Cowboy Poetry and Music and More at the BAR-D Ranch

Ron Gale's web site




The Cowhand

Ya! I saw the cowhand smack the riggin’ onto that old bronco’s back.
I had a strong and hunchy feeling, that, right there I’d seen the knack.

The cowhand set and checked the buckshank, wasn’t looking for no wreck.
Then stepped aboard the bronco, settling in that whirly deck.

Nodded to the gateman, and those toes were pointed wide.
Settled deep and easy and raked that bronco’s hide.

Ah! That show they gave was pretty as the seconds ticked on by.
The bronco did his darndest, there’s no tricks he didn’t try.

Ya! That bronco was a good’un, but that rider was the best.
That cowhand sat aboard him knowing that it was a test.

That bronco gave a demonstration of pure buck, and jump, and twirl.
Kicking high in desperation, he was ridden by a girl.

© 2009, Ron Gale 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Ron told us:  I wrote this while hitch hiking across the States from Ontario to Calgary while I was on a 30 day furlough from the Army in 1951. I got picked up by a couple of kids going to a "Punkin' Roller" rodeo in Wyoming and while helping behind the chutes this actual happening sparked the making of this poem.



Ropin' a Moose

At a loggin’ camp in the Highwood Range,
where I worked as a kid; there I tried to arrange.
My thoughts on loggin’ and cowboyin’ and such,
I worked at loggin’, while keepin’ in touch.

With the cowboyin’ aspects; as usin’ my rope,
on anythin’ movin’ with ever a hope.
Of catchin’ a critter, a dog, or a cat,
a chicken, a mouse, or even a bat.

One mornin’ while ridin’ along on my horse,
I heard a slight noise, and I spotted the source.
A big cow moose came close into view,
and I flipped out my rope, and caught her too.

Now! If ever there happened a time in my past,
to ponder the wisdom of “tied hard and fast.”
I think of this time I took the lesson to heart,
of the quickness of hand while the lack of the smart.

The hand was ready, but the brain was relaxed,
and when the moose hit the end it was like gettin’ “poll axed.”
My horse was jerked ‘round like a cork on a string,
while my lariat stretched and started to sing.

Then off through the brush with a lumberin’ gait,
went that moose haulin’ me at a fast movin’ pace.
We were crashing through trees with my saddle intact,
‘till we hit a l tree and I heard a loud “crack."

The horn popped off my saddle, of course,
while the saddle was still attached to my horse.
I, saddle and horse were much worse for wear,
next time I go ropin’; I just won’t go there.

I’ll stick to the critters I can jerk around,
like anythin’ movin’, but close to the ground.
While I’ve started to dally my rope on the horn,
‘case I rope somethin’ too big to handle some early morn’

© 1946, Ron Gale 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Illustration by Ron Gale

Ron comments
: This really happened... I wrote it in '46 or '47 at 13 or 14 years of age. I was working at a logging camp skidding logs at ten cents a log with five horses and making more money than the sawyer. When the camp shut down, due to lack of timber, everyone went in to Calgary and applied for unemployment insurance but I was rejected because I was too young (under fifteen).


The Coyotey Den

It was July, hot and sultry, and the year was forty eight
Ridin’ a piebald geldin’, coverin’ ground at a fair rate.
I wus ridin’ the fences and checkin’ water an cattle.
Ten miles from the home ranch when the thunder started ta rattle.

The clouds were really boilin’ up from the North; morbid an black,
It jus’ started ta rain when I heard the first rumblin’ crack.
I wus sure gettin’ mighty darned wet an with no place ta hide
An’ that bald headed prairie could sure badger up a wet ride.

I looked ta the north an I see’d an enormous bank of white;
Which meant there wus some mighty rough hail just a comin’ in sight.
It wus turnin’ so cold that all of my bones were a shakin’,
An’ just moments ago I sat in the sun just a bakin’.

I moved that ‘ol piebald an really put him inta high gear
I couldn’t see any protection at all any wheres near.
Just then I see’d a slight bush outa’ the corner a my eye,
An’ I started makin’ straight fer it an’ we went on the fly.

I came along side that little bush as it started ta hail;
An insignificant bush ‘bout as tall as a short dog’s tail,
It sure wern’t of much use with that hail just a peltin’ down hard
‘til; just then I sees a round hole an’ an ‘ol coyotey’s yard.

It looked dry but it weren’t very big that ‘ol coyotey den;
If it were measured in inches it wood be ‘bout eight plus ten.
It was deep, but not very big ‘round, but I’d give it a try.
My pony was mighty jumpy and really started to shy.

With my coat on his head and my slicker draped over his rump.
There wus absolutely nowhere to tie, not even a stump.
I wiggled back inta that dry hole ‘til my head was inside.
While I wus aholdin’ the reins of my piebald just outside.

I just lay there relaxed in that hole that was warm and so dry
And that storm was ‘bout petered out as it’s cascadin’ on by
Then suddenly somethin’ started jerkin’ my leg a great deal
As some strange kinda critter caught hold of my ridin’ boot heel.

He wus a jerkin’ an’ a chompin’ an’ a carryin’ on
‘til I thaught that in moments my boot, an’ my leg would be gone.
I wiggled out of that hole with some kind of terrible dread
I wus thinkin’ in a few moments that, I mite just be dead.

With the storm about past I wus a ridin’ back ta the shack.
I wus now no longer scared and I wus just thinkin’ on back.
I started ta laugh just a thinkin’ ‘bout that scary ordeal
Of that darned coyotey a chewin’ on that hard ‘ol boot heel.

© Ron Gale 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Illustration by Ron Gale

Ron comments, "Back in the forties I worked for the V-bar-V ranch in southern Alberta and also for Bill Hunt, whose ranch adjoined the V-V. This little episode happened when I was caught out in the open miles from any protection."



Christmas at a Snowed-in Cow Camp

In an old line shack, in the trees out back,
I'm dreamin’ of Christmas chuck,
out where there is gals and the Christmas bells,
but snowbound right here I’m stuck.

The cold north winds cry, while the drifts grow high
the flame is blazing higher.
I do realize that there's no supplies,
while stokin' the blazin' fire.

The cattle all bawl, as the cold winds crawl
and the snow keeps fallin’ down.
When the cows are fed I'll make my own bed,
no way I’ll get into town.

With the snow as high as a horses eye
and the drifts top twenty feet.
The guy that could tramp from here to the camp
is one that I’d like to meet.

Of sweet apple pie I’ll dream and I’ll cry,
Of grits, and hot roast turkey.
But the cows I’ll feed and I’ll tend their need;
eatin’ beans and cold jerky.

© Ron Gale 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Ron comments about this poem, "... consider it was written in the mid forties when I was a young kid working for a South Eastern Alberta rancher feeding his cattle at a cow camp and a snow storm suddenly came up on a Christmas Eve. This poem was written in the present tense on that same Christmas Eve.


A Griz on the Trail

I’m ridin’ alone on a narrow goat trail,
On the side of a mountain where rocks prevail.
The trail was narrow, with a hundred foot drop
On the near horse side as we’re nearin’ the top.

Just around a sharp bend I came right face to face
With a big grizzly bear who halted my pace.
My hoss was shakin’, not the only one scared.
I had no rifle and I wasn’t prepared.

That griz was just standin’ so dangerously near,
No room to turn ‘round as the cold sweat of fear
Ran right down my back and gave me quite a chill,
While my hoss was sayin’ “Get off’n this hill.”

He was dancin’ and shakin’, showin’ his fear,
While both of us thought that the end was so near.
That griz’ was just standin’ as cool as could be,
Like a statue just left there carved from a tree.

Then takin’ his time he dropped down to all fours
And turned ‘round, as the sweat eased out of my pores.
He ambled on up and went out’a my sight
While I sat there in shock; I’d had a great fright.

My hoss settled down with that instinctive ease
While, I shook like an aspen leaf in the breeze.
Since then I’ve had scares in some sixty odd years.
But nuthin’ to match this in simple cold fears.

© 2010, Ron Gale 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Illustration by Ron Gale

Ron told us, "This poem was written back in the forties when I worked at a logging camp in the mountains of the Highwood range of Alberta."


Ol' Curly

Ol’ Curly was just a usin’ hoss, he had no pedigree.
But he could surely do some things you would really have to see.
Like lookin’ after small children when their folks ain’t got the time,
Or takin’ Maryann to the store to let her spend her dime.
When the cattle broke the fence down an were headin’ fer the road.
It was Curly true and proper now, that taught to them the code.
Young Jim was there in the saddle with ol’ Curly runnin’ fast.
He headed all those cattle and it really was quite a blast.
To see him dart and spin about, he sure turned those cattle back.
He was leapin’ and divin’, never givein’ any slack.
Until all were back where they belonged and nary missed a one.
But he gathered them into a bunch and really thought it fun.
If Curly were alive today I’m sure you’d find him right here.
He’d be givin’ all the kids a ride and always being near.

© 2011, Ron Gale 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Ron told us,  "I wrote this in the late sixties about a neighbor’s North American Curly horse" and included an illustration:



A Dog Named Cat

On a ranch at Wildwood on a reclaimed bog,
with an Appaloosa horse and a Catahoula dog.
I raised cattle on that wild and swampy ground,
where the Lobstick river meanders around

One bright sunny day; ‘twas late in the fall,
I rounded’ them critters and counted them all.
I was short in the end by fourteen head,
with all of them calves, was the way that it read.

Well I scratched my head and I furrowed my brow.
Them calves wouldn’t stay with out at least one cow?
So figurin’ that way, with the sun sinkin’ low,
I headed upstream and the goin’ was slow.

Six miles up stream through bush, swamp and bog,
I arrived at those calves with my horse and my dog.
Fourteen calves stood bug eyed and keen,
but nowhere on earth was a cow to be seen.

I looked at the sun, ‘twas a terrible state,
I couldn’t go for some cows it was gettin’ too late.
Now to move those calves out would be quite a feat,
but to scatter or leave ‘em they’d all be wolf meat.

I looked at my dog, an’ she looked back at me,
a big yellar hound that was true to the breed.
I am sure that she said “I can handle the task,
I’ll move them on down, now what more can you ask.”.

She kept ‘em bunched and movin’ with ease,
through the muskeg, the swamp and the cottonwood trees.

The toughest spot to the journey’s end,
was just before the very last bend.
Where a bog seeps out across the corridor,
and those calves hadn’t crossed that bog before.

But Cat was fast a flyin’, barkin’ dog,
and she literally shoved those calves through the bog.
Then on to the corral to their mothers at last,
where a neighbor of mine stood wide eyed and aghast.

My neighbor then said “That was quite a deed.
Put a price on that bitch and I’ll pay what you need.”
Now my neighbor was really a well moneyed man;
me! Ha, I was broke flat as an old frying pan.

He flipped out an offer; a four figured price,
man the things I could do with that money’d be nice.
But I knew if she left me I’d feel like a rat,
and I never did part with my dog named Cat.

© 2011, Ron Gale 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Ron told us, "This was written between 1975 and 1983 while I was ranching at Wildwood, Alberta. It is about a female Catahoula dog my youngest son Shane named 'Cat' when they were both pretty young and the two of them used to lay on the floor and eat ice cream out of the same dish" and he included this illustration:


Calf Ropin' at Barhead in the Rain

At a rodeo at Barhead, when I was livin’ the life
On a little white mare that belonged to my wife
On a day that the weather could change at the drop of a hat:
The Alberta weather can sure get like that.

I entered the box on that memorable day
In an arena with footing of dirt, sand and clay.
The weather was ominous with the lightnin’ and all
As I backed in the box and made it my call.

I settled my horse as the lightnin’ flashed.
It started to rain and the thunder crashed.
With a might crack as I signalled my bout.
My mare leaped the barrier as the calf broke out.

The calf and my mare were side by side.
As I tossed my loop my mare did a slide.
Stopping that calf and held it there sound.
As buckets of rain came down to the ground.

I slipped and I slithered out there in the mud.
With a calf too big, I sure felt like a dud.
A real fast catch and a mighty slow tie.
Fifty four seconds, I could wave that money "good bye."

I left Barhead in the mud and the rain.
With my ego so lousy and feelin’ the pain.
The radio was blaring, an’ I mumbled along.
It was Wilf Carter singing some lonely ol’ song.

The DJ cut in announcin’ the rodeo with ease.
A tellin’ the scores just as sweet as you please:
“The calf roping scores in the rain at Barhead;
Were disastrously slow with mostly DQs instead.”

“Most cowboys lucked out in the muck and the slime.
But Ron Gale won with fifty four second time.”

© 2011, Ron Gale
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Ron comments: This happened at a little rodeo where I was picking up and entered in a calf roping contest (now called "Tie Down Roping").



The Greatest Scout

Canadian North West Mounted, in their early start and time.
They were in the Territories to stamp out and stop all crime.
But they never would have made it. They’d have never found their way.
Except for Indians and Métis, who’d guide them every day.

Across a never ending ocean, of grass, expanse and sky.
The greatest guide of all them was Jerry Potts; to name the guy.
Of Blood and Scottish breeding; the Blackfoot nation raised his maw.
While a well loved Scottish trader was the fellow he called Paw.

But his early life was shaken when the trader took some lead;
‘twas intended for another, but it surely killed him dead.
How the little lad was raised between the white-man and the red,
Could have shook some lesser fellows, but it strengthened him instead.

Giving character and purpose, with a deadly speed of gun.
He would track a deadly enemy and shoot him just for fun.
He was kind and mostly quiet, but a mighty man when riled
And the Blood name he’d been known by, as a boy, was The Bear Child.

When he guided up the Mounties to this land so wild and new.
The marveling of the troopers was a thing that grew, and grew.
He was asked by one young Mountie; as he looked so far and wide,
“What’s over yon hill beckoning, and what’s on the other side?”

Without any trace of humor, on a face without a frill,
Not a word from him was wasted as he said; “A nodder hill.”
He was short and he was homely, and bowlegged in his stride.
To all the North West Mounted, he was their greatest source of pride.

His uncanny sense of bearing was the talk of the North West.
In one bright winter snowstorm Potts was really put to the test:
Badly in need of shelter; Jerry led, the troops fell behind.
They just followed where he led them never knowing he was blind.

He was blinded in the snow storm, when the sun shone through so bright.
The snow came down ceaseless and the earth was crystalloid and white.
But without pause or falter he simply led them straight and true
Into that sheltered coulee, and then he led them back out too.

If ever I am asked “Who tamed the West for younger tots?”
I’d surly have to answer; “Guys like little Jerry Potts.”

© 2012, Ron Gale
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Ron comments that the poem is "about a North-West Mounted Police scout in the late 1800s who I have a great admiration for."

That scout is Jerry Potts (1840–1896), and you can read more about him here.


Meadow Crik in the Mountain Range

A way up high in the northern range, where Meadow Crik flows east,
The Bar C cattle summer graze where it’s tough on man and beast.

Old dally Bob and Billy Jack was out on a pleasure ride.
Their horses were green, a little spooked; a mite on the wild side.

They were out checkin’ for strays and, generally checkin’ the range,
Givin’ a lesson, two to the broncs, they rode for a change.

All went good as they rode along in a bright and sunlit state.
‘til they met with a foot rot cow that garnered a cowboy hate.

She was ready to charge just the moment they came into view.
She bellowed with rage and was all ready to take on the two.

Old dally Bob said, “Wild broncs be darned, we’re kinda in a fix.
Like it or not we’ll treat this cow, and won’t stand for any tricks.”

With that he shook his poly out and he swang her straight and true.
He draped it on that doggie’s horns; he’d taken his dallies too.

Billy Jack was a reata man with his gut line coiled neat.
He shook it out, built a loop and lassoed that critters hind feet.

They stretched her there on the cold hard ground, and then all hell broke loose.
Billy’s bronc started to buck, and twisted around in the noose.

The cow jumped up and took after Bob, heading right up the rope.
A wheel and a jump Bobs bronc spun ‘round headin’ out at a lope.

With the cow’s both horns just grazin’ his butt he wer’nt stayin’ ‘round.
A new grasp of mad foot rot cows both rider and horse just found.

Billy got things semi controlled and flipped out another loop,
Ketchin’ the back feet of that mad old cow with a mighty swoop.

That cow went down and lit kinda’ hard, which gave old Bob his chance.
He wheeled around, dallied anew, and set up an all new stance.

They stretched her out, treated her with a shot and a bluestone swipe,
Then rid off and left her to recover and live with her gripe.

If‘n you’re high in the mountain range where Meadow creek flows east.
Ridin’ a bronc, greener’n grass and you meet with a salty beast.

Take a warnin’ cowhands that the impossible can be done.
It’s a cowboys way when you’re livin', workin’ and havin’ fun.

© 2012, Ron Gale
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This poem draws on Gail I. Gardner's (1892-1988) classic, "The Sierry Petes." Ron told us about its inspiration, "This was written in 1969 when I had a wild horse permit, and a couple of hands were helping me catch wild horses on the watersheds of the Ghost River. I used the Bar C’s line shack for our camp and, Horst, the man who managed the ranch at that time told me this story."



I've been around for quite a while,
they say I'm gettin' old.
I don't remember all that's said
nor everything I'm told.

My false teeth don't fit proper now
when chewin' up my food.
Some people look aghast at me,
but sayin' nothing rude.

My horse looks o'r the fence at me
I just ain't ridin' much.
I still find time to get around
But in the truck and such.

My strength was really something when
I used to work to live.
When I grabbed a holt of somethin',
that somethin' had to give.

But now that I'm so much older
it's not the same you see.
When I grab a holt of somethin'
the thing that gives is me.

© 2014, Ron Gale
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Cattle Pennin'

The Calgary Stampede in seventy two,
With a young buckskin mare and her own sire too.
Me’n my son Bronc, a boy of twelve; but brass,
We were goin’ to enter a pennin’ class.

The cattle were wild; they’d bin greatly shook’d up.
We were the fourth team out when our time came up.
We’d just entered the herd and trust ta our luck.
When the mare I’m a ridin’ decided ta buck.

My son was real good, as I’d so taught him how.
And both horses experienced, with lots’ of cow.
And the things that they knew weren’t written in books.
And neither were there on a count’a their looks.

In sortin' our cattle, they’d marked out our four.
We entered the herd and there’s three by the door.
We sorted them out and pushed them out a ways.
Bronc held them out there in that wide open maize.

I went back ta gather the one left behind.
She's tight in the herd, but no trouble to find.
But ta get her out she wanted another.
They stuck together like it was her mother.

I brought them both out and to our group; and then,
We herded them close ‘til they entered the pen.
Then we needed one out; that unmarked critter.
We’re hoping our best for a real herd quitter.

She looked our way and we gave her an openin’.
She started on out, just like we were hopin’.
As soon as she was out I chased her on down.
On back ta the herd, and we soon heard the sound.

As they announced the times in the final scene.
Ours were the fastest that there had ever been.
We set double records in pennin’ that day,
Bronc “the youngest”; our “time” a record ta stay.

© 2014, Ron Gale
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




Tied Hard and Fast

A group of us met there one mornin’ at dawn
Ta go checkin’ cattle, an carryin’ on.
The weather was great with the grass on the way
As we wandered along enjoyin’ the day.

The group of us youngsters; was Herb, Gord and Don
Along with myself, and my handle is Ron.
Herb was well mounted on a big buckskin horse
That was known to be quick, although kinda’ coarse.

His saddle; “a” class with a bronc bustin’ tree,
His rope was a nylon, tied ‘not to come free.’
He often remarked on some days in the past
“That his rope was ‘ready’ an’ tied hard and fast.”

We spotted a cow that was standin’ alone,
When she spotted us that sure set down the tone.
She took off a runnin’ and limpin’ a lot,
We knew we were seein’ a case of foot rot.

Now treatin’ that cow was the first thing to do,
With our lariats swingin’ and a “yahoo.”
We took after that cow with Herb in the lead,
He roped that ‘ol’ heifer a goin’ full speed.

Buck slid to a stop; when the cow hit the end
That lariat screamed and it started to send,
A message to all, that somethin’ had to give,
If the cow, the horse and the man were to live.

Then the cinch let plumb loose, and over Buck’s neck,
Came Herb in the saddle enactin’ a wreck.
Behind that ol’ cow in the followin’ rush,
Came Herb in the saddle a mowin’ buck brush.

They slid and they bounced ‘til they met with a tree,
Which stopped that ‘ol doggie; now waiting for me.
I fashioned a loop, which I dabbed on her hocks,
While Herb’s recoupin’ from “that school of hard knocks.”

He dallied her ‘round the tree of her choosin’,
And we then knew “that this battle she’s loosin’.”
We treated her fast and then turnin’ her loose,
She took off from there like a gallopin’ goose.

Herb patched up his cinch and we’re all headed home,
While I’m just a thinkin’ ‘bout writin’ this poem.
The question we’re thinkin’ is finally asked;
“Is it really wise being tied hard and fast.”

© 2015, Ron Gale
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




A Ride

In my saddle I ride to clean out my inside
of the cares I partake of this world.
As I ride o’er the sod I am closer to God,
and the best of my thoughts are unfurled.

A tormented Iran is no where in my plan,
nor this troubled old world if it rots.
Of the world in turmoil; of the gas and the oil;
far away from my mind are these thoughts.

Across faraway plains, my so peace full mind gains,
as the sun and the breezes I feel.
I have nothing to care, as I’m breathin’ fresh air,
I’m no longer a cog in a wheel.

© 2015, Ron Gale
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



 What's New | Poems | Search

 Features | Events  

The BAR-D Roundup | Cowboy Poetry Week

Poetry Submissions 

Subscribe | Newsletter | Contact Us

  Join Us!


Authors retain copyright to their work; obtain an author's
permission before using a poem in any form. is a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc., a Federal and California tax-exempt non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization.  

Site copyright information