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HAROLD L. WEBBER
near Sundre, Alberta
About Harold L. Webber

 

 

 

Old Cowboy

I sat down beside him, on a bench placed near the street
I'd see him there each morning, his hair the color of ripened wheat
It stuck out from under a faded ole Stetson hat
The brim didn't have much curl, it stood out kinda flat

He gazed out across the road and out past the parking lot
Pulled a rag from his jeans, wiped his brow like he was hot
"I rode into this town" he said "When it was pretty small
A boarding house, a general store and a livery barn, that's all

"Took to riding for a rancher, back north up in the hills
Broke his horses for him, took a lot of nasty spills
Trailed his cattle up from down old Montana way
Breaking winter ice and feeding cattle for my pay

"This town it took to growing and soon it had a school
And when I saw that teacher maam, I didn't play no fool
I tell you Boy, I shinned my boots and washed my cleanest shirt
Out in that cold river, with a bar of soap I shed all the dirt

"On Saturdays night I met that Gal out on the schoolhouse floor
Every time the fiddle played, I was back and asked for more
Well! We built a home together , way up on Lone Pine creek
Forty years, she shared her love with her boy and girl and me

"She lays up there in the valley, beneath a wooden cross
Jimmy's gone to fort Worth, Betty couldn't stand the loss
But Jimmy phones home once a week, Betty, she writes a lot
He pointed out at the prairie and said, I can almost see the spot

"On the hillside where they laid her, where the bluebells grow
Friend that's where they'll take me, when God says, Time to go!"
I shook his hand and told him, I was honored to hear his tale
As I said good bye, he looked up and whispered
"But my saddle is still not for sale"

2005, Harold L. Webber
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Harold told us:  I wrote this poem one morning about 2:00 AM when I got to thinking of my Dad and a few old cowboy farmer friends up here in the Alberta farm lands west
of Edmonton, where I grew up.  I dedicate this to a man that rode the south prairies in a Gibson form fitter that I was privileged to borrow once in a while.

Here in Alberta, we have reached the 100th birthday of the province and a time when many of our pioneers are going to their rewards. I would guess, thinking of some of those old timers, sort of fit all together into the old cowboy on the street bench.

 

Three Years in a Row

Snow had fallen deep, across our pasture land
180 cattle at the gate, bawling for a hand
No way to get a liner in, backed to the loading dock
The road to the corral was mud, up past the horses sock
Take the portable panels and build up in the yard
 A new corral, out past the house, where the gravel's hard

(Cowboys down in Alberta's south, often work in dust
Up here west of Drayton Valley, it's mud that keeps us bust
Fields sometimes get too wet, to mow rake or bale
"Go help that cow out of the slough, lift her by the tail")

Turned those trucks around and backed up to the chute
Sorting calves from mothers, with water in my boot
These cows have loaded many times, they follow one another
But it gets mighty hard, to pull the calf off of its mother
Mud keeps getting deeper, as the cattle mill around
You slip and slide, not much footing to be found

White faces, yellows, tans and even a black or two
Through the gate and up the ramp, "Boys we're almost through"
"Whoa! Catch that gate, the latch has come undone"
We just about got loaded, without some extra fun
"Grab a horse, bring her back, the drivers suddenly in a rush
Quick, Cut her off, turn her back, before she makes the brush"

Closed the gate behind her, but now she's on the prod
Stay out of her way, give her room or she'll lay you in the mud
Mixed her in a little bunch and moved them all right in
"Throw the gate wide open, let that diesel roar, but don't let it spin
The works all done, I'm glad you cows are gone, but I'll see you in the spring

2005, Harold L. Webber
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Harold told us:  I wrote this poem after getting an early fall snow storm a few years after this had taken place. In fact the wife and I had sold part of the ranch and moved to an acreage. The last few years on the ranch, we leased out the pastures and we had this happen three times. Stuck trucks and the whole muddy works.


Growing Up

I was just a little lad, out on a small dirt farm
Mom, Dad and Granddad, saved me from a lot of harm
Granddad always took the time to teach me a lot of things
Like driving nails into the ground or hear the bird that sings

Dad was gone most the week, cooking for a crew
Baking bread and pies and whipping up a stew
With brother Ed I walked to school out in the country side
Just a mile from home, but I wished that I could ride

Mom was the one I was with, most all of the time
We ran the farm together, trying to make a dime
Ten cows to milk and care for, a separator to turn
Water to carry from the pump, and the wood to burn

Mom took me to Sunday School and taught me how to pray
Spankings I got from her, when all I did was play
When there was work to do and she was sick in bed
I remember when I had one coming and I hid instead

A Shetland pony came one day, so that I could ride
He just about destroyed the barn, when I tied him up inside
It bucked and kicked each time I rode, it was no earthly good
Dad traded it to an Indian fellow, for a lad of fire wood

In my early teens we bought the neighbors riding horse
Nellie, proved to be on of the best I would have of course
I learned to rope and ride a saddle, even how to handle cattle
She could be very stubborn too, getting her to move, often was a battle

We covered a lot of country side, Nellie and me and Ray on Gritt
Moving other peoples cattle, us cowboys always made a hit
In Stony Plain Stampedes parades, we often rode along
Tried to get Stu Davies to ride, after he had sang his song

Worked the chutes and opened gates, to let the bulls and horses back
Pulled flank ropes for cowboys, helped them set their kaks
Set the rope straight or crooked, to get the cow to twist or turn
Not to tight, not to loose, then watch the rider spurring

Vold and Kesler, brought their stock and run the Stony show
The Farmers Day Stampede was the only place to go
People can from far away to watch the cowboys rope and ride
The Natives from Hobbema, Wabamum and Sandy Lake came to oil up their inside

They showed off their prairie chicken dance for the evening crowd
then the Rogers Brothers, played their music good and loud
Time moves on and times do change, sometimes cowboys go to other work
Pounding nails, pushing wheelbarrows, there is no time to shirk

Yes! A kid that played out in the yard, grow into a man
Working here and there, but always makes a hand
Now that kid's got a kid that's all grown up and on his own
Thanks Lord! For letting kids be kids, until to men they've grown

2005, Harold L. Webber
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

Harold told us: The poem, "Growing Up," came about from sitting and remembering to many happenings back on the farm and neighbourhood around Stony Plain, Alberta where I grew up. Some of those sleepless nights do become fruitful as I sit in my loft amid spurs, bits, western art and a lot of western history books.  All this just seems to take ones mind out on old trails and they end up in a poem... Life consists of memories and cowboy poetry puts the past and the present together and keeps a way of life alive.

 

 

 

 

 



About Harold L. Webber:

I was born on March 3, 1934 at home, on the farm, to John Webber, who had immigrated from lower Russia with his parents about 1900.  He married Hennie Hutfilter in 1928 and continued to farm in the Glory Hills area north of Stony Plain, Alberta 'til poor health sent him into other work.

I was raised on the farm near Stony Plain, Alberta. I remember as a kid sitting under a cow, milking, and as the milk splashed into the pail, I would make up a poem or song.  I took my schooling in the two room school a mile away that I rode to and walked many more times than rode.  As a teen I worked the stampede chutes and got in trouble with the rodeo clown in the arena.  The stock contractors at that time were Harry Vold and Reg
Kesler.

I worked heavy equipment, building roads all across Alberta and then on a road maintainer. I drove cattle liner from '54 to '59 and also spent a few years as a brand inspector in the Drayton Valley area during part of the time on the ranch.

I had always wanted to ranch and in 1975, I realized that dream, moving to Drayton Valley, Alberta, buying and running a ranch there for twenty six years with my wife, Yvonne, our son Zane, and our daughter Melodie.

In 2000, we sold off most of the ranch. Yvonne and I moved to Sundre, Alberta retiring.  It was then that I began writing poetry about our life on the ranch. As well spending times before and after retirement, going
riding in the mountains with friends of whom I have written about. We published a small book of my poetry, Old Boots and Memories, but it is already sold out, we are hoping in the near future to add new poems and
reprint.

 

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