Santa Claus in the Bush
It chanced out back at the Christmas time,
When the wheat was ripe and tall,
A stranger rode to the farmer's gate --
A sturdy man and a small.
"Rin doon, rin doon, my little son Jack,
And bid the stranger stay;
And we'll hae a crack for Auld Lang Syne,
For the morn is Christmas Day."
"Nay noo, nay noo," said the dour guidwife,
"But ye should let him be;
He's maybe only a drover chap
Frae the land o' the Darling Pea.
"Wi' a drover's tales, and a drover's thirst
To swiggle the hail nicht through;
Or he's maybe a life assurance carle
To talk ye black and blue,"
"Guidwife, he's never a drover chap,
For their swags are neat and thin;
And he's never a life assurance carle,
Wi' the brick-dust burnt in his skin.
"Guidwife, guidwife, be nae sae dour,
For the wheat stands ripe and tall,
And we shore a seven-pound fleece this year,
Ewes and weaners and all.
"There is grass tae spare, and the stock are fat.
Where they whiles are gaunt and thin,
And we owe a tithe to the travelling poor,
So we maun ask him in.
"Ye can set him a chair tae the table side,
And gi' him a bite tae eat;
An omelette made of a new-laid egg,
Or a tasty bit of meat."
"But the native cats have taen the fowls,
They havena left a leg;
And he'll get nae omelette at a'
Till the emu lays an egg!"
"Rin doon, rin doon, my little son Jack,
To whaur the emus bide,
Ye shall find the auld hen on the nest,
While the auld cock sits beside.
"But speak them fair, and speak them saft,
Lest they kick ye a fearsome jolt.
Ye can gi' them a feed of thae half-inch nails
Or a rusty carriage bolt."
So little son Jack ran blithely down
With the rusty nails in hand,
Till he came where the emus fluffed and scratched
By their nest in the open sand.
And there he has gathered the new-laid egg --
'Twould feed three men or four --
And the emus came for the half-inch nails
Right up to the settler's door.
"A waste o' food," said the dour guidwife,
As she took the egg, with a frown,
"But he gets nae meat, unless ye rin
A paddy-melon down."
"Gang oot, gang oot, my little son Jack,
Wi' your twa-three doggies sma';
Gin ye come nae back wi' a paddy-melon,
Then come nae back at a'."
So little son Jack he raced and he ran,
And he was bare o' the feet,
And soon he captured a paddy-melon,
Was gorged with the stolen wheat.
"Sit doon, sit doon, my bonny wee man,
To the best that the hoose can do --
An omelette made of the emu egg
And a paddy-melon stew."
"'Tis well, 'tis well," said the bonny wee man;
"I have eaten the wide world's meat,
And the food that is given with right good-will
Is the sweetest food to eat.
"But the night draws on to the Christmas Day
And I must rise and go,
For I have a mighty way to ride
To the land of the Esquimaux.
"And it's there I must load my sledges up,
With the reindeers four-in-hand,
That go to the North, South, East, and West,
To every Christian land."
"Tae the Esquimaux," said the dour guidwife,
"Ye suit my husband well!"
For when he gets up on his journey horse
He's a bit of a liar himsel'."
Then out with a laugh went the bonny wee man
To his old horse grazing nigh,
And away like a meteor flash they went
Far off to the Northern sky.
When the children woke on the Christmas morn
They chattered with might and main --
For a sword and gun had little son Jack,
And a braw new doll had Jane,
And a packet o' screws had the twa emus;
But the dour guidwife gat nane.
by A. B Banjo Paterson, 1906
Australian A. B. (Andrew Barton) "Banjo" Paterson (1864-1941) wrote “The Man from Snowy River,” “Waltzing Matilda,” and many other well known and well loved poems. You can read a selection of poems here in our feature about "Banjo" Paterson.
Christmas Gift -- A Sack of Dreams
Hilda didn't need no extra paddin'
To play ole' Santy Clause's part.
She also had 'nough Christmas Spirit
In every corner of her heart.
She slipped into her favorite unders
The red ones, without no darnin'.
She buttoned up, checked the flaps,
It was gettin' closer to the marnin'.
She giggled silently to herself
As she imagined all their faces
When they woke and found a gift
Put in each one of their places.
The trail hands oft' remarked as how
As kids ole' Santy come
And left an orange, trinket, toy
And some of the new fan-dangled gum.
They was beginnin' to lose that Christmas Spirit
As age and years would go.
Hilda saw how eyes would twinkle
As they talked of those days so.
Fer weeks she quizzed each cowboy
'Bout what they remembered best
'Bouth their Christmas as a kid
Before bein' a cowboy way out West.
They told of candles on the trees
Of stockin's filled with toys
Made with care by lovin' hands
From Santa, to them boys!
She knew each hand and what he missed
As Christmas come each year.
She was bent on fillin' those dreams
For the meanin' of Christmas time was clear.
She donned her hat, climbed in her boots,
Tied the horse bells 'round her waist.
Her long-johns, red, made quite a sight
As she left her bunk in haste.
The sack of dreams tossed 'cross her back;
She bounced on past the corral.
What she carried didn't cost her much
But, she hoped it would boost morale.
The cowboys heard them bells a' comin'!
The bunk house door flung wide!
They couldn't believe what they was seein'.
But they asked ole' Santy inside!
"Ho, Ho, Ho and Merry Christmas,"
Santy sang to one and all.
"Have you cowboys been good little boys?"
Was this rounded Santy's call.
"Charlie here's some chaw fer you,
Red Dawg, yer favorite kind!
Slim Jim, you wanted peppermint stix,
And Tubby in your pack, Christmas candles you will find.
"Henry, Harley, the twins from Virginnie!
Here's a letter from yer ma!
Edgar Potts, in my bag for you
Some charcoal, so's you can draw."
So, Santy went from hand to hand
And gave all that was in the sack.
The pouch was empty, Santy turned
And hustled back over to her shack.
She heard the laughter, felt the joy
These gifts brought to this night.
Then a commotion came to her door
And twenty men clamored into the light.
"Hilda, did you see old Santy Clause?!
He found us ALL this year!
He brought us all we'd been hopin' for!"
The twins' eyes each held a tear!
They didn't even know that it was her
Decked out in long-johns, red!
'Cause the Christmas Spirit now filled THEIR hearts!
"Yeh, I saw him," Hilda said.
"What did Sandy bring you
Just what did YOU receive?"
"Oh, he granted all the prayers I had!
He made sure you all still believed
"In Christmas time; what it holds
And that dreams do still come true.
The best darn gift that I received
Was seein' that Christmas Spirit come back to you!"
Them cowboys will all remember
The Christmas spirit brought that night
By a special rounded Santy's elf
Standing six foot four in height.
© 1998, Brenda "Sam" DeLeeuw
reprinted with permission from Hilda and Her Friends
A Rancher's Wife's Christmas
Being a rancher's wife at Christmas time
Is not what it's cracked up to be.
The presents they receive from husbands
Do NOT fill them with joy or glee.
A brand new pair of fencin' pliers,
Even tho' wrapped in festive red,
Is not what this man promised me
On that day that we were wed~
But, next to them, a box of gloves.
Now, this may be exciting!
Until I see they're preg check gloves!
A WIFE REBELLION he's inciting!
Then comes a softer package
Wrapped up in denim blue.
A feedbag! For my Christmas dinner?
And sour medicine, for when I'm through!
This man is just too good to me!
As my gifts continue ten fold.
The next box yields a dozen tubes
Of WORM medicine! My breath I hold!
But now, the pas de resistance
Is when I'm drug to see outside,
MY sparklin' new manure spreader
Upon which I'm allowed to ride!
But he's not done and he's so proud
As he smirks and thinks he's so cute!!
He jerks back the burlap cover
Of MY hydraulic branding chute!
Well, what else could a woman ask for
On a wonderful Christmas morn?!
Maybe some color coded ear tags,
Her earlobes they might adorn!
But whatever gift her husband gives
A Rancher's Wife will only smile
And sweetly say that it was THE gift
She had wanted for quite some while.
© 2002, Brenda "Sam" DeLeeuw
You can read more of Lariat Laureate runner up Sam DeLeeuw's poetry here at the BAR-D. Sam is a frequent featured performer at gatherings across the West and is President of the Cowboy Poets of Utah.
Now as to Hilda....
Hilda the trail drive cook
Six foot four and three hundred pounds
Weathered and toothless, what a look
Stonger than redrock, cactus or cows...
You can read more about her in Sam's book, Hilda and Her Friends:
Letter to Santa
From Cowboys and Cowgirls,
Now That Roy And Gene Have Left The Range
Please Find Them In Your Book.
We'd Like To Send A Christmas Thanks
But Don't Know Where To Look.
And If By Chance You Spot Them,
When You Find Out Where They Roam
Tell them Thanks From All of us
From Here To San Antone
Tell them Thanks For All Those Picture Shows
And all those cowboy Songs.
We were Little Buckaroo's Back Then
But You Taught Us Right From Wrong.
We Learned To Say Please An Thank You,
And Say It With A Smile.
We Learned To Help Those That Need It Most
And Ride That Extra Mile.
You Made Us Proud To Be A Cowboy
When You Stood Up To The Test.
Thanks For All Those Happy Trails,
When You Rode Out In The West.
Letter From Santa
Roy And Gene Are Riding High Range;
It's Just Around The Bend.
They're Helping out at Christmas here
There Is So Much To Send.
Roy Is Tending Reindeer
And Put'n Um All To Bed.
Gene Is Wrapping Christmas Toys
And Shining Up The Sled.
Trigger And Champion Are In The Ol Corral
There Just Raring There To Go.
They Can't Wait To Hit The Trail
To Play In All That Snow.
Now Ol Santa's Never Missed A Christmas,
Even On The Range Above.
I'll Tell Them Thanks From all The Buckaroos
And I'll Give Them Both A Hug.
© 2000 R. L. Brinegar
Ron Brinegar is a frequent performer at gatherings, and you can read more of his poetry here at the BAR-D.
A Four-Year-Old's Christmas Truth
My cousin Butch told me yesterday
There ain't any Santy Claus;
He laughed and said it's only Grampa.
I know that ain't true because,
On Christmas Eve when I'm in my bed
Just before I fall asleep,
I hear reindeer paws up on our house,
Right where the roof is real steep!
If they wasn't magic, they'd fall off
An' crash right by my window.
An' Christmas Day when I got up, I'd
See a sleigh wrecked in the snow!
There wouldn't be oranges for me to
Find in the toe of my sock.
No new dress for my birthday doll or
Peppermints hard as a rock.
The star wouldn't be up on the tree,
No tiny Baby asleep.
No Mary in blue with her Joseph,
No sheep herders with their sheep.
One more reason I'm goin' to be
Tellin' 'Ol Santy thank you.
I just asked my own Mama and Pa,
And they both told me it's true!
(So there, Butch!)
© 11-29-02, Byrd Woodward
Byrd Woodward is a frequent performer at gatherings, and you can read more of her poetry here at the BAR-D.
A "Little Cowboy" Conversation
I overheard two cowboys talkin' down at Lil's Cafe.
I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but I could hear them plain as day.
I had seen them park their ponies out by the paper stand.
They drifted in with muddy boots like any other man.
One said, "I know there is a Santa.I know he comes for sure.
I heard some talk a few years back about... reindeer manure."
" 'Course, I never saw it for myself, but it was up on some folks roofs.
They say they found it Christmas mornin', after hearin' tiny hooves."
His partner pushed back his cowboy hat and poked a french fry in his mouth.
"I jutht don't undethtand," He said," how they can land on top a houth."
"Oh, its easy," Said the first cowboy, "Santa knows just what to do.
I bet he uses gees and haws and sets them reindeer down in twos."
"Did ya ever hear 'im comin', or see 'im way up high?"
"Yeth I did!" The other answers," and he wath flyin' through the thky!"
After a couple bites of burger and several sips of Coke,
One said, somewhat bewildered, he had heard that Santa was a joke...
"He ith not! Don't tell me that. He alwayth bringth me thtuff!
Hith little elvth work tho hard tho there will be enough!"
"Thath how I got my puppy and my ropin' horth, ole Athe."
It was hard to take him serious with all that ketchup on his face.
"We better git along." One said,"We still got chores to do.
We gotta bring them doggies in. It's up to me and you."
They paid me from their pockets, bills damp and in a wad.
They said a po-lite "thank you" with a hat-tip and a nod.
Headin' for the door one said,
"About that Santa thing,we better be believin' hard,
before it gets too late.
'cuz by next year you"ll be seven years old,
And I'll be turnin' eight!"
© November 2002, Janice Gilbertson
You can read more of Janice Gilbertson's poetry here at the BAR-D.
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