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The Fencin’ Crew

My First Drive
March 22, 2021
Moose Ropin’
April 6, 2021

My writing, all too often, has a man as the central character. Being a man, my perspective and experiences are, naturally, from a man's viewpoint but I do not want to exclude women. When I found this wonderful painting, I was excited by the story of the three lives displayed and leapt at the opportunity to write a poem about the fairer half of this world's population.



The Fencin’ Crew

Jenny grew up workin’ cattle
She could do most jobs on the spread
Cuttin’, brandin’ or mendin’ tack
Even once put a roof on a shed


She was fourth generation Montana
Growin’ up along the Powder
The family ranch outside Miles City
Of which they couldn’t be prouder


Like a lot of young women
She had a hankerin’ to test see
Could she earn her keep a hirin' out?
Just how good a cowhand was she?


So she struck out on her own
Promising family to come back
Once she'd made her mark
And cinched she had the knack


She headed west with her pickup and trailer
Towin’ “Brownie” her bay mare
Ridin’ shotgun was her Aussie, “Missy”
Three ladies on a wing and a prayer


She stopped at ranches huntin’ work
But they kept turning her away
Not understanding how a girl
Could ever earn a cowboy’s pay


Third day out on the road
Near the little town of Roundup
A foreman who was shorthanded
Offered a job, callin’ her, "Buttercup"


He asked if she knew ‘bout fencin’
She sighed sayin’, “Of course.
I can do most any ranch job
Not only those done from a horse”


I won’t charge you any extra
For my shepherd or my bay
She promised with a grin
Slowly the boss smiled, “okay”


The ladies worked from sunup to down
All summer and the cold winter rough
Earnin’ respect from the rest of the crew
Who'd thought pretty equaled cream puff


Jenny set up house in her trailer
To ease the bunkin’ situation
She earned her final acceptance
When workin’ hard at spring castration


She repaired a lot of fence
Stretchin’ new wire or tyin’ old
Some nights when far from headquarters
The three just slept out in the cold


After ridin’ fence more’n a year
Without regard to season
Jenny figured it was about time
Calculatin’ she had fair reason


She’d shown herself cowhand savvy
Provin’ her sand along the Musselshell
She up and asked the foreman
Was there a job workin’ horseback a spell?


He said there weren’t no openings
Besides he laughin’ decreed
You three gals are just the finest
Fencin’ crew I ever have see’d


Well I guess it’s adios then
Don’t mean to appear all flitty
But we’re goin’ back home to the Powder
I can work horseback over east of Miles City


A year later her beau on a knee
Asked, proposin' for her hand
She loved him so she said, "Yep,
S’long as you only ride for our brand"


By, Rik Goodell

© 2021


This poem was inspired by an oil painting
"The Fencing Crew" by David Graham


David was born in Miles City, Montana during the time his family was operating a ranch in the Powder River area east of Miles City.

To see more of his work, go to his website:


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