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Shawnee, Oklahoma



A Sign of the Times 

The article in our equine newsletter
Said, horseman mark this date.
A local ranch would be driving cattle
and wanted riders to participate.

The cattle drive would last six days
Starting at the end of the week.
Described as the perfect activity
if a change of pace is what you seek.

So I called for more information:
How savvy did my horse have to be?
I could bring a good solid gelding
or my filly, who was just coming three.

The voice said bring the filly if you wish
This ought to do her some good.
If you want to get her spinning hard
and listening when she should.

And how much experience would riders need?
I'd heard Arizona cattle were faster than deer.
The cattle I'd worked were more like dogs;
They were fed from a truck half the year.

The voice said I sounded perfect.
Although I rated myself less than fair.
I was then assured I possessed the skills
That would allow me to do my share.

They didn't ask to see me ride,
And to me that just didn't make sense.
Why would they hire me to do this job
without checking my experience?

I was reminded that this chance was unique,
 I was sure proud they'd selected me.
And for this rare privilege (and meals of course)
A mere thousand bucks would be the fee.

I stammered and swallowed and finally chocked out,
"You mean you're charging a fee?"
I'm afraid I must respectfully decline,
You see, I thought you'd be paying me!

I guess its a sign of our changing times
When now there can be found
People who will pay to round up cattle
Instead of the other way around!

© 2002, Tammy McDonald
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Teaching Girls to Pack 

Horses aren't anything new to me, I've ridden most of my life.
Except for a period of a year or so when I gave them up to become a wife.
I've long since resumed my riding, English or Western I really don't care.
But I'm tired of riding in circles and never going anywhere!

I love the wide open spaces being an outdoorsy kind of person.
I figured if I could just learn to pack a horse, I'd change my scenery for certain.
I decided packing had to be easy, if cowboys and hunters could do it.
If those old boys could learn the trade there couldn't be that much to it.

So I bought myself a book called "Horse Packing Made Easy"
But when I opened it up and started to read, my stomach started feeling queasy.
The book described a simple knot, pictured in appendix A.
But following those instructions was like learning to macramé!

The picture of the knot I'd learn looked like a plate of spaghetti.
If I had to use that knot to pack, I'll spend the whole day just getting ready.
There were other pictures in my book of pack animals big and hairy.
They sure confused the author though, he kept calling them "canaries."

Well I might be inexperienced, but I'm certainly not a fool.
They were big and ugly and had long ears and where I come from that's a Mule.
I finally through the book away, I wouldn't read another word.
I couldn't take this author seriously if he would put packs upon a bird!

Because learning to pack from a book wasn't working out so good.
I decided to call a friend of mine who packs for his livelihood.
I asked him if he could give me some tips and he said he'd give it a whirl.
He said he thought I was handy then he added, "for a girl."

Now why did he have to say that? I'll hate those words till the day I die!
It caused me to make a big mistake, I proceeded to tell him a lie.
I've done this lots of times before, I've just come to listen and look
He had no way of learning the truth, all I knew came out of that book.

Still I thought this was going to be easy, how much could there be to it?
You just tie your stuff on a saddle, heck even hunters can do it!
So I drove up to the Grand Canyon, Ross would show me how packin's done.
He made everything sound so easy, I was thinking this ought to be fun.

As I watched Ross pack his mules, his hands they fairly flew.
And all the while he spoke to me of the knots he thought I knew.
He asked how I liked the diamond, I said "I like diamonds fine.
I think they look great on fingers especially when they're mine!"

And what did I think of the Crow's foot? I said it's an important part of the bird.
But what does this have to do with packing?  This conversation was becoming absurd.
Between the Sawbuck and the Decker, he asked which I preferred to use.
Since I didn't know the difference, I answered, "go ahead, you chose.'"

He handed me a Decker saddle, but which way does this thing go?
The front and the back both look alike, I really didn't know.
As I tried to put the saddle on, I made an awful mess.
That I didn't know breast collar from britchin, I finally had to confess.

With help from Ross and practice, I've learned to accomplish this feat.
I'm planning my first pack trip, my training is now complete.
However, I'm still having some trouble getting started, because to my dismay I've found
I've finally learned to tie the knots but I can't lift my load off the ground!

© 2002, Tammy McDonald
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Tammy McDonald is the videographer who filmed the outstanding benefit for Joel Nelson at Elko, 2002.  See more about the event and the video here.  She also filmed the benefit auction for Larry McWhorter that took place at Elko in 2003.

Read Tammy McDonald's poem for Larry McWhorter, Anam Cara - Soul Friends posted with other tributes to him, here



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