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My First Drive

Words of the Cowboy Code
March 16, 2021
The Fencin’ Crew
March 30, 2021

My First Drive

Late spring we started out
From south of San Antone
At sixteen I was short on years
But I was sure ’nuff man grown

We were drivin' the Western Trail
The Chisholm having been closed
Some didn’t want their Shorthorns
To our Longhorns bein’ exposed

There were near two thousand head
Of our cattle a'pushin’ north
Hopin’ to make the railhead to
Celebrate freedom on July fourth

This was my first cattle drive
Reckon my inexperience showed
But I determined to pack my freight
Showin' ‘em I could handle my load

The long days ran all together
Separated only by dark and light
Eatin’ dust at drag under scorchin’ sun
Or nighthawkin’ in cold rain all night

There were three other first-timers
Out of the dozen or so of us riders
We come to be mighty close friends
Reckon it was natural bein’ outsiders

They were green and youthful like me
Though all three had 'em more years
With new pals Luke, Eli and Yancy
Nine weeks I punched cows and steers

Eli ran the whole bronc camp
Wranglin’ the remuda was his role
He sure 'nuff had his hands full when
Findin’ one of the mares in foal

The herd stayed east of the Nueces
Followin’ a cow with a motley-faced head
Fordin’ the Colorado and Brazos was easy
But big trouble found us at the Red

The stampede seemed to last hours
Though I’m guessin’ it weren’t even one
I got horned by a wild eyed steer
An inch closer and I’d’a been done

There were other anxious moments
On the long trail to Dodge City
But it seemed a mite easier now that
During the stampede I'd proven gritty

Of'a night Yancy’d pick up his guitar
And strum a few chords round the fire
Fine song words would flow on out
In a voice we’d all come to admire

When passin' through The Territory
Buncha' rustlers tried to cut our herd
Turned out to be a lot of gunplay
Luke kilt one with a draw that blurred

We reached the railhead at Dodge City
It was on Sunday the third of July
When the trail boss said, “Cut loose”
On that day not one of us boys was shy

We four pals pooled some money
After gettin' ourselves all spiffed
To get a group photograph taken
Before back to Texas we'd drift

Photos in hand we said our byes
Promisin’ to keep in touch
Knowin’ we wouldn't owing to
Life gettin’ in the way an such

Of my very first cattle drive
Got my black and white reminder
Kept safe with other drive treasures
Preserved in my cowboy-life binder

By, Rik Goodell

© 2021

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