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

About Don Cadden
Don Cadden's web site





Shipping pens stand empty; weeds have taken hold.
Rusting irons rest on the fence; the branding pot is cold.
Once filled with life and willing hands when spring works came around,
No horseback cowboys dragging calves now grace this hallowed ground.

The saddle shed is open; one hinge still holds the door;
Rats have taken residence ‘mongst the blankets on the floor;
Saddles sit there waiting, cracked, in need of oil;
Hibernating nylon ropes sleep quietly in their coil.

The catch pen can’t remember when it welcomed horse or man
Or entertained the ritual of hoof and hoolahan,
When shades of grey lit shadowed forms shifting in their hope
To be unseen by peering eyes and a puncher’s hungry rope.

The stove pipe stands a solemn watch o’er cook shack’s sagging form,
Once a welcome port for cowhands seeking solace from life’s storm.
Big blue coffee pot sits rusted; mesquite coals have all died;
Nary scent left of the biscuits that were cocinero’s pride.

Pastures lack mama cows who performed the magic feat
Of raising baby calves, turning bluestem into meat
Ranch roads all grown over; cow trails hard to spot
That guided morning riders in the rhythm of their trot.

Spider webs and dauber nests the only thing in sight
Where ranch kids laughed and played to a mother’s fond delight;
Long home to generations, proud stewards of the land
Now it stands forlorn and vacant, reflecting the progress of man.

Taxes took their greedy toll as generations passed;
Each new fed’ral regulation made life harder than the last.
The populace now urban, wise in nature’s ways no more
Naively thinking that their food comes from the grocery store.

Pens and pasture, barns and house only relics of the past;
Taking care of land and stock just a way that couldn’t last.
Forget about the rancher; regulate him all you can.
Hell, all he ever tried to do was feed his fellow man.

© 2015, Don Cadden
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.


Don comments: As a member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, I have been keeping up with the onerous regulations that this administration is putting on the rancher. The new Waters of the United States regulation and the reinstatement of the Death Tax have been particularly devastating. One morning I saw an old set of pens that were sitting by the road, overgrown and lonely, and this poem just started pouring out. It was one of those that really wrote itself.



  About Don Cadden
     provided 2015

Don and his wife Pam live in the mountains just south of Alpine, Texas. They have had a number of cow/calf operations on leased country over the years, and currently just run a few head on their home place. Don continues to day work on local West Texas ranches, where things are still done horseback.

Don and Pam both serve on the steering committee for the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering (, and Don has performed his poetry and music at the event for the past 26 years. He has participated in other gatherings, including the Arizona Cowboy Poet’s Gathering, The National Cowboy Symposium, The Alberta Cowboy Poetry Gathering, The Texas Folklife Festival, and numerous smaller events.

In 2011, Don produced his latest music and poetry CD, Hombres de Campo, which includes his “Ballad of Ernesto Galvan.” Previous albums included Texas Boy, and Cowcamps & Cantinas. He recently published his first book, Tied Hard & Fast - Apache Adams, Big Bend Cowboy; the biography and stories of a living legend in West Texas. In February of 2014, he was honored to receive the annual Heritage Award from the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, for dedication to perpetuating the words and traditions of Western life.

(See some photos shared by Don Cadden in a 2014 Picture the West.)



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