About Jan Erickson
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The Tail Of Ol' Bud
One sunny summer day me and ol' Bud
Were travelin' out on the trail
I was whistlin' n' singin' a song that I knew
And ol' Bud he was swishin' his tail
The weather was warm not a cloud in the sky
We were movin' along through some trees
When a swish of Bud's tail made a nightmare appear
He knocked down a hive full of bees
I reckon I didn't think all that much of it
Until ol' Bud started to kick
He was swishin' his tail, n' jumpin' around
I had to get thinkin' real quick
So I clinched my knees into his side good n' hard
Grabbin' onto the saddle horn tight
Then Ol' Bud reared up and he danced back and forth
Like some cowboy on Saturday night
I could see all those bees were swarmin' n' mad
They were flyin' around everywhere
A buzzin' n' hittin' n' divin' n' stingin'
n' stickin' in poor ol' Bud's hair
I was feelin' real bad for the pain he was in
Hangin' on for a terrible wreck
Then one of those critters buzzed down there and stung me
Right hard on the side of my neck (Sweet Martha it hurt)
I've felt some bad pain in my life once or twice
When I've taken a fall off a horse
Or grippin' the arms of an ol' barbers chair
While gettin' teeth yanked out with force
I been stepped on n' kicked hard n' bitten real bad
My leg caught between Bud and a tree
I've never been shot but I'm sure that the pain
Is the same as the sting of a bee
In the buzzin' n' dust n' confusion
Ol' Bud n' me got turned around
And headed back there to that beehive
It was spread out all over the ground
That swarm of them angry bees hit us as if
It was buckshot that's fired at a barn
Was eternity showin' up next on the trail
Could this be how I buy the farm
Ol' Bud's always been, a nice gentle horse
I've loved him and treated him kind
But the mustang that's in 'im is comin' out now
I bet money he's losin' his mind
A spinnin' and screamin' like Satan himself
Then he bucked n' I started to fly
He threw me as high as a buzz bomb from China
That you'd see fired off in July
I hear tell when you get close to leavin' this world
That you see your whole life with your eyes
So I knew the Grim Reaper was not chasin' me
When all that I saw was the skies
But then as I tumbled up there through the air
I started to comin' back down
Religion came quick as I yelled out a prayer
Cause all I could see was the ground
I hit like an old burlap sack full 'a spuds
That's been tossed off the second floor
With the dust and the bees still flyin' 'round me
And gettin' stung many times more
Ol' Bud he ran off and I felt like a fool
For the way that I'd got myself thrown
I think I know now how that old cowboy felt
That stepped up on the Strawberry Roan
I soon found my feet and I ran down the trail
A whistlin' n' yellin' fer Bud
I spied him at last he was rollin' around
On a creek bank there in the cool mud
Still wearin' the saddle I bought just last week
With my favorite bridle and reins
Right now I don't care so just make some room where
I can jump in for some of the same
We finally got over that day with the bees
And the swelling went down in a week
But we won't forget how we got in that mess
And were saved by that small muddy creek
So now I'm keepin' my one good eye open
For trouble out there on the trail
And I've noticed a curious change in my horse
Ol' Bud has quit swishin' his tail
© 2001, Jan Erickson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
Jan told us: Before I was born, my granddad had a working team in Davis County, Utah. Their names were Bud and Tarzan. I write my poetry and songs as if I were a cowpuncher in the mid to late 19th century. Edgar Rice Burroughs didn't create Tarzan until the early 20th century, so I could only write about Bud.
That Little Utah Home
Jan told us: In the spring of 2003 I had the privilege of visiting with one of our most devoted fans and his wife here in Utah. Larry Sandberg had become homebound and was not able to attend our local WMA meetings, so a call went out for anyone that could, to go and pay them a visit. I called and set a time to sing some of my songs and do my best to raise Larry's spirits. It was a wonderful time, and a blessing that I was able to help out.
Two days later, I received a call saying that Larry had passed on. Being the last to perform for Larry in person, profoundly affected me to the point that I immediately took the time to write the following lyrics. I offer them as tribute to any good Cowpoke that we would all like to remember.
That Little Utah Home
The campfire burns a bit less bright, his pony waits there close
A lazy trail of smoke heads for the sky
He's riding home to meet old friends on a saddle trimmed with gold
He turns to grin, then tips his hat and bids us all goodbye
While the rest of us tend to the herd, we'll think of him and smile
Remembering how he brightened up our day
The trail boss shook his hand and said, "Good job there buckaroo.
You've done your best, now ride for home, go draw your final pay".
He's headed for the glowing sun, that's setting in the west
Singing of that last long dusty ride
There will be no more of punchin' cows, or nights spent in the rain
His pony knows the way now with a sure and steady stride
A cool breeze gently blows, the trail is smooth and low
A perfume fills the air from bright spring flowers
Days of wearin' spurs are done, there's no more need to roam
As the sun sets on that little Utah home
© 2003, Jan Erickson
These lyrics may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
[At the 2004 Kanab Cowboy Poetry Rodeo and Western Legends Roundup open-mike session, Larry Sandberg's wife Sarah read a poem that her son Lonnie had written. We wrote a bit about it in a report.]
Read Jan Erickson's
St. Nic's Beginnings, Part 1 posted with other 2008 Christmas poems
Christmas in Logan 1952 in our 2008 Christmas Art Spur
Uncle Charlie's Christmas Eve in our Art Spur feature
A Day in December, posted with other Christmas 2004 poems
About Jan Erickson:
Born in Logan, Utah, a short time after World War II, Jan is one of the early boomers of that era. His childhood was spent in rural north Davis and Weber counties in Northern Utah. Working the farms and ranches of that area, Jan was able to keep out of serious mischief and learn the values and common sense of hard working, honest folks.
The influences that directed Jan to the cowboy side of life are first, his Uncle Melvin Erickson. Melvin was a horse lover and had experience in the Rodeo during the 1920's. At a Wyoming Rodeo during one of his rides, a bad fall against a fence disabled Melvin for his remaining sixty years. He encouraged Jan as a young boy, to start singing cowboy songs, which included: "Little Brown Jug," "Ol' Paint," "The Strawberry Roan," and "Clementine." Uncle Melvin still kept a horse and taught Jan some of his first lessons about equine care and behavior.
The other person to encourage a cowboy life was Jan's Granddad, Willie Frogget. Willie tended flocks of sheep on the summer mountain ranges of Northern Utah and Southern Idaho. Jan and his family would go visit at the sheep camp, and every so often, Jan would stay for a week or more. The green, wooden framed camp trailer with the rounded silver metal roof was basic shelter, and that's about it. All it was good for was storage of provisions, cooking on the wood stove and sleeping up off the ground on the double bed. All other facilities were out of doors, somewhere away from the sheep camp, if you get the drift. Willie always had a horse and three or four Australian Shepherds for help with the flock. When Jan would visit, Willie would work the dogs and let Jan take the horse to move the sheep around. Willie was also a fiddler from Kentucky and could saw out some great music. The only contact with the civilized world was once a month for supplies brought! in by the owner of the sheep. Those periods of isolation was the real life equivalent of those stereotypical stories told about the old west. For all practical purposes, it could have been 1870.
Jan's family lived in Clinton, Utah before it became urbanized. Across the road was the A.J. Niederhauser Shetland Pony Farm. Jan was friends with the two youngest sons of that family, and became familiar with the chores of that business. Hay season was always the primary summer activity in the area. It was learned that even though Shetlands appear to be horses, they are not quite the same as the full size version. They ride like a springless buckboard, and some of them have a mean streak that could be fatal. Personal experience proves, Shetlands can do as much damage as a full size horse when they step on your foot.
At age nineteen, Jan left home like a lot of young Utah men do. He spent two years in Texas. It don't get any better than that for a guy with Jan's background. The people of Texas are proud of their cowboy heritage and are eager to share it with anyone who will listen. Returning to Utah, the next few years were spent getting a university education. One of those years, living on the Hamilton Teichert Hereford Ranch in Benjamin, Utah, rent was paid the cowboy way. Rent included daily chores and tending to the herd at all hours. Jan had access to some fine horses during that period. From that, jobs were offered in the Bear River area of Wyoming, around Cokeville as a ranch hand. This was about the time that Jan discovered his life long allergies included horses, and had to say farewell to the cowboy life. He didn't really lose contact though. He married the daughter of a dairy farmer from Star Valley, Wyoming, and kept in touch with the rural country side of life.
Over the years, music has been a big part of Jan's life. He was bass player in several different bands and privately played guitar and sang his cowboy songs. Late in 1998, he auditioned as a bassist/vocalist for the Brenn Hill Band. Jan joined Brenn's band and had the opportunity to be on stage at some of the biggest and best known Cowboy Gatherings around. He also got to meet the heavyweights of Cowboy Music and Poetry, which include great poets from Utah. Realizing the strength of the modern cowboy movement, it was the kick needed to start writing about his own experiences and putting those writings to music. Jan is now booking himself as a solo artist at gatherings and festivals.
Jan and his wife Judy now live in suburbia, in Kaysville, Utah. Their quarter acre "Double J Ranch" produces: tomatoes, squash, peas and grass clippings. If you run into them at one of the Cowboy Gatherings or Festivals, please say hello.
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