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Bar LC Ranch, Bingham, Nebraska
About Mickee Cheek

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of


Sandhills Seasons

I don't have to wear a watch
To know the time of day
Or have a calendar at hand
To guide me on my way.

Here in cattle country
If you learn to read the signs
Everything has its own way
And gets done in its own time.

Early in the year
Before the grass is green
The cows know when it's time for them
And the calves show you it's Spring.

About the time things settle down
Branding rolls around
Get the irons heated up
The last pair has been found.

Then it's practice, practice, practice
For the rodeo's in town
And don't forget the hay crews
Working sunup to sundown.

Weaning time comes after that
Just hear those cattle bawl
It's payday for the ranchers
And that's how you know it's Fall.

The pace slows down, the bills get paid
The ranchers check their debt
Another year is winding down
Winter's nearly here and yet

Here in the sandhills of Nebraska
We have learned to know the reasons
That work gets done when it gets done
With the changing of the seasons.

Mickee Cheek
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Except That

It was just a tiny branding, and by tiny I mean four
Hardly worth the trouble, to step out of the door.

but the calves were kind of biggish, and the work sure needed done
We'd finish quick and turn 'em out, and maybe have some fun.

Except that - the corrals were deep in mud, and I'm not very tall
They had a slope down to the south, and it had been a rainy Fall.

'Shouldn't be a problem.'  Was what Luke had to say
he set the stove up to the north, and that's where I was to stay.

Except that - Colleen had a new horse, who was just a three-year-old
She had never been roped off of, and was kind of hard to hold.

She made a couple passes, and things were going well
I think she may have snagged a calf, in the mud it was hard to tell.

'Dally 'round the horn!' we cried; her mare was backing up
You could see their concentration, as they stepped back though the muck.

That's when things got a little western, because the calf got to his feet.
And plowing mud, he headed north, toward the horse and Luke and me.

When I turned to look behind me, all that I could see
Were bodies flying, horses rearing, and the calf was running free.

That's when Jack had had enough, he was ready to call it a day
But Luke was mad, he wouldn't be stopped, that calf was gonna pay.

He disentangled from the gate, where he was hanging upside down
Scooped the mud out of his hat, picked Colleen up off the ground.

Then he wrestled the calf, Jack grabbed its head, and then they turned to Clint
'Grab his legs and hold on tight, and we'll be in like flint.'

Except that - did I mention?  Clint was from the city
He just happened to be there that day, didn't figure to get dirty.

And he was doing pretty well, 'til Luke pulled out his knife
But Clint was sitting in the mud, and not in a position to fight.

He eyed the knife and glanced at the calf, and started to turn pale
Then I showed up with the branding iron, and the calf began to flail.

About that time, Clint realized, yeah, things came crystal clear
For just a tiny branding, there shouldn't be this fear.

Except that - here's a knife and there's an iron, and the smell of burning hair
He desperately wanted to get up and run, but the mud was holding him there.

Well, after that things settled down; we finished pretty fast
Clint got good at wrestling calves, but he never has been back.

Jack and Luke and Colleen, were glad to be done with this thing
And they decided they'd much rather, stick to big brandings in the spring.

And me?  Well, I'm still standing, in the corner by the chutes
I'd really much rather be up at the house, but I just can't find my boots!

Mickee Cheek
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Mickee tells us that all that really happened.


About Mickee Cheek

Mickee Cheek tells us:  I operate a small ranch in the Nebraska sandhills.  When I write poetry, I base it on events as they occur around this area.



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