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


near Chester, California
About Julie Baccala Wiik 



Ghost Riders

It's taken several years and they almost lost their wits.
But I think they're glad it's over, the Ranch has made it's final split.
That's the one place in my life I've been that I will miss the most.
But lately I've had visits from the strangest cowboy ghosts.
Now, before you go a wonderin' about my mental health
Just hear me out, you may just want to try this for yourself.
The first time that it happened I shook my head to clear the fog.
Now I welcome every visit and the memories that they jog.
Drivin' up on 32 'round the bend at Soda Springs
To my surprise on up ahead I saw the strangest things.
The cows crossed right in front of me, linin' out on down the hill.
The Mamas bawlin' for their calves the way a Mama will.
They were pourin' off that hill runnin' Hell bent for the stream.
I could see and feel and smell the dust, much too real to be a dream.
I could see the misty sunshine as it filtered thru the trees
And it sparkled off the water. God, them cowboys sure looked pleased.
I never know when they'll be comin', all the sudden they appear.
I can see 'em thru my windshield and even in my rear-view mirror.
If you see 'em you might ask if there's a horse for you, by chance.
You could help 'em push their cattle to their Soldier Meadows Ranch.
So even though I'm gonna' miss it, I'll be back from time to time.
When those ghost riders saddle up and go ridin' thru my mind.

2002, Julie Baccala Wiik
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.



What Would He Think Of That?

The Ranch was held together by sheer determination.
It made it clear through to the third generation.
Not long after the death of my Dad's brother, Pat-
The bottom fell out...
What would he think of that?

Through the years, when each aunt and each uncle would die,
Their survivors came 'round for their piece of the pie.
It's not that we blame them for wantin' their share,
We're just strugglin' to keep the legacy alive. Don't they care?
It's always the same, "I want this, you take that!"
Now there's not too much left...
What would he think of that?

Pat died just two weeks before Pete and I wed.
I just knew he would be there in my heart and my head.
He never lived long enough to meet Sam and Matt.
Oh Lord, Sam is just like him...
What would he think of that?

Dad and Pat shared thoughts without sayin' a word.
We were waitin' for orders while they were workin' the herd.
They made it look easy, both my Dad and Pat.
It ain't easy no more...
What would he think of that?

Dad and Pat were real close, more than most brothers are.
It's been seven years, still his spirit's not far.
He asked when his life here on Earth was all done,
That they scatter his ashes from atop Bloody Run.
We visit there often 'cause they did what he asked.
None of us can go up there and just drive right on passed.
We stop and talk to Pat...
What would he think of that?

There's always been rifts, we didn't always get along.
But to split up the Ranch 'cause of that, man that's wrong!
Pat was there when the cows were all healthy and fat.
But the cows are all gone now...
What would he think of that?

2002, Julie Baccala Wiik
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.



About Julie Baccala Wiik:

I was born and raised on a ranch in Chico in Northern California. Due to the hot, dry summers here we also had a mountain ranch in Chester, California. This ranch had been in the family for about 150 years. It was a great source of pride and later on a great source of pain. We were one of the last families to still drive our cattle back and forth to the different ranches. It was a 4-5 day cattle drive depending on the weather. When my great uncles passed away they turned the ranch over to my Dad and his brother. His brother passed away in '94 at the age of 54 from cancer. As if that wasn't devastating enough, his wife decided to split the ranch up. One would take the mountain property and one would take the valley property. It's been 8 years of living Hell, but it's a done deal now. My folks now have the valley property. Both ranches are absolutely beautiful but you can't run cattle on valley property only. My Dad was forced to sell his cows and give up the only way of life he's ever known. I get choked up just writing about it. My husband and I bought a cabin last year about 15-20 miles (as the crow flies) from our old mountain ranch. I drive past a section of Hwy 32 where we would cross with the cows on our cattle drive every time I head to the cabin. 

My poem "Ghost Riders" was inspired by a day dream, I guess. It couldn't have been real, could it?



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