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About Dale Marion Wykoff




The Greenhorn Way

Now, I am not a cowboy and I never meant to be.
I'm just a green horned city boy. Forever I'll decree.
But when my wife's dad asked for me to help out on his spread,
I couldn't say no, after all he's done for me, and so I said,
"Sure I'll go. I know that I can handle such a task
for one day maybe two or three. That's not too much to ask."

So, out we went away from town, from lights, from home, my bed,
away from all that's civilized. But still I had no dread
or fear of things that were to come from cowboy life and work,
and I was feeling pretty good when the truck stopped with a jerk.

But soon I was upon a horse who didn't like my kind.
He knew I was no cowboy and didn't pay no mind
to what I wanted him to do. But still we punched those cows,
though, I admit he did the work, although I don't know how.

And when time came to quench his thirst at the clear cool water hole,
the horse knew what he wanted, and I completely lost control.
He stamped and stomped and wallered just to cool his belly down,
and muddied up the water for the rest who, with a frown,
began to parley with my dad-in-law about what's to be done.
"Give him one more chance," he said, "since he's pert near my son."

So, now I had to work real hard to show this ornery mount
that I was boss, and we were here to round up cows for count.
I jerked and pulled and slapped the reins to make him understand,
and we were moving all those cows as fast as blowing sand.

Uncle Vance was at the gate and counting pretty slow,
and I was moving cattle toward him fast as we could go.
So when my bunch arrived for count, what happened was quite sad.
The fence got mashed, the gate got smashed, and Uncle Vance got mad.

Another talk with dad-in-law was quickly summoned up.
He tried again to give defense for his log-headed son-of-a-stump.
"No way Jose!" they yelled to him, while Uncle Vance spit muck.
"Get that green horned city slicker back into that truck!"

So, no more riding horse that day, just driving through the dust.
Behind the hundred head I slowly drove that pile of rust.
I wasn't riding herd again, or tossing ropes around.
I didn't yippee-kiyi-yeh or even make a sound.

But, though my cow punch days were gone, I almost had to laugh,
for in the pickup bed I saw a newborn baby calf.
And if I cannot ride, and rope, and do the things they say,
I'll do some honest work and herd a cow the green horned way.

2006, Dale Marion Wykoff
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Inspired from my real life experiences with Oscar and Vance Black on their
McGregor Range ranch near El Paso


Dale told us:  The inspiration for "The Greenhorn Way" came from a short ranching experience I had with my father-in-law. In the early 1970's he and his brother, Vance, were operating a cattle ranch on McGregor Range southeast of Alamogordo, New Mexico. Oscar asked me to help out one weekend as they moved the cattle from one section to another. I knew nothing about western cattle ranching and quickly caused "trouble on the range". The whole experience was indelibly painted on my mind and somehow turned into a poem. It is the only cowboy poem I've attempted to write.


About Dale Marion Wykoff:

I claim Florida, Georgia, and Alabama as home states, having grown up there in the 1950's and 60's. I knew the west only through movies and TV. My introduction to the real west came during my time stationed in the army at Ft. Bliss, Texas. I met my wife, Lucy Black, while attending church in Las Cruces, New Mexico and through her family, learned something about western farming and ranching. Her father, Oscar, was a west Texas farmer near Pecos, and owned a ranch north of Silver City, New Mexico, and I was roped into his
various farm / ranch businesses.



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