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near Medora, North Dakota
About Sherri Ross

Sherri Ross -- see the whole photo below

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



A rancher rides a lonely trail
Packing salt, mending fence, feeding cows.
Each day brings some new travail
Some days with nothing but bills in the mail.

Up before the sun each day
Summer days start early.
Coffee, bacon, and flapjacks for pay,
The dawn is young when he rides away.

As the day turns old, he heads for home,
Fences mended and cattle moved.
The sun is set in the western dome,
Times like this he lets his spirit roam.

In fall when the hay's cut and cattle brought in
It's time to think of winter.
A farmer's been by to fill the grain bin
To last through cold times that are coming again.

On freezing cold mornings the winter sun's bright
The day starts later each morning.
It's hard to get all the chores done by night
If a blizzard hits late, feed's going to be tight.

Spring can't come soon enough to warm up the land
It's time for new calves to be born.
Up half the night giving a heifer a hand
His reward comes when the calf finally stands.

Now he's not alone by any rate
A woman stands beside him.
A daughter and son peek through a gate
Hushed by the miracle on this night so late.

On those early mornings when he must rise
She's been up before him.
The breakfast ready and it's no surprise
When she packs his lunch before sunrise.

She goes with him whenever she can
When her chores are through.
Gathers up the children, leaves her pots and pans
Wire cut colts and calving heifers know her gentle hand.

Not all the time are things real hard
There's things that make it all worthwhile.
Kids bottle feeding calves in the yard
With laughter so bright and a new pup on guard.

A wide blue sky, not a cloud in sight
Green grass, good cover and water.
More stars than they can count at night
A bond with the land that feels so right.

Though seasons range from drought to snow
They'd not have it another way.
For surely God would not bestow
This life on folks who cannot grow.

The work is hard, the rewards are great
When things get tough, folks draw close.
There's always a good hot meal on the plate
And a welcome sign hangs over the gate.

The little family is sure each day
To give thanks to their Creator.
For little things like a good crop of hay
To big things like a child's birthday.

A good cow horse, real close friends
Four generations in one place.
And no matter what the worldly trends
A faith in God that never ends.

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



'Twas just days before Christmas
And down at the ranch,
All the creatures were restless,
Even birds on the branch.
I in my slicker And Pa in his cap,
Didn't have any time For even a nap.

For all knew that soon
From up in the sky
Would come crazy Jake
His arrival was nigh.
He flies in every year
Without any reason,
Says he wants to be with us
Through each Christmas season.

He has his own plane
And don't need a reindeer.
He lands in a pasture
That we must keep clear.
Now we all remember
The first time he came,
Without any warning
His excuse rather lame.

Couldn't find a pay phone
Out here in the sticks,
So thought he'd surprise us
Just like old St. Nick.
But who was surprised more
Old Jake or me?
When he attempted to land
Between cottonwood trees?

He'd not been here for years
And things tend to grow.
Now thirty foot trees
Stood all in a row.
The look on his face
Was some sight to see.
He pulled up just in time
But took the tops off two trees.

In a circle he flew,
A wild look in his eye.
Determined to land and
Get out of the sky.
This time from the north
In a nice gentle glide
Toward some short eaten grass
Where nothing could hide.

Now old Jake was raised
On a ranch where it's warm.
He just didn't know
Cow pies could do harm.
All of us who grew up
In the land where it snows,
Will avoid those cow patties
Whenever they're froze.

Jake put that plane down
Just as nice as could be.
Then hit a hard lump
Doing seventy three.
That plane must have bounced
Ten feet in the air.
We could see that old Jake
Had got quite a scare.

I must give him credit
For keeping his head.
I know  if he hadn't
He would have been dead.
He brought the plane down
This time checking for lumps,
But where he landed next
Was too close to the pump.

Now even in December
That spot just won't freeze.
The mud there comes up
About to your knees.
Jakes wheels hit that mud,
It slowed him right down
And started the plane
A spinnin' around.

One wing was tipped down
The other went up.
Two wheels were stuck tight
In that black gooey muck.
It appeared poor old Jake
Didn't know what to think
When he stepped out of the plane
And started to sink.

With two old catch ropes
And a good heavy chain,
We pulled out crazy Jake
Along with his plane.
The rest of his visit
Was really quite quiet.
He was planning his flight out
And soon had to try it

For take off this time
Things would have to be right.
Jakes old heart couldn't take
Another strong fright.
So we took the hay rake
To the pies in the field,
And picked up all the lumps
The hard ground would yield.

Jake started the plane
And things went just fine.
All the patties were piled
To the side in a line.
We heard him exclaim
As he flew through the skies,
"I'll be back next Christmas
Just clear the cow pies!"

1998, Sherri Ross
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

About Sherri Ross

Howdy from the Badlands!  I am a 5th generation rancher in these western North Dakota Badlands along the Little Missouri River. My great-grandpa came here in 1900 to homestead and raise cattle and children in what we refer to as "God's Country."  My husband, three teenage daughters and I operate a guest ranch to make ends meet. My Dad runs registered Longhorns and Angus, and my daughters run a few head of Herefords that their Great-grandpa gave them to get them started in the cattle business. There are currently four generations of my family living here on the ranch and these days the ranch really only supports one of those generations!

I started writing cowboy poetry a few years ago. I often come up with ideas while I am riding, and a lot of my poems are about personal experiences.   My favorite poems are Christmas poems. Seems cowboys and Christmas are such a perfect mix!  I know a lot of real "old time" cowboys who still do absolutely everything possible (and a few impossible things) horseback in these days of pickup truck roundups and portable corrals.   They are a way for me to see what it must have been like back in the "good ole days," but they are not above using a tractor with a cab and heater for feeding cattle on these freezing Dakota mornings!

We told Sherri to not be shy and tell us more about that guest ranch.   She replied:

The little town closest to us is called Medora. It is the number one tourist attraction in ND, sort of a restored old west tourist town and is the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.Our guest ranch is called Dahkotah Lodge Guest Ranch. The spelling "Dahkotah" comes from my great-grandfather's ranch and originated back in the late 1800's. The photos are taken of me on our ranch and show just how spectacular these North Dakota Badlands are!  If I sound a bit prejudiced, it's 'cause I am!

Sherri Ross

Sherri Ross








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