Page Five



A Little Bit of Lickin'

This calvin' out of cows is gonna bet the best of me,
the things I know will happen, the things I know I'll see.

Like the other day I'as ridin', my Spook horse saw him first,
flat and black against the snow, it was plain he'd never nursed.
His mother licked and pushed him, tryin' to get him on his feet;
to her it was her baby, not a piece of born dead meat.

I tried to tell her how it was, why he wouldn't rise,
she just looked at me with unbelievin' eyes.
No, they said, I won't believe it so,
with a little bit of lickin' he might get up and go.

Next mornin' I rode by and saw her melted bed,
she'd spent the night in fretful sleep by her baby cold and dead.
I couldn't stand her grievin' so I took the calf away;
she moaned along behind me, beggin' him to stay.

For three days when she saw me, she'd come to make her claim,
her baby calf was missin' and I'as the one to blame.
She was never mean or mad, just overcome with grief, and always when I left her I was shakin' like a leaf.


Cows are dumb, unthinkin' brutes, they don't feel no pain,
they don't know 'bout lovin', so a lot of people claim.
I'd like to have them come with me when the evenin's nice and still,
and listen to that momma, there on yonder hill.
Tell her that cow's don't feel, that their hurtin' isn't so,
and that with a little bit of lickin' he won't get up and go.

2002, Earl Sampson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

We asked Earl how he came to write this poem and he told us: At the time  "A Little Bit of Lickin'" was written I was supposedly writing for an agriculture publication.  I say supposedly because I gathered material and photos by traveling with a horse and mule in western South Dakota and adjacent areas of North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska.  I did write for the publication but saw my first responsibility as being to the people I was staying and working with.  Such "work" ranged from calving cows to running wild horses.

One night, about midnight, while waiting to make another check of some first-calf heifers in the corral, I put pen to paper and the poems literally ran out of it and onto the paper.  All I had to was keep moving the pen.  I have a number of other poems which deal with the things I saw and experienced in my riding.  

The cow in the poem was a black momma whose calf had died.  I hauled the calf away to keep coyotes from seeing the calving ground as a buffet.

You can read more of Earl Sampson's poetry here at the BAR-D.


What My Mom's Made Of

Some of us are made of muscle and blood
Some of us are made of clay, sand and mud
My Mom is made of Grit and Glory
These next few lines will tell of her Story.

Born a cowboy rancher in twenty-two
She learned what this country gal was to do
She joined a brother, who four years older
Helped make this girl much sharper and bolder.

The family grew but tragedy came
Mom & baby lost, life's never the same
Dad's got to go on and raise his children
No easy task when your heart is sink'n.

In summers they ranched along side their Dad
Where they enjoyed life, the good and the bad
The house caught on fire, a horse in a bog
Drove a horse to school, cut couldn't take the dog.

Later they stayed with Gram to go to school
Always escorted . . . Victorian rule
You took life as it came, never forewarned
Vanity was a plague much to be scorned.

"Eastern" School, experience to be had
It molded this Lady, the good and the bad
Tough, modest, sweet, proud, polite & full of life
A hand, lady, teacher, mother & wife.

Trials she had many in life, death, & health
Examples she set were greater than wealth
Losing a son was probably the worst
Tho with arthritis she has been cursed.

Nothing stopped her from being a good hand
Doctors, family or bronc that won't stand
We rode inside, then in front till three
Three and Four were bad- behind you can't see.

She had class and style, a rodeo queen
A ropin' buckle entered on this scene
She enjoyed ropin' with all of her friends
Then fed em all, her spirit never ends.

Children she had us three, two boys and me
Raised to be hands but, with breeding you see
We gave her six grandkyds that she helped raise
She made them mind, mostly, then filled with praise.

Now with 10 great grandkyds she's still quite hip
With their lineage on her computer chip
She lifts me up when in frustration
She's my proof reader and inspiration.

2002, Jo Lee T Riley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

You can read more of Jo Lee T Riley's poetry here at the BAR-D.


Just Beyond the Clouds

Near 80 years a cowboy,
ranch and family were his pride,
And after 57 years of marriage,
the cowboy's lady now must say good-by.

He's been hers it seems forever,
even before grade school there's memories that bind.
In high school they were sweethearts,
it was after the war, she became his bride.

Her aged lips now tremble, as still he lies,
unconscious of those around him.
She holds her breath, as she holds his hand,
his chance of recovery is slim.

"The situation's dark" the doc admitted,
"he may not come around".
A horse had throw'd him upon the rim
that put the cowboy down.

A horseman from his youth,
though cattle paid the bills,
He'd rather work at wranglin'
then build fence or fix windmills.

The gelding Quarter had learned his lessons,
could work a calf to a stand.
The old man had said he's proud of the colt,
a bit clumsy but made an honest hand.

Moving the 'gather' down off the hill,
the hardest work was done.
When something happened on the eastern flank,
and the herd went on the run.

The young colt perked, stood tall,
enthusiastically he waited.
Excited, he wanted to play
but... no signal had yet been given.

Then, the neck rein moved, a squeeze of the leg,
the colt, in place, spun around.
He dug in deep and bolted,
leaving the old man on the ground.

A younger man may have weathered the fall
but the years had taken its toll.
This time, broken ribs, a punctured lung,
and a badly fractured skull.

Hope was fading, the family...
advised to stay close,
For those who may want to be with him
just before he goes.

On the evening of the forth day he awakened,
his devoted wife there by the bed.
It seemed t'a us, he gathered his thoughts before speaking,
and to his wife, with his family to hear, he said.

"Darlin', my time is short
and there's so much I'd like to say.
You've been my love, and my strength,
each step along life's way."

From building fences to working stock,
you were always my best hand.
Didn't even complain when money got short
and we hocked your wedding band.

Remember when we were pullin' wire
and stopped to rest a while.
Ol' Roany spooked, the roll caught my leg,
I thought I'd been drug a mile.

The summer fire that took most our herd,
starting over wasn't fun.
You hung in there, you kept us together,
a lesser women would have run.

When the recession hit, things were tough,
I lost that job in town.
It hurt you so, seeing the kids do without,
but still you stood your ground.

The drought in the 70's set us back,
the bank wanted to call our note.
Feed was scarce, water was worse,
not a drop on the southern slope.

Some of our misfortunes now cause us to laugh
though not funny at the time.
When the boy turned "Hippie" in '67...
we could only wondered "Why?"

There was the year spent on the road
chasing the rodeo circuit.
I had a plan to make it big, but all I did
was max out our limited credit.

Spent our last few dollars on entree fee
at the old Payson Rodeo.
I wouldn't of blamed you if you'd left me...
but it just wasn't in ya t'a go.

Got shot by rustlers in '56,
alone, up riding on the rim.
Three days it took to find me
but you nursed me back again.

That time the hay truck run me down,
I thought for sure I'd die.
You were there, can't remember the year,
it was back when Dad was still alive.

"Every time you've been right there,
t'a fix me up when I'm broken.
It won't happen this time, it's not your call,
my name in the Book s'been written."

"I've seen just beyond the clouds", he declared,
"this ain't the end, the trail it goes on through.
My time's now spent, but with family and friends,
Darlin', I'll be waiting for you."

"I'll stay close, hanging back,
I'll be taking it slow.
When you're called, I'll be here,
t'a get ya, when you're ready to go."

He knew it was his cowboy ways
that brought him to this end.
What he now wanted most was his sweetheart's smile,
as she held on to his hand.

"You know what dear?" he boyishly asked.
She softly replied, "No...., what....?"
He smiled and winked, like he so often did,
then said, "Darlin', I'm thinkin' maybe, you're bad luck."

The family's laughter was strong, then the room was hushed,
I LOVE YOUs were tenderly spoken,
His eye's then filled, as so did her's,
as the angels came and got him.

In great sorrow she smiled, just as he had wanted her to,
and she would not let him go.
She held him close, she was his alone,
she already missed him so.

Not two weeks later she passed on,
again... the family gathered around.
And thanks was given, for the heavenly reunion,
just beyond the clouds.

2002, Mike Dunn
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Mike Dunn told us this poem is "a tribute to the endurance of the ranch wife and it is one of my favorites to give" about "the best part of the ranch family and the heart of the home -- the Country Mom."  


Mom's Kitchen Table

I'd like to be at Mom's Kitchen Table again
in the surroundings as when I was a kid.
Life seemed easy, worries were few
and Mom found good in all we did.

We'd gather around the table each morning,
and again at the end of day.
Mom would make sure we's washed and clean
before bowing our heads to pray.

The table was long and a bit narrow
but it fit all us kids just fine,
Along with Dad, Mom and the hired hand,
and a border from time to time.

Made from planks of four-inch pine,
scrapes from when the barn was built.
A leg on each corner, another in the middle,
sturdier, strong, and stout.

Benches split from cottonwood,
running along each side.
Once rough, now worn smooth,
butt polished over time.

At the head of the table Dad's chair was sat,
Mom's at the other end.
But when Dad missed a meal, she'd fix him a plate
then take the bench seat next to him.

A center for family gatherings,
the Good Book might be read at night,
Where life's discussions were common place,
by the glow of a coal-oil light.

Figuring out which field to plant,
which calves to send to sale,
Horses to work, cows to cull,
which fields to cut and bail.

At the table's were quilts were sewn,
peas were peeled, peaches canned.
Where wild berries and cactus apples
were preserved, jellied, and jammed.

It's where Uncle Ben, in agony was laid,
when fighting rustlers he got shot.
Where the doctor labored into the night
to dig the bullet out.

A workbench for minding saddles,
or studies when the day was done.
There's a hole where Dad shot it,
he clamed while loading his gun.

It's where the preacher sat to visit,
when Sister was to be wed
And where the family was called to gather
t'a get the news... Grandpa was dead.

Family decisions, plans laid out,
where meat was prepared for the smoker.
Laundry was folded, gifts were wrapped,
an occasional a game of match-stick poker.

It supported Dad's arms, holding his head,
when the spring crop didn't come through.
Late frost, hot winds, or a blight of bugs,
there was little any one could do.

Where a proud man confessed
the shortcomings of his life,
To the one woman with the willing ear,
his darling, my mother, his wife.

Where Sunday meals of wild turkey or beef,
were served as a festive feast.
And music, around that table was made,
to the tapping of tired feet.

Now there's quite remembrances
and stories told with laughter and tears.
That old table's been part of it all,
spanning those decades of years.

At Mom's table, great lessons were learned
more then at school, work, or church,
Lessons of life, respect, and caring,
the lessons of a family's worth.

2002, Mike Dunn
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

You can read more of Mike Dunn's poetry here at the BAR-D.


The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

Often when I talk to the competitors on the rodeo circuit, I am amazed at
how little they boast about their own accomplishments. Instead, much of
their conversation pays tribute to the wives and mothers who are home
tending to their business and personal affairs. This next poem is dedicated to all ranch wives and mothers.

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

The hand that rocks the cradle is lacing up her chaps.
That old bronc he left is balking like a mule.
But she's got to push them cattle to fresh water and green grass.
Race back and buck three kiddies up for school.

The hand that rocks the cradle didn't sleep that well last night.
To bed at one, then her coffee down by five.
But the mare she's looking stronger and that black colts a little prince.
Took all her skills to keep them both alive.

The old Brahma bull broke out again; she'd love to shoot that fool.
Now there's another fence she'll have to tend
And all that fudge and cookies that she promised for the school.
Sometimes it seems her day won't ever end.

How she'd love some time just for herself
A soak, a book, or most of all a nap.
But the phone keeps on ringing when she comes into the house
Now there's six loads of bails she's got to cap.

He called late last night from Reno said he stuck the first go round.
One more good ride and he'll replace their truck.
And he asked how she was coping, for he was thinking 'bout Cheyenne.
She choked back her tears and then, she wished him "luck."

For she knows he loves the rodeo near as much as he loves her.
And without those funds, there'd be that banker on their lawn.
But some nights she wakes up shaking from the wreck he had last year.
Hugs his lonely pillow, then she lays awake till dawn.

She remembers when she met him; he was limping, caked with dust
But she melted when he smiled into her eyes.
He listened to her dreams and soon he gained her trust.
She loves living on those memories more than she hates his good-bys.

He never took her dancing to the movies or a show.
There were times she thought he'd plumb forgotten how to speak.
For his thoughts seemed on tomorrows ride or yesterday's poor-go
But those hands as hard as iron, just one touch could leave her weak.

Then one night he took riding while the moon was shining high.
He was talking bout how much he loved this land.
She was giddy from the moonlight and all those stars up in the sky
Then he kissed her quick and asked her for her hand.

She could of married money, both the doc and lawyer tried.
She knows she could have lived a life of ease.
But she chose the barns and pastures so her babes would grow up free.
Gave up all thoughts of fashion, Cadillacs and social teas.

She may not make it through the day without a little cry.
But both dogs are there to kiss her when she's blue.
And they help to make her stronger for she jumps back to her feet.
"He'll be home soon boys, 'sides we've got lots of work to do."

The hand that rocks the cradle will be mucking out the stalls.
She'll be dreaming bout her Cowboy on the road.
But she knows that he loves her and she knows that he knows
That the hand that rocks the cradle, is packing her share of the load.

2003, Jesse Colt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

We asked Jesse how he came to write this poem and he said: I work with Christine Dix, a Western Artist. Most of the rodeo guys know her and we are welcome in the infield, their campers or when they are having a quiet beverage after the rodeo. I had expected to hear a lot boasting and bravado from these rough tough rodeo pros. I was surprised to hear most of their conversation with Christine centre on their families. They were much more interested in showing her a picture of their kids than the last buckle they had won. There was a real appreciation for the wives, girlfriends and mothers who were home managing their homes, ranches and finances.



Granny's Crochet Hook

        I wasn't there when Grandma died, but I visited her that day
        I knew that after we'd talked awhile, she'd soon be going away
        But still it came as quite a shock, when I answered the telephone
        At three a.m., in a sleepy haze, and heard that she'd gone home.

        I listened to the preacher man, before they lowered her down
        How she had gone to a better life, and soon would wear a crown
        But in my heart I already knew, that through her personal strife
        She had worn a crown for years, for helping others in life.

        We looked around her little place, as we broke it down
        Mementos of another life, and things she had around
        A table cloth I'd sent to her, from far across the sea
        She'd never used, packed away, a note to give it to me.

        And many things from family, she'd placed about with pride
        Or packed in drawers most carefully, with little notes inside
        I never knew how deep she thought, until I went that day
        To help my Aunt and Uncle, put her place away.

        We tried to give her modest wealth, to those we thought would care
        To friends and neighbors, and family, alike, her worldly things to share
        An item here, an item there, that brought memories to mind
        Of this smiling, whitehaired lady,  - of the dearest Grandma kind.

        But it was in her kitchen drawer, in a small compartment nook
        I found the item I love most -  Granny's crochet hook
        Made out of metal, or stainless steel, it seemed to call from there
        And so I took it home with me, to live with my silverware.

        She must have used it all around, for this and that, you see
        A tool so versatile and plain, a real surprise to me
        For with its little end so hooked, it can reach in anywhere
        And grab whatever it is that's needed, to be moved from there.

        But what I really love the most, each time I use this thing
        Is when I hold it in my hand, it always seems to sing
        And I can hear her laughing voice, and I'm so glad I took
        This little metal thing-a-ma-bob, Granny's crochet hook.

1998 Howard D. Mallison
          This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

You can read more of Howard D. Mallison's poetry here at the BAR-D.




Page Five



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