Cowboy Poetry and Music and More at the BAR-D Ranch

Orangevale, California
About David Haskell



Forty-Mile-An-Hour Alfalfa

I still wonder what my old man was thinking.
Why he bought this ground at the bottom of a crease.
With the Sierra Nevadas to the west,
and five hundred miles of desert to the east.

The down sloping wind really owns this land,
She's a cruel landlord always asking for more.
And you know it's her coming to collect the rent,
She starts banging on the back porch screen door.

She stampeded my wheel lines late yesterday.
One mile of sprinkler pipe was "on the roll."
She ran them till they jumped all my fences.
I found them wrapped around their favorite power pole.

Now I own five hundred feet of "hippe" pipe art,
With a big "wowie" in every piece.
I guess I'll call "Scrap Iron Eddie."
He might pay me extra for a nice mantle piece.

And my bales are FOB at the neighbors again.
I can't help it if they are downwind from my ranch!
And I know they get tired of selling my hay.
I'll return the favor if I ever get the chance.

Why I keep farming,
I don't even know.
Because forty-mile an hour alfalfa,
It is the toughest hay to grow.

Now some storm clouds are moving up from the south.
A little moisture would help settle the dust.
But the promise of rain was just a joke.
She swept it away with a fifty-mile an hour gust.

And she lets the dust devils play on the ranch.
Her juvenile nephews are rotten to the core.
And when they get done running in my windrows,
I've got nothing, but an alfalfa eyesore.

Now the harvest ants and the horned toads,
They've got it figured, no doubt.
You just let her blow till she's tired,
And then you can just, dig yourself out.

And I wish I could join those lucky horned lizards.
At least they've got somewhere to go!
Because I am trapped up here in my pickup.
Till the landlord collects the rent that I owe.

Now I just loaded twenty tons of discounted hay,
As more TDN disappeared in the wind.
And now my eyeballs need a good washing out,
And my brain just wishes, it would end.

How can one place have this much wind?
Isn't there somewhere else it needs to blow?
Because this forty-mile an hour alfalfa.
It's gotta be the toughest hay to grow!

Now the roof on the hay barn left last night,
And tumbleweeds are pushin my fences down.
I think the landlord is trying to tell my something.
I think it's finally time to move into town.

2010, David Haskell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


FOB-freight on board
TDN-total digestible nutrients


David comments: 

This poem was self-published in a book of poems called Tangled Up in the West. The book has other humorous poems about farming, tractors and working for the government (CAL/EPA) that I wrote over a 30-year period.

The idea for the poem came about when I was visiting a friend of mine that lives on an alfalfa and cattle ranch up in Lassen County, California. It was July and this thunderstorm blew through, dropping lightning and kicking up dust, but not much rain. A few drops and that was it. The wind blows so hard up there that it sand blasts his equipment. Anyway, we had to stay in the pickup so the doors wouldn't get blown off in the 50 mph wind gusts. It seems that the harvest ants and the horned toads are the only animals that survive well in this harsh climate. The down-sloping winds really own this land and the humor is all the ways the landlord collects the rent from the farmer.

I own some desert property near his ranch that I tried to farm, but went bust. But that's another poem, "You Can't Farm With an Aerostar."


About David Haskell:

My mom was raised on a wheat farm in Washington, but my grandparents lost it during the Depression.

I was raised near Los Angeles, but I have always had this strong interest in biology. I spent a summer on a cattle ranch in Utah and that's when I really became interested in farming. I have worked as a pesticide salesman, growers co-op fieldman, agricultural inspector, and now work for the Cal/EPA in pesticide enforcement. I don't really like office work, but that's where I have been stuck for 25 years.

Poetry has been a creative outlet for me compared to the scientific memos and documents that I write for a living. I guess I am tangled up in my farming dreams and the frustration that I can only exist on the periphery as a passionate observer.

 Tangled Up in the West


David Haskell comments:

Tangled Up in the West is a collection of poems based on my experiences and observations with trying to connect to my farming roots.

These poems are an attempt to capture the frustration and humor borne of these experiences set in the cowboy style of rhyming poetry. Some poems also provide insight and technical information on farming, tractors and working for a regulatory agency. As you may notice, my style for writing humor was influenced from reading Mad Magazine as a kid and young adult. The illustration for "Piggy Smith" is a classic example.

Tangled Up in the West is available for $15.95 postpaid from:

David Haskell
9407 Shumway Drive
Orangevale, CA. 95662



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