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Independence, Missouri
About Rich Templeton





Crossing the Canadian

Up out of Texas, in the spring 84
We'd crossed the Brazos, the Red, and quite a few more.
There weren't any bridges, lest you built 'm by hand
The bottoms were mud or quick sucking sand

We had three thousand steers and 200 cow
And not a few strays that joined then and now,
Southern bred longhorns, long legged and fast
Could live off of cactus and half burnt up grass

Mother nature had shown us her grace and wrath
And now the Canadian lay in our path
A hundred yards wide and not belly deep
We'll just lead 'm across, and then get some sleep

A freshet had recently caused her to flood
The watermark showed on the banks in the mud
How little we knew of the upcoming fight
That would keep us all up well into the night

In the chuck wagon all our dry clothes were stored
Cookie drove it down-stream to a suitable ford
We gathered them beeves into workable groups
Took off our boots and straitened our loops

We cut out the leaders and started across
We'd gotten this far with nary a loss
They lowed and they bawled but got to the bank
Twenty foot short, then they stopped. and they sank

The rest spun around and we let 'm turn tail
Then we herded them up and well off of the trail
We damned and we cursed, the change in our luck
Cause twenty-eight beeves were still bogged in the muck

We'd had this happen a few times before
But not nearly this many, just three or four
With ropes and mules, we got to the chore
Tied their legs and tails and drug 'm ashore

It was three in the morning when we saved the last one
And we all knew too soon, we'd be up with the sun
We found a good crossing well down the way
And had the drive back together later that day

We made the Crow Agency, September 5
With all but a couple of doggies alive
There'd be more drives, mistakes and neglect
But for rivers, the Canadian had won our respect.

2004, Rich Templeton

Rich says, "I had recently read a first hand account of a trail drive written in 1890 by one of the hands and realized how grueling and un-glamorous that job was.  This poem was loosely based on parts of that account."

About Rich Templeton:

We live in Independence, Missouri, raise horses and ride quite a bit.  Our son is a trick rider--on the other hand, we try to stay on the horse.



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