photo by Anita "Neets" Crane, www.photographybyneets.com
About Kent Reeves
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You all know what gates are?
They’re contraptions made of wood, iron, and wire,
Especially designed to raise a puncher’s ire.
They fall, they rust and then they break,
Besides your shoulder they make other parts ache.
There are some so tight that with ‘em you won’t toy,
For to open them up requires three men and a boy.
Then there’s the ones that are decrepit and loose,
Why, they couldn’t even hold a stampeding goose.
You curse and you swear, ‘cause your colt won’t get near ‘em,
And then there’s that steer that will easily clear ‘em.
And the ones you want closed, are opened up wide…
…Those cattle that were in, are now outside.
Well, there isn’t a single one that’s easily designed,
But as a cowpuncher I must be resigned,
To open and shut them, but I’ll cuss ‘em as well.
So on their cursedness I will no longer dwell.
But when it’s time to leave this Earth,
One thing will add to the Devil’s mirth.
For it’s off to Hell, I won’t be late!
If I have to get off my horse to open that Pearly Gate!
© 1986, Kent Reeves
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
Kent comments: The poem was written while working on the UU Bar Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico in 1986. The ranch was one of the first ranches to implement holistic management, but what was called the "Savory Grazing Method" in the late 1970s when introduced to the ranch. There was a belief that in order to do this you had to have grazing cells shaped like wagon wheels. The ranch had seven cells that encompassed 27,000 acres of a 138,000 acre ranch. Well, a ranch road cut across the grazing cells and each fence line had a gate on it! I had a young partner and I drove a lot more, but still had to get out and deal with all the gates on that ranch road at times. The young hand I was working with got to about the fourth gate when he stomped back to the truck said, "My gawd, haven’t these people ever heard of cattle guards??!!"
That was my inspiration.
photo by Kevin Martini-Fuller, kevinmartinifuller.com
About Kent Reeves
Kent Reeves has been invited and performed at various Cowboy Poetry gatherings and events in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, and New Mexico. He was the first person to recite American cowboy poetry in Kenya and South Africa. He began writing cowboy poetry in 1982 and since 1987 has been invited to perform several times at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. This includes the recent 25th and 30th Anniversary Gatherings. He developed, planned and moderated NCPG Conservation Sessions in 2010 - Ranch and Rangeland Conservation from Florida to California: Partnerships that Protect Our Culture; and in 2014 - Sustaining the Rural Ranching West: Balancing Ranching & Natural Resources.
Kent works as a wildlife-range ecologist, packer, and cowboy in California. He rode bareback broncs in college, plus 'cowboyed' and started colts in New Mexico. Kent started as a mule and horse packer guiding people in the Sierra Nevada in 1983. Besides his education from the backside of a horse Kent has a graduate degree in Natural Resources, and what some people think is a real job managing his own business, The Whole Picture Consulting, LLC. Kent continues to pack mules and guide on both the east and west sides of the Sierra Nevada.
Kent is a photographer and began photographing cowboys in 1979. The Cowboy Hall of Fame 1995 Western Heritage Award-Winning book, Between Earth and Sky: Poets of the Cowboy West featured his photography. A special session of the same title highlighted the 11th NCPG and featured the poets from this book. He photographed ranchers and watershed stewardship groups for the California Cattlemen's Association publication Grazing for Change: Range and Watershed Management Success Stories in California. Kent's current project is Where Mules Wear Diamonds: Packers of the Sierra Nevada. His photography has been featured in juried art shows throughout the western United States including Trappings of the American West. His work has appeared in Vaquero Heritage Times, Western Horseman, Range, National Geographic WORLD, and The Economist magazines.
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