A Little Bit of Lickin'
This calvin' out of cows is gonna bet the best of me,
the things I know will happen, the things I know I'll see.
Like the other day I'as ridin', my Spook horse saw him first,
flat and black against the snow, it was plain he'd never nursed.
His mother licked and pushed him, tryin' to get him on his feet;
to her it was her baby, not a piece of born dead meat.
I tried to tell her how it was, why he wouldn't rise,
she just looked at me with unbelievin' eyes.
No, they said, I won't believe it so,
with a little bit of lickin' he might get up and go.
Next mornin' I rode by and saw her melted bed,
she'd spent the night in fretful sleep by her baby cold and dead.
I couldn't stand her grievin' so I took the calf away;
she moaned along behind me, beggin' him to stay.
For three days when she saw me, she'd come to make her claim,
her baby calf was missin' and I'as the one to blame.
She was never mean or mad, just overcome with grief, and always when I left her I was shakin' like a leaf.
Cows are dumb, unthinkin' brutes, they don't feel no pain,
they don't know 'bout lovin', so a lot of people claim.
I'd like to have them come with me when the evenin's nice and still,
and listen to that momma, there on yonder hill.
Tell her that cow's don't feel, that their hurtin' isn't so,
and that with a little bit of lickin' he won't get up and go.
© 2002, Earl Sampson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.
We asked Earl how he came to write this poem and he told us: At the time "A Little Bit of Lickin'" was written I was supposedly writing for an agriculture publication. I say supposedly because I gathered material and photos by traveling with a horse and mule in western South Dakota and adjacent areas of North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska. I did write for the publication but saw my first responsibility as being to the people I was staying and working with. Such "work" ranged from calving cows to running wild horses.
One night, about midnight, while waiting to make another check of some first-calf heifers in the corral, I put pen to paper and the poems literally ran out of it and onto the paper. All I had to was keep moving the pen. I have a number of other poems which deal with the things I saw and experienced in my riding.
The cow in the poem was a black momma whose calf had died. I hauled the calf away to keep coyotes from seeing the calving ground as a buffet.
This poem is also included in our collection of poems about Cowboy Moms and Grandmoms (yep, there are other four-legged mom's honored there.
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