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SUE DERKSEN
Princeton, British Columbia
About Sue Derksen

 

Recognized as one of

Lariat Laureate Runner Up
for her poem, The Cowboy Way

 

 

 

 

The Cowboy Way


I was ridin out back on the "24K,"
The clouds in the sky were ominous grey.
Wind cut through my bone-dry, lining and all,
The rain pelted hard, drops big as a ball.
 
But me and my Paint had a big job to do.
The fence near the creek had busted right through,
Ten head of Hereford's went missin that day,
All of them heavy with calves on the way.
 
We rode up the "Bug Infest" road to the tracks,
Then circled around to make our way back.
I spotted a cougar on the rocks near the bluff,
Lickin her chops like she'd had just enough.
 
Teak snorted and side-stepped, her ears were straight flat.
(She still bares the scars from that old mountain cat.)
I urged her to go on with a "Steady now, girl,"
Gave a cluck and a whistle...we were off in a whirl.
 
We rode on to a clearing, off to the right
Where it would be safe to make camp for the night.
By this time, the wind was blowing so hard
I knew finding cattle was not in the cards.
 
I tried to make fire, but that proved no good,
So under a lone fir, Teak and I stood.
The rain kept on fallin, we were so wet and cold,
Had a hard time that night...I was feelin right "old."
 
Next mornin, the sky turned a bright white and blue,
The sun shinin down, warmed us right through.
I saddled my  friend, we went on up the trail,
Tired...but determined we would not fail.

We rode to the top of a knoll and then down
When I heard that "Oh so familiar" sound.
And there, just ahead, by a stand of Jack pine
Were ten Hereford girls and calves, counting nine.
 
As we pushed them all home, my Paint, Teak, and me,
I spotted that cougar high up in a tree.
Content with her meal, she lazed on a branch,
I knew we'd be safe and get back to the ranch.
 
Under the tree, the calf's carcass, I saw,
Three cubs trying hard to give it a gnaw.
 I thought to myself, "It amazes me
The circles of life that a cowboy might see."
 
But I also knew how lucky we'd been
To have lost only one? Why, it caused me to grin!
My heart felt so light as we rounded the bend
To have it turn out so good in the end.
 
No matter the hardship or struggle, you see...
Livin this life is the best there could be.
Cause, I know, in my heart, at the end of the day,
Life is worth livin the Cowboy Way.

2005, Sue Derksen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

We asked Sue about her inspiration for this poem and she told us:

I wrote "The Cowboy Way" partly from my own experience and partly from a memory told to me by a neighbor.  I was followed by a Big Cat on a ride up the Bug Infest Road.  I never saw her going up, but on the way back, saw impressions in the snow.  She had been so silent!  Later, I noticed her high on a rock cliff licking her paws.  The next day, I spotted her in the pasture where my cows were calving. It reminded me of the story I was told.  I combined the two experiences and wrote this poem.

We asked Sue why she writes Cowboy Poetry and she responded:

I want to pass forward to next generations the stories and poems of this lifestyle so it never fades from life or memory.  This is heartfelt and so important to me.


 

Honour

On a warm summer's evenin in Princeton
By the light of the moon, in a pen,
A filly was born....before midnight,
A wonder, that I could not ken.

She was soft as a cloud, brown and glistenin,
With mane and tail black as the coal.
She raised her sweet face to the moonlight
And whinnied....my sweet little foal.

She struggled to gather her footing
While her Mom and I watched, from a ways.
She was up, she was down, and then up once agin,
Shook her head, to get out o' the daze.

Mom nickered and babe came a walkin.
She could smell the sweet milk from afar,
Then stumbled once more and then buckled.
She just couldn't get to the bar!

The mare moved up along side her
And gave her a nudge to help out.
The babe snuggled and suckled her mother.
The milk frothin all round her snout.

As Mamma cleaned up the sweet filly
I knelt down and stroked "Honour's" face.
And wondered allowed, what good I had done
To deserve this much of God's Grace.

2004, Sue Derksen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Sue told us, Honour was the first foal born to the ranch, her Mom, my first ever.  I have tried to describe, from that perspective, how utterly awesome it was for me to experience this birth.  It has changed my life forever."

 

 

 

Beans!


  On a cattle drive, not long ago, we were all put to the test.
  Thirty days and thirty nights, with hardly any rest.
  Ridin', ropin' and turning cows from sunup til into the night.
  Tired and dirty at the end of the day, we'd sit at the firelight
  And eat cold beans.

  The next day'd come and the same old thing would happen agin and agin.
  But my buddies and me are a hardy lot, we did it with a grin.
  The cattle balked and stomped and ran when we didn't want them to.
  We'd sort it out, get them settled down and when our day was through,
  We ate cold beans

  I could hardly wait to get back home to my wife and little ones.
  I dreamed of roast beef dinners, potatoes, carrots and buns.
  Apple pie and sweet corn bread, bacon and eggs and such.
  Oh, how I longed for that good hot meal made with a loving touch!
  While I ate cold beans.

  Well, the day arrived that we said goodbye and each of us headed back.
  I rode as hard and as fast as I could, I gave my horse no slack.
  I had dreamed so long of a good hot meal, I could taste it as I rode.
  My lips turned up in a great big smile as I loped on down the road.
  I got to the house, got off my horse and tied her to the post.
  I could hardly wait for the welcome home I'd been thinking of the most.
  I went inside, looked all around, but nothing did I see!
  C'ept a note on top the table and it was addressed to me.

  Said, "Darlin, I really missed you and hope you come home soon.
  Went to visit Elly-Mae...should be home by June.
  Love you, Sweety, with all my heart but had to babysit.
  Your dinners are in the ice box...hope you enjoy every bit.
  I made you beans."

2005, Sue Derksen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Sue told us about this poem: "... it is real...a real memory from one of my friends who has owned a cattle ranch for over sixty years...As well as owning my own horse/cattle ranch, albeit quite small, I have friends who have much larger ones.  Over the last thirty years, I have listened to fascinating stories about their lives 'way back when' from the turn of the century (1900) til now through three generations of 'cattle family.' Real stories, real lives, real Cowboys. They were somewhat responsible for my coming to Princeton to live the life I have always longed for. My poems try to encompass their experience and my perspective as a 'learner' where everything is new and exciting and every day is rewarding...no matter what the challenge."

 

Gettin' Bucked Off Bandit


Came time, one day to saddle up and get aboard the Stud.
The Tobiano, "Wonder Boy," who has the finest blood.
He was so calm, he didn't flinch at the riggin' being done,
He didn't mind when I got up, and I thought it was fun!
We walked about the round pen twice, and turned around once more.
Didn't know then, what was on his mind, or what he had in store.

I felt myself rock back and forth and thought I had it licked.
Then fell off his left shoulder and got my rib cage kicked.
Stood up, sat down, stood up again, boy did my head spin.
Bandit walked around me thrice and I know I saw him grin!
He bent his head down to my nose as I sat down to rest,
Gave me a sigh then trotted on, puffed out at the chest.

I knew I had to get back on so up again I went.
I talked to him and stroked his neck, hopin' he'd be a gent.
Well, he didn't balk or buck or strain as we went round and round,
I thought he was broke, but the next thing I knew, I was sittin' on the ground!
I went and got the "carrot stick" and lunged him around and then,
Kept makin' him do circles and spins 'til he was "joined" again.

His head bent down, he licked his lips, then stopped and looked at me.
Accepting me as his leader, I knew we'd be home free.
He followed me the way he should, with quiet in his eyes,
So I knew this time when I got on, there would be no surprise.
We kept on workin' the pen awhile before I let him ease.
"Open up the gate, there, Bob, and say a big prayer, please!"

Now, everyday that I get on and he steps up in stride,
I remember all our effort and hold it dear inside.
Getting' bucked off Bandit's been the best for him and me,
It taught us respect, him for his strength, and me, humility.
I see his beauty and power, now I hold it in my hand.
He sees me as a leader who will know and understand.

2005, Sue Derksen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Sue told us: Bandit has taught me lots, to say the least, and he is my inspiration for this poem.  I can relate so many things in life to the "breaking" of this fine stallion... and me!  He has taught me patience, kindness, communication, and most importantly, trust. This picture was taken just after he bucked me off:

 

 

 

I Am a Canadian Cowgirl

I'm five feet, two, my eyes are blue
My hair is auburn red,
I raise the finest American Paints
Princeton's ever bred!
When I'm alight, my black and white,
I see our countries, true.
No lines are there to divide us though
We seem blended through.
I am a Canadian Cowgirl,
Who rides American Paints!

A black spot here, a white one near,
Listen, I want to relate!
Could be Texas or Saskatchewan
It's Province next to State!
I see no lines, see friends of mine,
The borders are not there!
I see ranchers trying to get on by
Treating all with care.
I am a Canadian Cowgirl,
Who rides American Paints!

From sea to sea there could not be
Two places more at blend.
I can see it every time I ride
One of my Paints my friend.
So brother dear, I hope you'll hear
What I am trying to say.
There are no boundaries in Country Life
While we honour the Cowboy way!
I am a Canadian Cowgirl
Who rides American Paints!

2005, Sue Derksen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Sue told us:  I was riding up in the mountains one day around July 1st, which is Canada ay, and close to July 4th, Us Independence Day on this little two year old mare, Mi Amiga. Her name means " My friend." I have lots of friends and family in the US and thought about how much we are the same...especially cowboys!  We live mostly the same way, work the same way and this poem just came to my heart.  I am so proud to be Canadian and I am so honoured to raise American Paints. So, it is not a political statement at all, just a celebration of who we are and how much we are alike.

 


My Little Crooked Calf


Scared the heck out o' me the day you were born,
All twisted and crooked and lookin' forlorn,
Your mom wouldn't nurse you and kicked your poor head,
I thought that for sure, the next day, you'd be dead.
But, you got through the night in spite of the birth
I looked in your eyes and saw just what you're worth
My sweet Sadie calf, you were determined to live
So I, Bob and Evelyn gave all we could give.

We tied up your mom to a hitch in the stall,
Got colostrums from friends who'd been there done it all.
Bob persevered with your mother each day,
Tried to get her to feed you, just the right way.
Meanwhile WE fed you so you would stay strong
Not knowing if what we were doing was wrong
Each day we would try to make momma take you
And just when we thought it would never come true.

Your mom turned her head and looked at you then,
Started lickin' your brown body again and again,
She groomed you all over, inside and out
You were so crooked, she near turned you about!
Reluctant, at first, from the kicks you'd been through
You finally got closer to sip her sweet dew
We watched with amazement.it had been a long haul
I wiped off my tears that had started to fall.

And as you were nurtured the right way a while
Your body grew straight as the hand on a dial
Out in the sun in the grass green as jade
We watched as you and the other calves played
"Some rancher I am", I said to my friend
"How can I ever let Sadie's life end?"
He smiled a wise smile I will never forget
"We don't have to think about that day just yet"

So I'd walk to the field and call you by name
You'd come runnin' up to play "Sadie's game"
You'd lick me all over and nuzzle my chest
For the grain I had hidden inside of my vest
You'd follow me down to drink from the spring
I marveled at the joy my dear Sadie could bring.
Then one day fate through us a twist, as it will
I realized that my calf would have to be killed

You stepped in the trailer with eyes full of trust
My heart was so heavy, I thought it would bust
But I wanted to be there to help you to go
And when you went down and your eyes lost their glow
I felt your sweet spirit run over the hill
And when I go back, I can see it there still

In my heart's eye, my Sadie, you are almost full grown,
With a brown crooked calf, all of your own.

2006, Sue Derksen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Sue told us: This is a true story about Sadie, my little crooked calf.  She was never supposed to leave the ranch until she was old and had delivered many calves. It was a very sad day when I had to have her put down. Just because we ranch, does not mean we do not feel. This poem expresses the feelings we have to suppress sometimes in order to carry on.

I have many things to learn, being relatively new to ranching and ranch life.  The hardest for me is to not feel.  Sadie was so special to me because of her struggle and her ultimate fate just didn't seem fair.  Guess that's where all the emotion came from in writing this poem.

 

The Team

Nothing is so wondrous on a sunny summer's day,
Than hookin' up the team, to drive a little way,
Through countryside in Princeton
Where the pace becomes so still,
I can hear the creek a runnin'
As I pass by at my will...
And there is Peace!

The buggy bounces gently as I make my way along,
The rhythm of the spinning wheels reminds me of a song,
Sung long ago, by pioneers,
Travelling in their plight,
To reach their piece of ranchin land
Driving day and night...
To find a home!

JD and Reba trot along as coupled as can be
Each other's legs goin up and down in fine-tuned harmony,
Their manes and tails just glistenin,
In the sun so warm and bright,
Their bodies shine like a looking glass,
The team of sorrel and white...
And there is Joy!

Autumn comes, the parade day's set, excitement's in the air!
We ready the team to participate in the Annual Fall Fair.
In early morn the work begins
We clean, we brush, we shine.
Place sparkles here and ribbons there,
Paint Maple Leafs so fine...
I am so proud!

The parade begins, lined up just so,
Grand Marshall's at the lead.
The McLaughlin's shiny, red and black,
Brass sparkles like a bead.
The team is ready to pull ahead,
They paw the ground, but heed!
Then with a whistle and the reins in hand,
I cluck to my awesome steeds...
"Getup, my girls, getup!"

All through the streets, the people smile
And rise to give a  hand.
I'm so proud of JD and Reba today,
As they represent this land,
And all the things of yesteryear,
Normal then, now so grand...
And there is Love!

I heard a child, about, five, I'd say
Cry, "Mommy, look... Horsie!"
I smiled and remembered when I was a girl,
For... years ago, that was me
Who dreamed of having a team to drive
In all of its reverie...
And the dream came true!

2006, Sue Derksen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 


This picture is of my very first time driving a team (JD and Reba) through the streets of Princeton, BC  for the "Canada Day Parade." We won first prize and it was all so exciting and wonderful. I will never forget it as long as I live! I had to write it down in a poem to keep the memory forever.  The
buggy is a 1927 McLaughlin, in its original condition.

Since this day, I have learned to love buggy driving and continue towards driving a team of Percherons someday! Maybe more than two!

 

 

About Sue Derksen:

The 24K Ranch is nestled in the mountains just outside Princeton, BC Canada. As far back as I can remember, I have loved those four legged creatures man called horse and the lifestyle ranching enhances.  I am pursuing my greatest passion raising American Paints.  Someone once said: "Ask me to show you poetry in motion and I will show you...the horse!"  Bandit, 24K's black and white stud, and all the mares and foals exemplify that saying. Second to my passion for horses, is that for relating, through poetry, what I see and feel living "life the cowboy way".  Not always easy, but ever rewarding.

You can email Sue Derksen.


 

 

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