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

About Doris Bircham




When Jake Got Sick

            Way back in deep snow when ‘twas thirty below,

                        Jake got feelin' right down and out.

            He had some kind of flu and one thing I knew

                        beyond any reasonable doubt,


            chores had to get done and it wouldn't be fun

                        with corrals full of feeders on feed,

            so I felt destined to face into the wind,

                        give my all in this time of great need.


            I worked with our son and was kept on the run,

                        with him there's no standing around.

            I filled pellet pails, helped haul out bales

                        and spread straw on the calves' bedding ground.


            And in spite of the cold, chores were well controlled

                        when I walked in the house at noon

            to find Jake feelin' rough. He said, "I know it's tough

                        but I hope to be back at chores soon."


            Doc told Jake to rest. Jake was doin’ his best,

                        just walked from the couch to the table.

            With his concentration on health's restoration,

                        peel potatoes? No, he wasn't able.


            'Fore he went to see Doc, he ran, didn’t walk;

                        worked himself 'til he's all hide and bone,

            but when Doc said, "Stay in!" he turned weaker'n sin;

                        'twas an effort to pick up the phone.


            I said, "Jake I'm no fool and I'm losin' my cool,

                        though your sickness does cause me sorrow.

            But one thing I ask, is do some light tasks,

                        like get dinner ready tomorrow."


            Well, Jake fried up some steak, put spuds on to bake

                        and generally cooked up a feast,

            but our old feed truck died and when I got inside

                        it was quarter past one at least.


            And for sure you can bet Jake was some upset,

                        said my dawdlin' had messed up his life.

            "Oh, please Lord," I prayed, "make him well, I’m afraid

                        he's startin' to sound like a wife."            

      © 2009, Doris Bircham
      This poems may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Preparation for the Last Roundup

I've heard about prearranged funerals,
          choosing hymns and a strong 6-man crew,
but I'm taking it one step further.
          I'm writing my eulogy too.

I won't say I've been a great mother
          or a kind, ever-loving wife,
'cause when I get really ticked off
          my words can cut like a knife.

I won't mention clubs and committees;
          some things are best left unsaid.
They were boring when I was still living;
          they'll be that much worse when I'm dead.

I don't have a slough of relations
          so mourners won't need many pews.
Those present may groan or chuckle or
          if bored, go ahead, have a snooze.

I hope there won't be any cryin'.
          I've enjoyed this life's give and take,
had good friends and ridden good horses,
          liked my work, mostly got a fair shake.

I've lived where there's creeks, hills and trees,
          never did feel I was confined.
I just hope wherever I'm goin'
          is as good as I'm leavin' behind.

And please don't sing "Lead Kindly Light";
          that's one hymn I just can't abide.
Pick a gospel song light and peppy
          for crossing that Great Divide.

And don't spend a fortune on flowers,
          they last for so little time.
Just a wreath made of sage and barb wire
          or if winter, use spruce boughs or pine.

Stay away from those fancy caskets,
          a rough box of barn wood will do.
Come to think of it, maybe cremation
          would be cheaper and much simpler too.

That way I'll be nothing but ashes
          to scatter on hills near my home
where there's grass, wild flowers and birdsong,
          where the wind can write me a poem.

© 2012, Doris Bircham
This poems may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Doris Bircham comments: Our family ranches in the sparsely populated Cypress Hills of Southwestern Saskatchewan where everybody knows everybody. We attend a lot of funerals and I find it so uplifting when a funeral service focuses on celebrating the deceased person's life every bit as much as it deals with the sadness and loss. This got me thinking about my own funeral and inspired my "tongue-in-cheek" poem.


Country Christmas Concerts

Back in the days of the old country school
          as it was nearing December,
we prepared for our Christmas concert
          and one of the things I remember

is my mother sewing angel costumes
          and stitching my taffeta dress.
The flat iron sat on the cook stove,
          ready when she needed to press.

And at school we recited, sang carols,
          memorized our parts in each play,
hoping when we stood up on stage
          we'd recall what we'd come to say.

We cut streamers out of crepe paper,
          strung popcorn for our Christmas tree,
pumped air in the gas mantle lamp,
          packed in wood so we had enough heat.

Our stage was hauled in from the wood shed,
          the piano made ready for our choir.
Our curtains were flour sack sheets
          hung up on a telephone wire.

Then when the big evening arrived
          kids and parents dressed in their best
and babies often fell asleep
          in a corner on the teacher's desk.

Backstage we changed costumes and giggled,
          excitement growing with each applause,
and after our evening program
          we waited for old Santa Claus.

And Santa somehow always made it
          with wrapped gifts from Eatons and Sears.
He'd pass candy bags to us kids
          then he'd wink and he'd disappear.

And sometimes my Mom made the coffee
          that had to be hauled by sleigh.
She'd pour it hot into a cream can
          then we'd wrap it in blankets and hay.

Then on top of the school’s wood furnace
          that coffee stayed piping hot.
It was poured into earthenware cups
          from a big blue enamel pot.

But what I remember most clearly
          is travelling to concerts by sleigh
with my Dad in front holding the lines
          of his matched team of dapple greys.

And I recall one concert evening,
          when ‘twas twenty something below,
our sleigh tipped on the edge of a drift
          and we all got dumped in the snow.

I still hear the jingle of harness,
          snow crunching beneath horses' feet,
sleigh runners sliding and squeaking
          'cross the prairie's white frozen sheet.

We kept cozy under our blankets
          with a cow hide thrown over top
and my brothers and I would listen
          to the horses' steady clip clop.

Sometimes we would lean away back,
          and look up at the Milky Way,
find the North Star and the Big Dipper
          as we travelled along by sleigh.

And even when snow was drifting
          and the wind had a nasty bite,
I knew my Dad and his team would find
          their way through the stormy night.

Throughout all of those concert years
          monologues and skits often changed
but the message and spirit of Christmas
          and warm feelings have remained.

So now many Christmases later,
          Santa still comes from the North Pole,
we still have the Babe in the manger,
          and the story that never grows old.

© 2012, Doris Bircham
This poems may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



  About Doris Bircham:

From Doris Bircham, 2009:

When Doris and her husband, Ralph ("Jake" in her poems), purchased their ranch on Bear Creek in the Cypress Hills area of Southwestern Saskatchewan, all of their possessions with the exception of fifteen Hereford cows and a second hand piano, fit into the back of a half ton. They raised a son and daughter (both ranching in the area) and Doris says she has been partnered with the same man, same ranch and same prairie wind forever.





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