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Welcome to our fifteenth annual Christmas at the BAR-D!

We keep Christmas throughout the season, with continual additions of news, poetry, songs, and more. 

Along with the poetry, songs and more (newest poetry and songs here) we post holiday news and features below.

Christmas poem and song submissions were welcome through December 15, 2014. Submissions are now closed. Selected poems will be posted below, throughout the season.

 The perfect gifts: The BAR-D Roundup CDs

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Eight is a 2-disc collection of the best classic and contemporary Christmas cowboy poetry.

Find information about each of our collections of classic and contemporary cowboy poetry here.

There are also special offers for bundles, including a deeply discounted price for available CDs (Volumes One and Two are sold out):

 

A Year-end Message

An urgent challenge donation ... your help is needed, now.

This past year, did you find things at CowboyPoetry.com that interested you? Did you visit for poetry, news, event information, features? Was your own poem included at the BAR-D? Was your local gathering announced, or were you a part of a gathering report? Did we share your news with our many visitors?

Your support is vital to the existence of CowboyPoetry.com and the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry.

If you enjoy features such as Christmas at the BAR-D,  if you care, if you can, there's no better time to show your support.

All that happens at the BAR-D is made possible by the essential contributions of generous supporters: CowboyPoetry.com; Cowboy Poetry Week and its annual Western art poster; The BAR-D Roundup compilation CD; and the Rural Library Project that distributes posters and CDs to rural libraries. We've received generous donations of $10 and donations of $1000; and we are grateful for them all. 

Please become a supporter with a tax-deductible donation, perhaps in memory of someone who treasured our Western Heritage: Make a difference.

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As in all journalistic endeavors, no editorial preference is given to financial sponsors or supporters.

 

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Your support is essential to CowboyPoetry.com.
Be a part of it all here at the BAR-D.

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Poetry, Songs, Stories, Links and More, below    updated 12/24

Christmas News and More   updated 12/24

Western Christmas Books and Music (separate page)   


Find holiday events on our Events calendar


 


Christmas/Winter Art Spur

 


© 2010, Steve Devenyns; this painting should not be reposted or reproduced without permission; www.stevedevenyns.com
"Wake up Call"

Our thirty-ninth Art Spur piece offered to "spur" the imagination—a special Winter / Christmas Art Spur—is "Wake up Call," a painting by noted Western artist Steve Devenyns (www.stevedevenyns.com).

Submissions were welcome from all through Monday, December 22, 2014. Find selected poems here and see our feature here about Steve Devenyns.

Find past Winter/Christmas Art Spur subjects here.

 


Christmas News and More


See the Events calendar for Christmas events.

Your Christmas news is welcome; email us

 

 

 

A special gift for Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio listeners, from Jim and Andy Nelson: great Christmas cowboy poetry, music, humor, and more on a special preview of their Christmas show: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; and Part 4.
 


"A Christmas at the TE Ranch," by Nancy McClure, Points West Online (blog) from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, December 21, 2014


  "Christmas and Xmas, Solstice and Pagans," by Linda Hasselstrom, windbreakhouse.com,  December 21, 2014


  "We Come Bearing Gifts" at Rod Miller's blog.


  An All-Star Christmas Special with Belinda Gail and Friends

"Blessed Trails with Belinda Gail" on Equestrian Legacy Radio, an All-Star Christmas Special with Belinda Gail and her guests Kip Calahan, Gary Brown, Jean Prescott, Barry Ward, Bill Lindsay, Devon Dawson, Diane Tribitt, and R.W. Hampton.

Join Belinda with her Special Guests for a Christmas Special you won't forget as they share Christmas Memories and Songs of the Season!
 


  "Cowboy Christmas Carol" by Baxter Black; the latest column at BaxterBlack.com   


"Badlands glow at Cowboy Christmas," by Jack Zaleski, Inforum, December 13, 2014

"Restrained decorations full of hot air," by Jessie Veeder,
Inforum, December 12, 2014 


From Chuckaroo the Buckaroo:

COWBOY CHRISTMAS IS ON THE AIR!

Bundle up tight and join us fer a ride down the Cowboy Christmas Trail on station NFLY-No Fly Radio, on the Spalding Labs Radio Network.

There’s a holiday song about every 10 minutes featurin’ yer favorite performers like Gene Autry, Jon Chandler, Mary Kaye, RW Hampton, Riders In The Sky, Waddie Mitchell, Don Edwards, The Sons Of The Pioneers, Red Stegall, Charlie Daniels, Asleep At The Wheel, Baxter Black, Brenn Hill, Michael Martin Murphey, Wylie Gustafson, and many, many more.

Cowboy poetry, tall tales, and toe-tappin’ tinsel tunes will air 24 hours a day until December 26.

For a special treat we’ll be airin’ Christmas songs & poetry exclusively on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. So grab an eggnog or hot buttered rum, curl up by the woodstove and enjoy the sounds of the season at: http://vjam5.spalding-labs.com.


  Hugh McLennan's "Spirit of the West" radio, here, for the week of 12/13 (and later available in the archive), presents:

A ranching and rodeo legend, Larry Sands is back with more stories this week and you'll hear several songs about Christmas in Cattle country along with a beautiful piece of cowboy poetry about a ranching family that will really get those Christmas feelings flowing. A quiet gentle ranch horse bucked his rider off and Hugh explains why on the Horse Training file and Baxter Black discusses the on going debate between nutritionists and vets.

" Author tells history of Anson's Christmas Ball," theeagle.com, December 14, 2014


80th Consecutive Re-Enactment of the Anson Cowboys' Christmas Ball
 


Canada's Corb Lund (corblund.com; Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans) performs a new Christmas song in a YouTube video, "Just Me and These Ponies (for Christmas This Year."
 


  Rick Huff reviews Andy Nelson's new Christmas CD, Santa's Hired Hand, saying, in part, "Once again the traditional Nelson stocking is stuffed with relevance, irreverence and rear evidence....You’d better prepare to get your jingle jangled somewhere along the trail..." Read the entire review here.


  Jane Morton's beautiful poem, "Spirit of Christmas," appears in the December issue of Colorado Country Life magazine. Read the poem here.


  View a moving piece, "Christmas Giving," from top cowboy chuck wagon cook, poet, and storyteller Kent Rollins here on Youtube.


  Each year, Jeri Dobrowski's Cowboy Jam Session columns for December and November feature great Western Christmas picks.

Read the Cowboy Jam Session columns here.



     Find a large selection of Cowboy Christmas books and recordings here.

See other new releases of books and recordings in our news here, in Jeri Dobrowski's Cowboy Jam Session, and in Rick Huff's Best of West Reviews.


  Western radio celebrates Christmas:

Jim and Andy Nelson's Clear Out West (C.O.W) radio; ClearOutWest.com. Christmas cowboy music and poetry throughout the season.

 Totsie Slover's Real West from the Old West; Deming Radio
Christmas cowboy music and poetry throughout the season.

Charley Engel's Flying SL Ranch Radio from Spalding Labs  
streams Christmas music and poetry throughout the season.

Jarle Kvale's Back at the Ranch: Back at the Ranch podcast
Christmas music and poetry throughout the season.

Waynetta Ausmus' Waynetta's Roundup; Waynetta's Roundup
Christmas music and poetry throughout the season.

Hugh McLennan's Spirit of the West; Hugh-McLennan.com
Christmas music and poetry throughout the season.

  Graham Lees' Western Hour; Western Hour
Christmas music and poetry throughout the season.

  Judy James' Western Heritage Radio and Cowboy Jubilee; JudyJamesradio.com; Christmas music and poetry throughout the season.

 Jim Thompson's Live! with Jim Thompson; LiveWithJT.com; Christmas music and poetry throughout the season.


 

(Information about radio shows is welcome. Email us.)

 




 

Poems, Songs, Stories and More

New poems and songs along with selected classic and contemporary favorites
from past years' celebrations and audio and video links to poetry and music,
 with posts throughout the season.

Find more on Facebook:

Find a complete list with links to all the holiday poems posted starting in 2000 here.

Newest below.


Selections to date:

"Christmas Waltz" by Buck Ramsey

"Here's to the Cowboys" by Pat Richardson

"Santa's Hired Hand" by Andy Nelson

"A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer" by S. Omar Barker

"Depression Oranges" by Jo Lynne Kirkwood

"Panic at the Pole or Jake Rides Again" by DW Groethe

"Old-time Montana Christmas for Cowboys" by Stan Howe

On page two:

"Line Camp Christmas" by S. Omar Barker

"Christmas on the Trail" by Hal Swift

"The Perfect Gift" by Yvonne Hollenbeck

"The Old Time Christmas" by Bruce Kiskaddon

"Night Before Christmas on the West Texas Plains" by Waddie Mitchell

"Christmas Magic?" by Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns

"The Christmas Catch" by Perry Williams

"Christmas Diamonds for a Cowgal" by Linda Nadon

"The Old Dog's Christmas" by Kay Kelley Nowell

"Bringing in the Christmas Tree" by Dan "Doc" Wilson

"Christmas Gift from God" by Jim Cathey

"Christmas in a Cowboy Town" by Jean Mathisen Haugen

"First Christmas for a Cowboy" by Bill Hickman

"Christmas for Folks Down the Road" by C.W. (Charles) Bell

ART SPUR:
"Wake Up Call" by Don Hilmer of South Dakota
"Ridin' Plumb Into Luck" by Dennis Russell of New Mexico
"Stewards of the Land" by James Cathey of Texas
"The Little Christmas Stray" by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming
"Well Howdy Little Feller" by Tom Swearingen of Oregon
"To Our Fellow Creatures" by Susan Matley of Washington
 

"Christmas Memories" by Jane Morton

"'Neath a Christmas Eve Sky" by Rod Nichols

"Gifts in the Hay" by Deanna Dickinson McCall

"Prairie Silent Night" by Curly Musgrave

"The Christmas Trail" by Badger Clark

"Merry Christmas" by Bruce Kiskaddon


Merry Christmas, all!

 



Find a complete list with links to all the holiday poems posted starting in 2000 here.


 

 

Contemporary classic: from the archives

It is our Christmas tradition to launch Christmas at the BAR-D with the modern classic, Christmas Waltz, by Buck Ramsey (1938-1998). A National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, Buck Ramsey has been called "the spiritual leader of modern cowboy poetry."

We're honored to have Buck Ramsey's recording on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 8
.

Find a sample of the song here at Smithsonian Folkways, where it is included in  Hittin' the Trail," a collection of his music and poetry. The song, recorded in 1995 is introduced:

Buck's "Christmas Waltz" became an instant cowboy Christmas classic. Peregrine Smith Books published it in a small book format in 1996. Buck grew up in a singing family, and his sisters were well known for their gospel singing. We can hear the Primitive Baptist shaped note singing roots of the Ramsey family as Buck is joined on this beautiful recording by his sisters Wanda, Ellen, and Sylvia, and his younger brother Charles.

Find the entire liner notes here at the Smithsonian Folkways site.

photo of Buck Ramsey by Scott Braucher
 

Christmas Waltz

The winter is here and the old year is passing,
The sun in its circle winds far in the south.
It's time to bring cheer to a cold, snowbound cow camp,
It's Christmas tree time of the year for the house.

Go ride to the cedar break rim of a canyon,
Down by where the river takes creek water clear,
And saddle-sleigh home us a fine shapely evergreen
Picked out while prowling the pasture this year.

While Fair strings the berries and popcorn and whatnots
And Ty braids the wreaths out of leather and vines,
Old Dunder, he whittles and whistles old carols
And fills them with stories of fine olden times.

He talks of a baby boy born in a cow shed,
All swaddled in tatters and laid in a trough,
Who, growing up, gave away all he could gather
And taught us that what is not given is lost.

It's morning of Christmas and long before dawning
The camp hands are risen to ready the feast.
But with the fires glowing they don warm apparel
And go out to gaze on the Star of the East.

They cobbler the plums they put up back in summer,
They bake a wild turkey and roast backstrap deer,
They dollop the sourdough for rising and baking,
And pass each to each now the brown jug of cheer.

The dinner is done and they pass out the presents,
Their three each they open with handshakes and hugs,
Then Ty gets his guitar and Fred gets his fiddle
While Dunder and Fair laugh and roll back the rugs.

The tunes that they play melt the chill from the winter
As Dunder and Fair waltz and two-step along.
They play, sing and dance till the next morning's dawning
Then all of the their slumbers are filled with this song.

© 1996, Buck Ramsey, All Rights Reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.
 

Find more about Buck Ramsey in our feature here.

Contemporary: from the archives

  This poem by Pat Richardson—California poet, humorist, artist, cowboy, and former Pro Rodeo Sports News cartoonist—is also included on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 8.

Known for his deadpan delivery of his humorous poems, Baxter Black has said of Pat Richardson's poetry, "If you boiled cowboy poetry down to what's worth savin', this is what the stew would smell like."

Find some of Pat's poetry and more about him and his book and recordings here at CowboyPoetry.com and visit his site at www.poetpatrichardson.com.
 

Here's to the Cowboys

Here's to the cowboys I've known in my lifetime,
all the tough hands that lived on the fringe.
They weren't much to look at, and darn hard to open
'cause it seems most were just hung with one hinge.

I know you're thinkin', "They're too hard to handle."
but pardner that's where you are all wrong.
They'll come to getcha come Hell or high water
and you're dang glad that they happened along.

When the going got tough, they loved the excitement
though they never quite knew what was in store.
They'd make some joke, "Put your oars in the water
and by God don't you be rowing for shore."

A cowboy can stand a whole lot more than most:
lump jaws, hoof rot, and orn'ry old critters,
but when it comes time, to reel in your line,
the thing they can't stand are the quitters

So here's to the cowboys I've known in my lifetime
that could handle a horse, a rope or a steer
I'd drink to their health if they had any left—
"So Merry Christmas, cowboys, and Happy New Year."

© 2006, Pat Richardson, All Rights Reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.
 

 

Contemporary: from the archives

  Award winning poet, humorist, and Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio host Andy Nelson has a great new Christmas CD, Santa's Hired Hand. Rick Huff reviews it, saying, in part, "Once again the traditional Nelson stocking is stuffed with relevance, irreverence and rear evidence....You’d better prepare to get your jingle jangled somewhere along the trail..." Read the entire review here.

Find more about Andy and his recordings and books here at CowboyPoetry.com and visit his site, www.cowpokepoet.com.

Here's his CD's title poem:

Santa's Hired Hand

Santa's been busy, runnin’ ‘round dizzy,
each Christmas he falls way behind;
So, to help him out, with his western route,
he hired a hand of some kind.

A few things may change, out there on the range,
but presents will come all the same;
So please be advised, and don't be surprised,
When you find it weren’t Santa that came.

Cuz there’ll be no sleigh, on this Christmas day,
instead he’ll come in a wagon;
And different this year, there’ll be no reindeer,
mules will be hooked up a draggin’.

You'll not hear his shout, echoing about,
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and so on;
As Bonnie and Clyde, take over the ride,
with Jim, Jake, Dan, and Deon.

The only glowing nose, is the one that goes,
on the face of Santa's new hand;
It's frosty out there, in the sub-zero air,
High above open range land.

His fingers get cold, the reins hard to hold,
so please have hot coffee, no cream;
Leave jerky instead, of cookies and bread,
and oats for the rest of his team.

He don't care much, for "carols" or such,
he likes cowboy poetry best;
So play a few tracks, from Waddie or Bax,
and give him a minute to rest.

Then he’ll go back to work, with nary a shirk,
and fill stockings until they heave;
With rasps and hoof picks, mineral salt licks,
worm paste, and a new OB sleeve.

His bowl full of jelly, oversized belly,
Pushes his pants down when he bends;
His trousers may sag, when he opens his bag,
Embarrassing family and friends.

He wears woolly chaps, a Fudd cap with flaps
And a Carhartt coat on his back;
His dog is his elf, rides next to himself,
with toys stuffed into a grain sack.

The Grinch doesn't dare, come in anywhere,
Santa's hired hand might be roaming;
There’s a .44 mag, inside of his bag,
and he learned to shoot in Wyoming.

He’s the best hired hand in all of the land,
though you’ll not see a stranger sight;
He’ll shout through his doin’s, “Merry Christmas to you’ns,
and to alla your’ns a good night!”

© 2009, Andy Nelson, All Rights Reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

 


Classic, from the archives:

S. Omar Barker (1895-1985) wrote one of the best known and best loved Christmas poems:

A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer

I ain't much good at prayin',
   and You may not know me, Lord—
For I ain't much seen in churches,
   where they preach Thy Holy Word.
But you may have observed me 
   out here on the lonely plains,
A-lookin' after cattle, 
   feelin' thankful when it rains.

Admirin' Thy great handiwork.
   the miracle of the grass,
Aware of Thy kind Spirit,
   in the way it comes to pass 
That hired men on horseback
   and the livestock that we tend 
Can look up at the stars at night,
   and know we've got a Friend.

So here's ol' Christmas comin' on,
   remindin' us again
Of Him whose coming brought good will
   into the hearts of men.
A cowboy ain't a preacher, Lord,
   but if You'll hear my prayer,
I'll ask as good as we have got 
   for all men everywhere.

Don't let no hearts be bitter, Lord.
   Don't let no child be cold.
Make easy the beds for them that's sick
   and them that's weak and old.
Let kindness bless the trail we ride,
   no matter what we're after,
And sorter keep us on Your side,
   in tears as well as laughter.

I've seen ol' cows a-starvin'—
   and it ain't no happy sight;
Please don't leave no one hungry, Lord,
   on Thy Good Christmas Night—
No man, no child, no woman,
   and no critter on four feet
I'll do my doggone best 
   to help you find 'em chuck to eat.

I'm just a sinful cowpoke, Lord—
   ain't got no business prayin'
But still I hope you'll ketch a word
   or two, of what I'm sayin':
We speak of Merry Christmas, Lord—
   I reckon You'll agree—

There ain't no Merry Christmas
   for nobody that ain't free!
So one thing more I ask You, 
   Lord: just help us what You can
To save some seeds of freedom 
   for the future Sons of Man!

© S. Omar Barker; in 2013, the S. Omar Barker Estate let us know that this poem is now considered in the public domain.

A December 23, 1998 article by Ollie Reed Jr. in the Albuquerque Tribune, "Church on the Range," includes a comment on the poem from Barker's niece, Jodie Phillips:

Jodie Phillips said she never heard Barker talk about what inspired him to write the Christmas prayer, but she thinks it's based on his own brand of theology.

"There were no churches where Omar grew up," she said. "He believed in God, and I think he had a very strong religious conviction. But he belonged to no sect. He never went to church services."

We were thrilled to include a vintage recording of Jimmy Dean's recitation of the poem on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Eight, a collection of Christmas cowboy poetry.  Jimmy Dean recites "A Cowboy Christmas Prayer here on YouTube.

Find more about S. Omar Barker and many more of his poems poems in our feature here.


photo © S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, 
further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.
S. Omar and Elsa Barker

 


 

New in 2014:

  Utah storyteller and rural teacher Jo Lynne Kirkwood tells a story inspired by an actual event relayed to her when she was a child, by her mother. Her annual Christmas cards with their impressive drawings are always a Christmas treat.

Find more about Jo Lynne Kirkwood and her recordings (including A Cedar Ridge Christmas ) and book here at CowboyPoetry.com and visit her site, www.jokirkwood.com.

Depression Oranges

The old-timers tell a Christmas story, from 1933
When the cattle market had gone way down, had almost ceased to be
So there simply was no money. There weren't two ways about it;
If it took cash to get it, you were going to do without it.

And with Christmas fast approaching, the outlook was quite grim.
The Sears and Roebuck catalog came, but hopes and dreams were slim.
And folks, they told their children this year Santa was too poor
To bring them gifts. But the kids all knew he had always come before.

The north part of Arizona is a pretty lonely place.
There's more cattle there than people; it's far from the rat race
Of cities, and urban commerce. But some feller in a truck
Drove clear up from Phoenix, hoping to make a buck.

He came from southern Arizona where citrus grows on trees,
And pulled up to my grandpa's house late on Christmas Eve.
Perhaps it was just happenstance. But he filled a wooden crate
With oranges for every house in town. Brought them 'round to their front gates.

It was snowing on the mountain, and he needed a place to stay,
So there was an orange in every stocking, when kids woke up on Christmas day.
Popcorn strung on a Douglas Fir, treats that were homemade,
Carols sung around the fire, all helped to persuade

That though their parents had no money, proof that Santa's real
Might be summed up in the essence of a pungent orange peel.
Sometimes a story changes. Oh, he showed up on Christmas Eve,
and maybe was looking for a place to stay, or they just wouldn't let him leave.

But in either version, the outcome is the same.
He spent Christmas with us, and we never knew his name.
And it might have been a miracle, because that Christmas Santa's sack
Filled up and overflowed the bed of that big Mack.

And little kids at Christmas, they wish, and they believe,
And they stay awake and watch to see a man on Christmas Eve.
That year Santa had no reindeer. He had no sleigh or sled;
He showed up with Christmas in a big Mack truck instead.

© 2014, Jo Lynne Kirkwood
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.



© 2014, Jo Lynne Kirkwood
 

Jo Lynne tells that the truck design is based on a local trucking company's 1933 Mack truck.



New in 2014:

 Montana ranch hand, poet, and picker DW Groethe sent a Christmas card, the twentieth in a series, which should be seen and held in hand to appreciate all of its art. He calls this year's poem "Panic at the Pole or Jake Rides Again." 

Find more about DW Groethe and his books and recordings here at the BAR-D.


© 2014, DW Groethe

 

Panic at the Pole or Jake Rides Again

Our tale begins

Part I

At the far reach of north,
in a castle of ice,
ol' Santa was checkin'
who's naughty, who's nice.
Gettin' things ready for
his yearly trek,
when he slipped on a yo-yo...
proceeded to wreck.
He flew thru the air
with the greatest of ease,
(like that daring young man
on the flying trapeze),
an' when he alit,
midst the bric an' the brac,
he sprained both his ankles
an' knocked out his back.

Well, this was a fine sorta
how do ya do,
a day before Christmas,
the place like a zoo.
So he quick gathered elves,
said, “we're in a bad fix.
We don't figger somethin'
the trip is mox nix!”
Ol' Nick wasn't kiddin',
his elves, as a rule,
they won't answer up
to just any ol' fool.
Their eyes all a'twinkle,
them elves knew from right,
with no one to ramrod...
no Christmas Eve night!
They pondered, they worried,
went into kanipts.
They wrangled, they dangled,
they threw holy fits.
Till over the din
rose a voice, with a shake,
“spose maybe we could
get 'r cowboy friend, Jake?”

---whoa---

It got re-e-e-eal quiet,

like they'd turned off their ears.
Then grins started grinnin'
an' yowls became cheers.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Part II

Let us consider
'r hero so bold,
it's winter, Montana,
the calves have been sold.
An' other than feedin'
an' breakin' some ice,
he spends his time readin'
an' slaughterin' mice,
with rarely, nay nary
a care on this earth...
then elves started knockin'
for all they was worth.
His door took a jump
an' then blew out a knot.
From his seat at the table
Jake flew like a shot.

He opened the door,
just a crack, to look see
at what sorta terror
this uproar might be.
But, there wasn't no bad guys
or gun slingin' jerks,
just hunderds of elves...
all decked out in smirks.

So-o-o-o...


Part III

We're back at the pole
with ol' Jake in the sleigh,
pertendin' that this is
a straight workin' day.
That sleighs hitched to reindeer
is normal as not
an' the fact that they fly
is a thought that ya got
to bury right deep
when yer used to a critter
that hits on all fours
an' don't up an' go flitter.

Jake called to the reindeer
an' cracked the ol' whip,
“On Thunder, on Rocket,
on Blockhead, an' Snip,
Butterball, move it!”
they moved not a whit.
Just shrugged up their withers
an' settled to sit.
Santa got nervous
an' squintered his eyes,
said, “Jake!...what the heck
did you yell at these guys?”

“Oh...just names of some ponies
I've had in the past.
Some, they was keepers
an' some didn't last...
but I figgered I'd best
holler somethin' I know
to get these darn critters
up off a the snow.”

Santa said, “Reindeer,
they move out right nice.
Just ask 'em to 'git up',
no need to ask twice.”
So, Jake gave a 'git up!'
an' chucked the ol' line...
sweet mother o' mercy.
They lifted right fine.
Off thru the deepenin'
evenin' they flew
with Jake at the reins...
(like he knew what to do).

The elves it seems had
all the homes plotted out.
They'd slip down the chimneys
with presents about,
then come back, arms loaded,
with cookies an' cake,
laughin' an' gigglin'
an' tellin' ol' Jake
how this was the first time
they'd gotten the treats!
(seems Santa was guilty
of hoggin' the sweets).

Into the night they went
stop after stop,
hittin' the roofs with a
whoop an' a plop.
Till somebody squealed
“We're done with 'r shift!
The sack is plumb empty,
we're down to one gift!”
Now, them was the sweetest words
Jake ever heard,
“Tell me who gets it
I'll land this ol' bird!”

The elves let a snicker,
“It says that it's yers,
an' the way the box jingles,
we're bettin' it's spurs!”
Then quick as a flash,
an' quiet as a mouse,
the sleigh was a' landin'
by Jakes' little house.
When he clambered out
he found four monster sacks,
a' chock fulla cookies
an' candies an' snacks.
With thanks all around
fer the job that he'd done,
they cracked the ol' whip
an' was off on the run.

Far away, far away,
fleet in their flight,
the sleighbells of Christmas
were slippin' from sight,
an' Jake?...was left smilin'
in prairie starlight,
once more at his bunkhouse...
Christmas Eve night.

© 2014, DW Groethe
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

Stan Howe, Montana singer, songwriter, musician, storyteller, writer, radio host, auctioneer, Model T authority, and fiddle expert, told us that reading some of our Christmas cowboy poetry reminded him of this piece, which he wrote for the Model T Ford magazine several years ago. Stan has a great collection of stories, The Adventures of Herman & Freida & Their Model T Fords, which is described as, "A collection of short stories about a North Dakota farm family in the 1920s and their lives with their Model T Fords.

The reality in Montana was that in the days of the big ranches prior to 1887 there were probably very few real Christmas celebrations other than a few cowboys gathered in the ranch house or bunk house. No or very marginal mail service in those days, a lot of absentee owners who lived in London or Edinburgh or Omaha and were there during the winter instead of fighting the weather in Montana.

In the days prior to 1887 the North Pacific ran from Wibaux west through the state but had only been completed a couple years earlier and service was still pretty thin. The winter of 1886-1887 changed Montana forever and changed it for the better overall because it killed off the cattle owned by the big ranchers, broke a lot of them and made land available to a lot of the cowboys who had been working for the big outfits. Since the big guys with the money were gone the land was open to settlement by a new crop of cattlemen, the smaller rancher who took care of the cows he owned instead of just running them on the range.

Few of them owned any land, they just "claimed" a portion of the range or ran their cattle with the other small ranchers. Those are the guys who persevered and prospered for a few years until the new railroads came with a new crop of homesteaders who broke the land with the idea of shipping crops out instead of only cattle. That also made land ownership available to those ranchers who had been there for a few years and most of them ended up filing a homestead on the land they had been living on -- where their buildings were, the "Home Place" so to speak.

In Montana, there were thousands of homesteads filed by people who had little intention of putting a plow in the ground. The legal requirement was that you tilled 40 acres. Many of them went out and turned one furrow with a walking plow around 40-50 acres of ground, went to the land office and when asked how much ground they had tilled answered "Around 40 acres." The government agent winked and signed the claim papers. Now they had a headquarters for their cattle operation, probably a place to grow some hay and feed it in the winter time. (I could go on but breakfast and the shop is calling my name. Need to get to work)

The homesteaders and ranchers bought cars pretty early, as my Herman and Freida book points out, the Milwaukee Railroad came west just as the Model T and other cars hit the market and the land along the Milwaukee was homesteaded differently than any other homestead boom because of it. So that's the connection here if there is one.

 

Poems continued on page two


A message of gratitude to you from the BAR-D

 


 

Merry Christmas all!

Thanks to all for a great year filled with poetry, art, photography, music, and the collaboration and friendship of all who share our mission to preserve the arts and life of the real working West.

Thanks for visiting CowboyPoetry.com and for following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks to all who share their words, art, and photographs. Thanks to those who make Cowboy Poetry Week happen throughout the West.

Special thanks to those of you who so importantly support the work of the Center: CowboyPoetry.com, Cowboy Poetry Week, the Rural Library Program, the annual Western art poster, The BAR-D Roundup. It is you, as a part of a vibrant and generous community, who make everything possible here at the BAR-D.

Merry Christmas from the BAR-D to you.
 

 




 

In remembrance of those who left us this year...

Frank Daniel, Ethel Slover, Ted Davis, David Stoecklein, Rib Gustafson, Taylor Robert Nixon,
Carmel Randle, Sue Wallis

 


 



 

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See the links above for holiday news and more; our regular News Since the Last Newsletter is here.

See a complete list of all the holiday poems and songs posted since 2000 here.

Find the list of all the poems at the BAR-D here.

 

 

 

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