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

New Underwood, South Dakota
About Troy McNaught Westby



  Slim McNaught writes about Troy McNaught Westby:

My mother was born Troy Hare on January 5, 1916 on a farm east of Glasco, Kansas to parents of Irish and English descent. She married in the summer of 1933 and moved to Nebraska (hence the poem "The Sandhills") where I was born in July of 1934.

In 1935 we moved to a ranch south west of Wanblee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This log house sat on the bank of Bear Creek, with the barn and corrals on one side and the house on the other and a large cottonwood tree laid across the creek for a footbridge.

My mother has been a prolific writer all her life, with shelves and boxes of writings, plus many that have been lost or destroyed over the years. It wasn't always easy keeping material safe from little varmints in the old log houses of the time, plus the weather that came in through the cracks when the chinking crumbled and fell out. When I was small it seemed to me she spent a lot of time mixing mud from the "buffalo wallows" and chinking the openings between the logs in that old ranch home.

Later we moved some miles east of there into a frame house in the "Buzzard Basin" where she lived until she
moved to town in 1956 after I had married and took over the ranch.

                                                                                                          continued below ...

 Four generations: six-month old Troy Hare on her mother's lap, 1916


The Sandhills
The Old Cowpoke
Stayin' Home Alone
Moonlight on the Dardenelles
Branding Day


The Sandhills

Away out West where grass is hay
        And the wind and sand blow all day,
Where the hills are big and roll afar
        No city smog their beauty mar.

Where the days are long and the sun shines bright
        And the herds of cattle are a pretty sight
As they graze upon the far-flung hill
        Nibbling the grass to get their fill.

Where the sky is high and there’s plenty of room
        To graze the stock till that big cattle boom,
Where the pheasants call and the coyotes howl
        And the lobo wolf is on the prowl.

But it’s out in the West where grass is hay
        And the wind and sand blow all day
That men are big in heart and mind,
        And a stranger there will seldom find

A latch string not outa padlocked door,
        Be he either rich or poor;
For the West is the West; ‘twill ever be
        Where men are men and life is free

© 1933, Troy McNaught Westby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This poem was published in 1933 in Ranch Romances magazine



The Old Cowpoke

     My boots are worn
     My pants are torn
My saddle needs repair.
     My hat is old
     My chaps I’ve sold
I’m bound to this wheel chair.

     My rope is frayed
     My spurs mislaid
My hoss is old and lame.
     He nibbles and yawns
     ‘Til daylight’s gone
And I do just the same.

     My hand I’ve played
     My debts I’ve paid
The best is past, it seems.
     To ride the plain
     Come sun or rain
Is the goal in all my dreams.

© Troy McNaught Westby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This poem was written sometime in the 1970s



Stayin' Home Alone

Ain’t ya afeared to stay home at night
          When everyone else goes away?
An’ ya gotta go down ‘n milk th’ cows,
          An’ throw th’ hosses some hay.

An’ feed th’ calves, ‘n slop th’ hogs,
          An’ shut th’ henhouse door.
An’ then heave a sigh ‘n start for th’ house
          With your steps goin’ slower ‘n slower.

‘Cause there ain’t no light shinin’ out that door,
          Ner thru th’ winders, ner cracks.
An’ it makes ya feel all quivery like.
          An’ ya turn right quick t’ look in your tracks.

But ya whistle real hard ‘n walk right in
          An’ light th’ lamp near by.
Then ya look real good under table ‘n chairs
          An’ turn the lamp up high.

Then ya sit in th’ corner ‘n face th’ door
          ‘N ‘magine all things ya kin,
‘Bout robbers, ‘n giants, ‘n lions, ‘n bears
          All tryin’ their best t’ get in.

But gee! Ain’t ya glad when th’ folks come home
          An’ ya run out doors at their call.
“Were you afraid to stay alone, my boy?”
          “Gosh, no. I wasn’t skeered at all!”

© Troy McNaught Westby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




       When the caterpillar sings
       And the night bugs sigh
The spider dances on her silver thread,
       The night hawk dives
       To hear the last refrain
And dew drops sparkle on the honey bees’ bed.

       When the robin stirs
       In his downy nest
And the sun peeks over the Eastern rim,
       Then the Lord looks down
       On His handiwork
And softly utters a glad “amen.”

© Troy McNaught Westby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.





How do I write a poem?
        With my fingers!

        Sitting quietly
        drinking coffee,
staring out the glass door
        thinking of nothing,
        Just looking.

        God punches the keys
of the computer in my head.
        The poem is there
        in its entirety.

        Like a jewel
        to be plucked
from the velvety crevices of my mind,
        it’s ready to be exposed
        to light of day.

© Troy McNaught Westby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


This is an untitled piece written by Troy McNaught Westby sometime in early 2007 in answer to someone’s question.


Moonlight on the Dardanelles

Were you ever in the Dardanelles,
At the loveliest time of year,
When the breezes gently wafted
Songs of natives to your ear?

As the moon, when it slowly ascended
To the jeweled tower of night,
Where it shall reign forever,
Cast a brilliant beam of light.

And made the mighty ocean
Seem a sheet of liquid fire;
And made the roads and pathways
Seem a ribbon of blackest mire.

The natives softly crooning
Songs of love in listening ears,
‘Neath the tall and drooping palm trees
When the waves are lapping near.

You’ll want to go to the Dardanelles,
At the loveliest time of year,
To wash away your woes and cares,
No troubled winds to hear.

© 1930, Troy Hare
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Slim McNaught writes:

My mother, born E. Troy Hare January 5, 1916, wrote this poem while in the eighth grade in Glasgow, Kansas. She has the original handwritten copy, signed, written on a page of note book paper. It is yellowed with age, but still intact.

She said she must have seen the word "Dardanelles," probably in geography class, and the word intrigued her, although she had no idea what it meant. She used "palm trees" in the poem not knowing if there were palm trees in the "Dardanelles," but she had always wanted to see a palm tree.

Here's the original copy:

Slim sent two additional poems from about 1943. He wrote, "Mother's mother (my grandmother) saved these poems when mother was in school. My aunt just gave them to us last May. My two aunts (mother's sisters) handed in mother's poetry as their own when they were in school."


One wintry day I sat in the car,
          Parked by the side of the street,
And watched the people as they passed by
          Their destinies to meet.
Few there were that I could see
          Wore a smile as they hurried along
And none there were that I could hear
          Hummed a snatch of song.
Their brows were furrowed deep with care
          Their eyes bent toward their feet
As sad and weary they plodded by
          Pictures of defeat.
They never knew or seemed to care
          Above the sun was shining;
That green grass slept beneath the snow;
          The song birds soon returning.
Look up, thou sluggish doleful herd
          Lift your heads on high
Tho pain and sorrow infest the world
          God is ever nigh.
Why bow your heart before the world?
          Why to these cares submit?
Tho feet must walk within the dust
          The soul is far above it.

© 1943, Troy McNaught
 This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Branding Day

           Calves are calling
          Cows are bawling
Dust is swirling high.
          Saddles creaking
          Ropes are streaking
To the calf close by.
          Fire is burning
          Calf tries turning
Vaccine guns are nigh.
          Dehorners ready
          Iron held steady
Critter rolls it’s eye.
          Burnt hair sizzles
          Raw hide squizzles
“Hold him tight, there Ted.”
          One horn off
          Two horns off
Blood squirts from it’s head.
          Now some slack
          Give ‘im a smack
The calf leaps up in fright.
          “Watch out, kid!
          Good thing you slid
He sure was on the fight.”
          Sun is boiling
          Men keep toiling
Air is thick with dust.
          Horses sweating
          Kid still betting
“This one you can’t bust.”
          Last one down,
          “Hey you clown
Take the irons out of the fire.”
          Ropes are coiled
          Clothes are soiled
“Boys, you’ve earned your hire.”
© 1943, Troy McNaught
 This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



JANUARY 5, 2016

I can’t believe that calendar—
     It tells me I am old!
That I am ninety nine!
     (Is that why I’m always cold?)

The Good Lord up above
     Has kept me well and strong
And I thank Him for His caring,
     For His protection from all wrong.

Oh, I know I use a walker
     ‘Cause my balance is unstable,
And I take a lot of pills
     When I’m eating at the table.

But, to live that many years—
     It really “blows my mind”!
And, thanks to Slim and Darlene
     Who are so very kind,

I have my own domain
     To do just as I please.
So, here I come one hundred—
     Let’s “do” this year with ease!!

© 2015, Troy McNaught Westby
 This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




100 Years
January 5, 2015

Thank You, Lord, for allowing me
     to reach this age and still be free
     of crippling pains that come with age.

Thank You for a mind still clear;
     that I can write these words down here
     that You see upon this page.

Thank You for family whose loving care
     enables me to still be here.
Thank You for friends who brighten my day
     and ease the burdens along the way.

Thank You for Jesus, Your only Son
     who bore the cross, but the battle won!
     Thank You, thank You, Lord.

© 2016, Troy McNaught Westby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




  Slim McNaught writes about Troy McNaught Westby, continued from above:

The first poem she remembers writing was for an English assignment in the eighth grade. She doesn't remember the poem or how it went, but in it she compared death to crossing a river. That startled her teacher. The earliest poem she still has a copy of ("The Sandhills") was written in 1933 and published in Ranch Romances, a popular western magazine of the time.

Her early poems were of the idealistic typelove, moonlight, and so onthen came those based on every-day events and feelings. Now they are varied, depending on events and her mood.

Her first teaching job was in a one-room country school building on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1941. Students there ranged from first grade through the eighth, with some of the older boys bigger than she was. She rode horseback eight miles to the school on Sunday afternoon, stayed in an area sectioned off with sheets hung on wires for her living quarters, then rode back to the ranch Friday night (or Saturday morning if the weather was bad). That school was across the county line, so I had to go to school in the county in which we lived for the first two years she taught there. The last year she taught there, the State Superintendent of Schools allowed me
to stay with her and go to school there. That was my fourth grade year.

During her years riding to and from that school she had several experiences, but one we always thought
humorous involved one of the horses she rode to that school. On the very cold winter days (and there's no
place colder than the Badlands in winter) she would be bundled up with everything she could put on to keep
warm for the eight mile ride. Of course, mounting a horse with all those wraps on was next to impossible.
But the one old saddle horse had a remedy. He would turn his head and grab her by the rear, giving her the
needed incentive to "get right on."  She had several barbed wire gates to open on her cross country ride,
and that horse would "help" her mount at them all.

The next several years she held the teaching position at a school building that was moved in and located
one-half mile from our ranch. She then moved into Martin, South Dakota in 1956 where she taught the
grades for several years. During that time she furthered her education until eventually she gained a
composite major in Education and a Major in Art. She was then able to teach in both the elementary and
secondary divisions.

In 1960 she started teaching in the Rapid City, South Dakota school system. She taught first grade at
Meadowbrook Elementary two different times and High School Art the last nine years at Old Central High and
West Jr. High.


She retired from teaching in 1978 after thirty seven years in the profession but continued to substitute teach for several years. In 1984 she moved to Mesa, Arizona where she resided until moving to New Underwood, South Dakota in 1997.

From the time I can remember, my mother painted, usually in oil paint; played many different stringed instruments plus piano and accordion; and wrote poetry. In between all this she also fulfilled her duties as a ranch wife when not in school: working cows, fixing fence, riding windmills, and all the other things that needed done. Before I could walk, and until I could get around on my own horse, she hauled me with her in her saddle.

One of my earliest memories of an experience my mother had involved a strawberry roan horse. I can still see the picture in my mind of that horse standing on front feet with hind feet kicked up in the air and my mother airborne with arms and legs straight up and her backside pointed to the ground. Where I was I do not remember. She said
she had me in the saddle with her and that horse bucked us off. We lit in a snow bank, none the worse for wear.

I can barely remember her putting me on a blanket in the shade under a wagon in the hay field while she and my dad and the crew put up hay. That was all done with horses at that time. She would "stay" our old cow dog there to keep things away from me and keep me close to the wagon. It has always amazed me how she figured out ways to take care of me as a youngster and still do her share of the ranch work that needed done.

Since the 1930s she has had many poems and stories published in several western magazines and anthologies. In 1981 she and I co-authored and published a book of our poetry Away Out West. Since that time she has published two more books and currently has another about ready to print. Her second book, Portrait Of Life In Rhyme, contains several styles of poetry written from years ago to the present, including sonnets, haiku, free verse, and others. Her third book, They Say In Rhyme, consists of thirteen paintings with a children's poem for each painting. She intended this book just for her great great grandchildren, but gets requests for copies from
folks who see it.

Away Out West, Portrait of a Life, and They rhyme.
Troy McNaught Westby creates all of her books' illustrations and cover art.

From Troy McNaught Westby's They rhyme. The poems and paintings were inspired by her great great-grandchildren.

Her fourth book will be another filled with paintings and poems for children. She is also working on copy for a fifth book. In addition to that, a grandchild convinced her she should write her memoirs, so she is getting that put together in her spare time. In the last year she has mastered the computer and now has her newest writings stored on flash drives. Not bad for a lady 91 years young and holding.

Troy McNaught Westby with six of her nine great great grandchildren, 2006

Between her writings, keeping up her apartment, driving her car to the local rest home five days a week to keep books and do the banking for the government sponsored meals program, and helping with the bingo games and entertainment in the Good Samaritan nursing home, she stays busy. She also attends cowboy poetry gatherings and leather shows with my wife, Darlene, and me. At this writing she has four grandchildren (my daughter and three sons), seven great grandchildren, and nine great-great grandchildren with a tenth one on the way.

Her motto is: "Stay Well, Keep Busy, Be Happy!"

Five generations of McNaughts, 2006

© 2007, Slim McNaught



An article about Troy McNaught Westby, written by Yvonne Hollenbeck, appears in Range magazine's "Confessions of Red Meat Survivors" section, in the Summer, 2012 issue.

The article tells about her early life and her days as a teacher in a one-room school. The article tells, "That one-room country school was eight miles northwest of the ranch and Troy rode horseback to it on Monday morning and back home on Friday evening..." The colorful article includes a skunk tale, comments on log-house living ("I spent a lot of time mixing mud from the buffalo wallows and chinking the openings between the logs...") and more about Troy's life and her writing.

Special thanks to  Slim McNaught for his assistance with this feature.



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