White Sulphur Springs, Montana
About Margaret Wilhelm
Some of the best cattle in the state
Are selling at auction today.
But the grass has dried up, and water is scarce,
And there's just no way they can stay.
For late May the auction's too busy
Not just culls and dry cows to be sold
For the third year in a row now there's been no rain
And no snow in winter, just cold.
One rancher unloaded his trailer
Prize cows with calves at their side
He couldn't stay to watch, just turned and drove home
As they sold his hard work and his pride.
For the brave in the stands, drought jokes are spread
In an attempt to lighten the mood
Who's sent their cows to a neighboring state?
There grass costs pure gold or red blood.
One young man who sat in the stands
Said his dad had built up these cows.
It took fifteen years to get to this point
But we can't let them starve anyhow.
Next to him sat his ten-year-old son,
Teary eyed, but trying to be tough.
He said, "We have to sell old 389,
I didn't think it'd be near this rough."
"You see, she's tame, she'll eat cake from my fingers
In the pasture, I'd scratch her back.
But Dad says she's old, and'll get hungry
It's feed and water we lack.
One old timer maintained we've been there before
Though decisions we make don't come easy.
Cowboy up and do what you have to
Now's no time to let down and get queasy.
'Course he's right and we all know it,
Another year will bring better days.
Pray for rain and look to the bright side,
Bumpy roads always mark cowboy ways.
© 2002, Margaret Wilhelm
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
About Margaret Wilhelm:
I live with my husband Gary on a small ranch near White Sulphur Springs, Montana. We have had a cycle of drought for four years now, and it looks like it may improve some this season, but still many springs are dried up and precipitation will need more than normal for a couple years to get back to where we were. The poem above was written as a result of these conditions. Last year more than half the cattle in our county were sold, including many of our own.
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