parallax background

Wanna’ Cowboy Do Ya’?

Filly Catchin’
February 28, 2023
Grudge Carryin’ Don’t Pay
March 8, 2023

Wanna' Cowboy Do Ya'?

So you wanna' be a cowboy eh son?
Why in blazes would you want to do that?
Do you really understand the whole job?
It’s not so simple as spurs, boots and hat

There's some of the git go to cowboyin'
Might shed light so it seems you ought’a know
As told by my great grandfather and gramps
Who passed it on to Dad and me years ago

We were all born to this land
And it's the land that keeps us free
I'm guessin' you'll respect cowboyin' more
By understandin' some of the history

'Course I'm speakin’ of the cattle drives
That began after the war between the states
They lasted 'bout twenty-five years
Maybe a few either side of those dates

Occasionally them Hollywood movies
Will show it so's it's just about right
But they tend to leave out treacherous details
Of the relentless work and the lonely fight

See, the east was hungry for beef
In Texas there just happened to be
Wild cattle ready for the gatherin' since
Thousands had bred while runnin' free

But there was ol' Miss, cities and fences
Blockin' the ways if driven east
So the initial answer was the railheads
From Kansas they'd ship live beef

The first real trail was the Chisholm
Pointin' the way north up to Abilene
With half of Texas and Indian Territory
Menacing the hard trail in-between

Pushin’ a couple thousand horns north
Was toil of the hardest, most dangerous kind
A dozen men might spend three months or so
For a hundred bucks and adventure they’d find

These young men were of a varied lot
White and black and Mexican too
Many runnin' from broke poverty
Or a lost love that hadn't come true

Drives began in early spring
Water and grass were best that season
Stampedes would sometimes happen
Without obvious or apparent reason

Crossin' the many rivers without bridges
Was, along with a terrifying stampede,
How some of the drovers were killed
In this perilous way to proceed

The other looming form of cowboy of death
Came by separation from his saddle
A foot stirrup-hung or gettin’ cattle stomped
Put him up that, ya know, creek without a paddle.

The cowboys got three meals a day
Camp Cooky's job was to keep 'em strong
So they could work hard long hours
Oftentimes half the night long

Things ain’t much different round here today
Oh we don’t push them horns far anymore
But the calling is still purty much the same
So we honor and respect those that came before

The paycheck never has amounted to much
Ain’t none of us gonna get rich
But there is one thing you can take to the bank
After cowboyin’ fifty years, I’d never switch

Too bad emotions cain’t say it themselves
Cuz it’s a life hard to reveal by speakin’
But here’s what I ain’t ashamed to confess
When I recollect it all my eyes go to leakin’

It’s about horseflesh and ornery critters
Busted knuckles, sunrises and clean air
It’s about pards havin’ yer back without fail
Youngster, it’s a fine life without compare

So if I ain’t talked the want-to out of ya
If you think you’ve really got the gut
Stash your gear under an empty bunk
We’ll know in a week if you’re makin’ the cut

We eat chow round here while still dark
Meet me back here at five AM on the dot
Bring all your grit tucked under your hat
You’re gonna need it to see what you’ve got

by Rik Goodell

© 2023. All rights reserved

I am grateful for the generosity of Raymond Wattenhofer in allowing me to post a copy of this painting alongside my work. See more of this artist's work at:

error: Alert: Content is protected !!