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Christmas Swappin'

Christmas morning at our winter camp began early this year.
I’m snuggled in my soogans when Kathy hollers in my ear,

“Wake up! There’s a prowler! I hear someone outside!”
I stumbles to the closet; startled, sleepy, bleary-eyed,

Pulls on a shirt and Wranglers against the winter weather
Not wantin’ to traipse outside In just my all-togethers.

Grabs up my forty-five, makin’ sure the shooter’s loaded,
Dons my Stetson and my boots since the yard is likely mudded.

Steps out in the moonlight, early morning clear and cold
Grumblin’ to myself about gettin’ too danged old,

And how I’d rather still be sleepin’ nestled happy in the sack
‘Stead of trudgin’ through the yard, cold air creepin’ down my back.

When I notice, in the frost, there’s footprints on our shingles
Trackin’ right up to the chimney and I conclude... Kris Kringle’s

Paid a visit to our camp! So I runs back in the kitchen,
Where I hollers in to Kat “It was Santa! Donner! Blitzen!”

She yells “Take off them muck boots ‘fore comin’ in this place!”
But the kid in her’s emergin’, I can see it in her face.

We dashes to the living room where our Christmas tree is rockin’.
Donner’s grazin’ popcorn strings while Santa’s stuffin’ stockin’s.

Kat gathers broom and dustpan, eyein’ the floor behind the deer;
Hands the tools to Santa and with menacin’ look says “Here!”

There was oranges, nuts and chocolate, gift wrapped packages and more,
But I’m gettin’ some suspicious and I turns back to the door.

I’d already counted reindeer and my tally’s somewhat off.
I peers out at the haystack and there’s that scamp, Rudolph,

Red nose buried in the horse hay stacked adjacent to the barn,
Where the mares is all a-twitter, nickerin’ their alarm

At this antlered thief who’s eatin’ more than any horse’s share,
His belly near a-burstin’—pilferin’ winter forage there.

I saddles up ol’ Sherman, builds a big loop in my twine.
Gonna lass’ this deer’s hind trotters - learn him manners he should mind.

When I hears St. Nick a sayin’ “Hold on cowboy, do ya ‘spose
We could come to some arrangement that’d spare ol’ Rudolph’s nose?

Now, you’ve left no milk nor cookies, and for that I thank you friend,
As the missus oft’ asserts—my old belt has reached its end.

But my reindeer, on the other hand have gotten sorta gant.
I haven’t floated teeth this year and they’re lackin’ nourish...mant.

Now, your sweet hay shore suits him, would a barter meet yer needs?
Say, chaps and hand-tooled saddle for several bales of feed?”

We shakes and he jumps to his sleigh; produces empty toy sack;
Stuffs twenty bales inside, then hands me bull-hide chinks and kack.

Gets his team back in the harness and before I blink an eye
He’s off and chargin’ westward—just a speck up in the sky!

The wife’s in cookin’ breakfast when I strolls in with my plunder,
She says “Where’s mine?” Then eyes the Christmas tree in wonder....

“You weren’t forgotten Hon,” I sez, and hugs her tenderly,
“He left manure fork and Ironing board underneath the tree!”

That night I’m wishin’ Kringle’d kept her presents in his pouch
As I’m eatin’ cold leftovers and sleepin’ on the couch!

© 2011, Terry Nash
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.

This poem is a part of Christmas at the BAR-D, 2011


December Stragglers

Morning’s pale sun gave way to thick clouds
As we all saddled our mounts.
Ridin’ from camp, our mission today
Is needin’ to fill the count.

Three hundred ten was gathered last month,
The tally was sixteen shy.
We rode the breaks and benches for sign;
No tellin’ how they’d got by.

Two solid weeks we searched the JU,
Combin’ the brush for eight pair,
With little to show for our ridin’
‘Cept that the stragglers weren’t there.

Those cattle were nowhere on our range;
They’d maybe returned to Hell’s Hole;
High country grass they’d grazed since July,
Till fall’s storms started to roll.

We’d gathered three pair and one hunter
A-hoofin’ it into town,
But we’re still ten head out today and
The next big storm’s blowin’ down.

We’re buckin’ a head-wind this morning,
Five riders watchin’ for sign.
The Lasalles are fadin’ from our view;
The wind’s beginnin’ to whine.

We wallered deep drifts t’ward the 2V
Followin’ Old Raley’s hunch:
“This new storm’ll bring ‘em down,” he said,
“We’ll likely find the whole bunch.”

Gates were left open all through the range
So stragglers could pass on through.
Veteran cows will know to move down
When winter dictates they do.

The clouds were hangin’ level and dark,
Raley was settin’ the pace.
We topped out above Luster Basin,
The first flakes hittin’ my face.

Jackson pulled up his horse and pointed
At our stragglers, single file,
Tails to the wind and stringin’ our way
Down the draw a quarter mile.

Wild old Snort was a-leadin’ the bunch.
We split and got out of sight.
We’ll swing in behind and then flank ‘em
Providin’ our timing’s right.

The cattle filed past and we stepped out
Snort threw her head flingin’ snot.
Jess was ready when she quit the trail;
He turned her back at a trot.

The old rip knew where she’s goin’.
She and the rest reached the pines,
She led ‘em through and out on the road
With us just ridin’ behind.

The storm at our backs now, we’re ridin’;
Wet heavy flakes flyin’ past.
Sllckers drippin’, our horses are soaked,
We’re hopin’ our luck will last.

Past Mountain Island, down off Black Hill,
She struck the trail to the north
Where the Beiser corrals stood waitin’.
Two flank riders sashayed forth

To get in position to turn ‘em,
But Ol’ Snort just walked on in.
We backed in the trucks and trailered ‘em
Just as the light’s gettin’ thin.

It’s usually never that easy,
You mostly earn what you bring.
We got lucky - our stragglers found us
In winter’s cold icy sting.

© 2012, Terry Nash
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


Terry told us about the poem's inspiration, "We summer our cattle on private ground, pooling them with several other herds at Glade Park and Pinon Mesa, high country situated a few miles west of Grand Junction, in Western Colorado. We throw the cattle on the mountain in early June and usually gather and bring 'em back to the valley in November, when the weather dictates we do. It usually takes three or four 'sweeps' a-horseback to clean the 6000 acre pasture, and there's always a few stragglers reluctant to leave.  Riding the pasture looking for those last few head isn't always in the best of weather.  'December Stragglers' came from a ride like that."

"December Stragglers" is the title poem on Terry's 2013 CD. Find a video interview here with him, created by Aspen Leaf Studios.


Pool Riders

In Memory of Jim Platz, Will Kennon and pilot Dana Brewer

11 News Dateline: Collbran, CO December 14, 2013 Small plane crashes.

She called ‘em “consortium cowboys”—figured folks’d know
What they do if she described ‘em thataway.
Tried her newsgirl honest best to say they’d booked that plane
So’s to fly the range and maybe locate strays.

You could hang a fancy tag to tell folks what they were,
But they’s just cowpunchers doin’ what they could.
And them of us who knew ‘em would likely testify
Both were sure-nuff cowboys, both were just damn good

At the life each man had chosen in his early boyhood days,
And at everything you needed from a hand.
They’d hired the plane that day, with the weather gettin’ clear,
To look for remnants still out on forest land.

Fall had been spent gatherin’ and shippin’ weaner calves
And then movin’ cows to lower winter ground.
Snow was layin’ heavy now on forest summer lease;
It’s December and the count’s a few head down.

The clock’s a-tickin’ now, the prospects lookin’ grim
For cattle that hadn’t yet moved down.
If winter set in hard and the snow stacked up too deep
It just might be spring if those few cows were found.

Commitment to the herd brought a sense of urgency;
Made those two men hire the plane and take to air
With a long-time friend and pilot and his Piper Cub
As a last ditch ‘try’ to find the missing pairs.

The pilot likely did everything that could be done
When the little aircraft went into a stall,
But flyin’ low and slow in the mountain’s high thin air,
There’s no way out when the plane began free-fall.

Townfolks barely noticed it was two fine cowboys died
When the morning news brought word about the crash,
But no words could ease the anguish friends and fam’ly felt
When word spread across the valley in a flash.

The pretty words the newsgirl used helped viewers understand
But to cattle folk it sounded sorta strange.
And consortium or no, the folks who knew these men
Will sure enough feel their absence on the range.

© 2014, Terry Nash
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


Terry comments, "A pool rider, at least in Western Colorado, is typically a good cowpuncher who takes on the job of riding for a group of cattle owners who have 'pooled' their herds together on one piece of mountain or desert graze when there's feed and water enough for a large number of cattle on a forest or BLM lease or privately owned ground. The pool rider will be responsible for checking cattle regularly and keeping an eye out for any health problems that may arise, plus on the condition of fences, water availability, and for moving cattle around the range to insure the grazing is uniform. This allows the herd owners an assurance that the cattle he has turned out on range are healthy and well taken care of without having to break free and ride the range regularly himself. The pool riders I pay tribute to in this 'Pool Riders' poem were two of the best. They worked together riding herd, and when time allowed did whatever it took to earn a living, whether it was driving a cattle truck or tending to their own small herds, or just helping out at brandings. A lot of local cattle folk relied on these two men, and called them 'friend.'"




  About Terry Nash:
provided 2011

Raised on a farm/ranch cow/calf operation on the High Plains of Colorado, Terry Nash's lifetime career of workin' to pay for his cow habit caused him to drift to a small ranch near Loma, Colorado.  He and his wife have cut back to a semi-retired forty hours a week that keeps their horses and cattle in feed. The ship Nash has been waitin' on has come into view on the horizon, lookin' suspiciously like a row boat takin' on water. Never passin' up a chance to say something, Terry performs his poetry and classics for gatherings and wherever folks'll listen.

December Stragglers



December Stragglers
Rancho in the Rain (Henry Herbert Knibbs)
Cowman's Lot
When They've Finished Shipping Cattle in the Fall (Bruce Kiskaddon)
An Old Western Town (Bruce Kiskaddon)
The Married Man (Badger Clark)
Bear Ropin' Buckaroo (S. Omar Barker)
Waitin' on the Drive (Larry McWhorter)
Black Draught (Larry McWhorter)
Windmill (Colen Sweeten)
Drylander's Christmas (S. Omar Barker)
Christmas Tradin'

From the release announcement:

Thirteen tracks make up this new collection, showcasing original poems by Nash and solid classics by poets such as Larry McWhorter, Badger Clark, Colen Sweeten, and a few others, providing a broad sample of the cowboy poetry Terry delivers at gatherings throughout the West.

The title poem, "December Stragglers", describes real-life happenings on the high country range where Terry runs his cattle.  "A Cowman's Lot" gives the listener unique insight into what a cowman sometimes deals with during calving in the late winter.
The CD was recorded by studio owner and producer Ken Dravis at in Grand Junction, Colorado.  On several tracks, Dravis joins in with backing tracks of his original guitar work, making for some darn good listening.

From Rick Huff's Best of the West Reviews:

Terry Nash’s new album is what I feel cowboy poetry should be all about. Here you get well-crafted mountings of good stories with genuine, believable delivery. Add a nice ratio of originals to classics from Kiskaddon, Knibbs, Barker, Sweeten, McWhorter and Clark.  There!  You’ve just created a winner. 

The collection features very intelligently applied original guitar music from Ken Dravis, but music alone won’t save the day.  Ultimately it comes down to words.  From Nash’s “Cowman’s Lot” try this picture of a cowboy watching a newborn calf’s first nursing in winter’s chill:  “The man smiled to hear the smack of wet lips...‘knew the calf was getting his meal…inner warmth would then spread from nose to hips, and Mom’s rough tongue would seal the deal.” 

In all respects Terry Nash’s December Stragglers is a superior offering in the genre. 

December Stragglers is $16 postpaid, available from
Terry Nash at 1278 N Road, Loma, CO 81524; 970-261-6037;;


Calf Pullin' Made Simple



Hi and Stella
The Countess and Clementine
A Conversation with Heifers
Comin' Off the Mountain
It's Business
The Free Tank
A True Partner
Grandma and Herb
A Cowboy's Hiccups
Get it on Paper
Morning Madness
Calf Pullin' Made Simple

See Rick Huff's review here.





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