit like a glove, but when he pulled back
the darn thing stuck! What a hullabaloo
rose up from us hands! Festive brick-a-brack

held that bull in a ring. Ah, to behold
balls of silver, red and gold, and ribbon
of velvet that spruced up the green. Retold
in bovine a Christmas tale was given

as Buddy bawled pitifully. We just
about fell down with laughter as he leapt
to get free of his confinement unjust.
The boss threw a heel loop to intercept

the tormented little fellow. Once freed
Little Buddy ran to his Ma and she
nuzzled him ‘til he was soggy. Decreed
by the boss, Buddy stayed with the herd. He

grew to be a sturdy bull and escaped
the rubber band, as the boss wanted us
to remember Buddy’s Christmas time scrape.
For when the holidays overwhelm us,

a little silly bull is all we need
to restore us to feeling boisterous.

© 2013, S. D. Matley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Thanks to all who participated.

Merry Christmas!


The Legend of Little Buddy the Christmas Steer

I'll tell you a tale of the ol' frontier,
a story of sorts filled with lotsa good cheer,
back before Santa an' all his reindeer
was the legend of Buddy the Christmas steer.

Some say he was born in the snow an' the cold,
yeller an' white with a heart made of gold.
His mom was part Angus his dad was a polled
Hereford I hear (er so I been told).

Don't know where he come from, he always was there,
sorta popped up outta pure prairie air.
An' just how he knew the when an' the where
to do what he did...we don't really care.

'Cause when things got dark at the end of the year,
with six foot of snow, why, who 'ould appear
with a sled fulla presents an' Yuletide beer???
'r own little Buddy the Christmas steer.

He dint miss no one he visited all
the ranches and homesteads, the big an' the small.
He'd stop at each cabin an' let out a bawl
so folks 'ould come out for their Christmas haul.

When Buddy appeared their eyes opened wide.
The kids 'ould all clammer all over his hide
while the folks 'ould come carry the presents inside
an' bring him fresh hay with water beside.

He did this for years for count beyond end,
when Christmas rolled 'round in winter's slow wend,
If you needed a present 'er just a good friend,
on ol' little buddy you sure could depend.

'Til finally, one Christmas (retirement near),
he passed on the reins, at the turn of the year,
to a short hairy fat guy with eight tiny reindeer...
(more 'n one cowboy shed more 'n one tear).

Ever' once in a while, on a Christmas Eve clear,
(for those who believe...for who Christmas is dear),
He'll make an appearance with presents and beer,
Good ol' Little Buddy the Christmas Steer.

© 2012, DW Groethe,
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


"Little Buddy" was DW Groethe's 2013 Christmas card. The front of the card, with "Little Buddy's Christmas Express":

Inside the card:

The back of the card:



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