Top Ranch Pen Posts Of 2014–#4

The fourth most viewed post of 2014 is actually one from the spring of last year entitled, More Cowboy Poetry And Growing Vegetables For Slaughter In SW Oklahoma. I’m not sure who all views the post. Cowboy poetry fans? The accidental viewer? Vegetable rights people? Regardless, I hope y’all enjoy cowboy poet, Baxter Black reciting his poem, The Vegetarian’s Nightmare, on the old Johnny Carson Show.


Shumway Seed Catalog

Lately, I’ve been thinking about planting my garden. (I like R H Shumway, by the way. Not only because they always have a good catalog cover, but their seeds are good, too.) Usually in February we can start planting taters and onions here in southwest Oklahoma.

But thoughts of vegetables made me remember a funny poem Baxter Black (one of my favorite cowboy poets) wrote years ago. Here he is doing The Vegetarian’s Nightmare on the Johnny Carson Show.

Don’t get too attached to your carrot’s feathery tops!


Until next time, God Bless all y’all and enjoy one of my favorite Christmas songs, Little Drummer Boy, sung beautifully by Pentatonix.

*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like ’em.


Cowboy Poetry At The Ranch Pen

I’m away from the Ranch Pen, but in observation of National Poetry Month, I’ll share this poem from Joe Kreger, one of my favorite Okie cowboy poets.
(The poem Bucklin’ Up by Joe Kreger was posted on the High Plains Journal’s website.)

Bucklin’ Up

By Joe Kreger

It’s always a reminder
’bout the weight you need to lose
when you bend over in the mornin’
to buckle your overshoes.

This feat is usually accomplished
‘midst groans and grunts and sighs.
You get kinda short of oxygen.
Spots flash before your eyes.

I enjoy cakin’ cattle.
I don’t mind feedin’ hay.
But, bucklin up my overshoes
is the worst job of the day.

I didn’t used to mind it,
back when I was fit as a fiddle.
But, now I don’t bend quite as good,
especially around the middle.

‘Cause it seems that when my belly
gets shoved up about three rungs,
I run short of capacity
to operate my lungs.

Once in a while, I can get it done,
but it’s becomin’ kinda rare
that I get a boot plumb buckled up
without comin’ up for air.

I got to do something about it.
Can’t put up with it any more.
Guess I’ll trade my five buckle boots
for some that’s just got four.

Editor’s note: Joe Kreger writes from his home in Tonkawa, Oklahoma. His CDs are available from the Journal by calling 1-800-954-5263.

Cowboy Poetry At The Ranch Pen

My little buddy, Ladybug

My little buddy, Ladybug

This week, I have the two-year-old grand daughter, Ladybug, with me. There is a very good reason most middle-aged women who have two-year-olds on a full time basis don’t blog. In recognition of that, today I’ll just share a piece of poetry featured in the High Plains Journal by my favorite Okie cowboy poet, Joe Kreger. Enjoy.

Ag News

By Joe Kreger

Sometimes I get more ‘n enough
people and the telephone,
and to get things back on an even keel.
I’ve got to get alone.

Now, I’m not antisocial
or given to swings of mood,
but if l’m gonna keep thinkin’ straight.
I need a little solitude.

I can get it walkin’ or drivin’,
but it’s best out on the horse.
It’s amazin’ what time alone will do,
to change a tough day’s course.

I like to go down to the pasture
and watch the cattle graze and drink.
Sometimes I put my mind in neutral
but I usually go there to think.

Time alone doesn’t make me lonesome,
and I never do get bored.
It’s always the best way for me
to talk things over with the Lord.

I thank God for valued customers
and the treasure of good friends,
but solitude can be that needed gift
that the Good Lord sends.

I believe I’m better with people
after a solitary ride.
‘cause I always come back with peace of mind,
and I’m all healed up inside.

I won’t forget what a wise man told me,
I knew it’s not a myth.
“When you’re travelin’ by yourself,
you always know who you’re with.”

Editor’s note: Joe Kreger writes from his home in Tonkawa, Oklahoma. His CDs are available from the Journal by calling 1-800-954-5263. 

Enjoying Cowboy Poetry At The Ranch Pen



This is an Australian Shepherd pup with a “glass eye” like the one in Joe Kreger’s poem below

I’m off on an excellent adventure with Gramps for a few days, so I’ll borrow a page from the High Plains Journal and share a poem from one of my favorite cowboy poets, Joe Kreger. He’s an Okie rancher and his poetry is as real as it gets. Some of his poems make me cry, including the one below about his dog. Enjoy.

Old Blue

By Joe Kreger

Though a lifetime allotment is one good dog, I’ve already had quite a few.

But, one stands high above the rest, our faithful friend, Old Blue.


Old Blue was kinda pretty. He was spotted like a leopard,

one glass eye, and bob-tailed, a classic Australian Shepherd.


We got Blue when he was five, trained good, and all grown up.

He was our only good dog that we didn’t raise from a pup.


Blue came from the Osage nation where he worked for a cowboy crew.

Anything a heel dog can do with a cow, Old Blue was able to do.


When we first met him, he was lookin’ sad, tied up to tree.

But, right off the bat, I took up with him, and he took up with me.


He also took right up with Pat and Dessa and Sarah Jane.

He even loved our little rug rat, the one we called Joe Bayne.


Blue was always a gentlemen, and Old Blue was awful smart,

but you didn’t want to scold him hard, ’cause he had a tender heart.


If you ever talked too rough to Blue, he closed his eyes and dropped his ears.

To think he hadn’t pleased you was among his greatest fears.


But, as well as he liked the family life, he had a greater joy,

and that was his life’s profession; Blue was a top cowboy.


Even when he was aged, he spun and frolicked like a pup

everytime I caught the horse and began to saddle up.


When we were makin’ a gather, there was somethin’ special ’bout Blue.

He fell right in and did his part without bein’ told what to do.


Another thing that must be said on Old Blue’s behalf,

He’d eat the heels off the meanest bull, but wouldn’t nip a baby calf.


And some of the hands I neighbored with, who didn’t like dogs along,

changed their minds when they saw ‘im work. Then, he could do no wrong.


Blue went through life doin’ his job in almost perfect form,

except for one bad vice he had, a fear of thunderstorms.


For, every time the lightening cracked and the thunder stared to roll,

if there wasn’t already one around, then Blue would make a hole.


Blue just kinda lost it when a storm would start to roar.

He’d go through a plate glass window, or he’d tear right through a door.


Blue lived to be an old dog, givin’ his best to his life’s work.

He finally got stiff and crippled up, but, still, he wouldn’t shirk.


Blue played his last role out in style; he became a cowdog professor,

and he then trained young heeler hank to be his own successor.


His last few months were filled with pain, which wasn’t fair to Blue,

but I just kept procrastinating about what I ought to do.


I finally got my courage up, but waited for a pretty day.

Then called the vet out to help Blue on his way.


I put him on the pickup bed where he always loved to ride.

We gave Old Blue an easy trip on to the Other Side.


His body lies ‘neath a sand hill where he used to gather cattle,

but his spirit still goes with me everytime I’m in the saddle.


Editor’s note: Joe Kreger writes from his home in Tonkawa, Oklahoma. His  CDs are available from the Journal by calling 1-800-954-5263.

New Arrivals At The Ranch Pen In Southwest Oklahoma

Border Collie Pup


Our long awited puppy has finally come to live on the home place. We changed her name to Nellie to avoid confusing her with a close family member. According to her breeder, Shawna, Nellie’s a mixture of border collie, scotch collie, and Austrailian shepherd. Choosing her from the other girls in the litter was hard because…well…I wanted them all. In the end, Nellie came to live with Gramps and me because she has already begun to show some interest in livestock–which is what we need, as well as a pet.

As I’ve mentioned before, Baxter Black is one of my favorite cowboy poets and story tellers and having a pup on the place again reminds me of this tale about an ol’ ranch gal, her dentures, her pup, and some missionaries.


I’m so happy I don’t have dentures, yet, although I do have a story about two missionaries who startled me and another of our dogs in the backyard one time and all three of us ladies ended up shrieking and flapping around like a bunch of old hens.

Daughter-in-law #2 and I had an adventure getting her pup and mine home–part of which entailed barf in my lap and barf in daughter-in-law’s purse–but we made it and Nellie has settled into her job as the ranch hound, happily snoozing, shredding, digging, chewing, chasing, slopping, and dripping. Gramps and I are extrememly happy to have her.

Mama cat and New Kittens

The other new arrivals

And Paisley–formerly the extrememly expectant and miserable barn cat–finally presented six kitties. (Blondie, the granddaughter, says Paisley popped the kitties out. Her mother winces every time she says it. I don’t know why.) But, well done, Paisley!

God bless all y’all and enjoy Buddy Greene and Jeff Taylor doin’ Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.


*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like ‘em.

Old But Related Posts

Cowboy Poetry and Cullin’ the Ol’ Darlin’s

More Cowboy Poetry and Growing Vegetables For Slaughter In SW Oklahoma

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More Cowboy Poetry And Growing Vegetables For Slaughter In SW Oklahoma

Shumway Seed Catalog

Lately, I’ve been thinking about planting my garden. (I like R H Shumway, by the way. Not only because they always have a good catalog cover, but their seeds are good, too.) Usually in February we can start planting taters and onions here in southwest Oklahoma.

But thoughts of vegetables made me remember a funny poem Baxter Black (one of my favorite cowboy poets) wrote years ago. Here he is doing The Vegetarian’s Nightmare on the Johnny Carson Show.

Don’t get too attached to your carrot’s feathery tops!

God Bless all y’all and enjoy Blue Highway doing What Wondrous Love Is This.

*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like ’em.

Sunset In A Southwest Oklahoma Cowpasture

Sunset in a SW Oklahoma Cow Pasture

Oklahoma sunset from the cow pasture.

Enjoy one of your favorite views on your birthday, Gramps!

And this poem is for you, although I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to saddle your Arctic Cat. Have you?

Enjoy Cold Morning courtesy of High Plains Journal and a great cowboy poet and fellow Oklahoman, Joe Kreger.

Cold Morning

By Joe Kreger

It’s daylight now; snow fell last night. Then, the wind came up and blew it. You’ve already got your coftee drank, so it’s time to go and do it.

Twenty years ago, it was easier to get started in the morning. But age is a lot like snow storms. It hits you without warning.

Gettin’ older is plumb natural. It’s not like some disease. But, you really start to notice when it’s only three degrees.

I remember when my winter gear was a jacket and wool shirt. Now it takes about seven layers to keep out winter’s hurt.

Well, I’ll let the sun get higher. Believe I’ll drink another cup. Sure hope nothin’ happens to make me saddle up.

Hope there ain’t no cattle out. I’m not wantin’ to mount my steed. It won’t be so bad, if all I do is just chop ice and feed.

Sure hope no calves are sick today, and no cows are needin’ treated. I’d like to do my ridin’ in a pickup that is heated.

I could use a little winter help, but I’m glad that there’s no witness to observe this old hand a workin’ in his present physical fitness.

‘Cause when I’m totin’ buckets or choppin’ ice in the snow, I pause in my exertion by raisin’ up to blow.

There’s just somethin’ about workin out in the snow and cold that makes your wind come harder, and you start a feelin’ old.

And cowboyin’ loses its luster when the gates are all froze shut, or when you’re stabbin’ for a stirrup and you slip and fall on your butt.

I know you do what you gotta do, regardless of the weather, but winter dang sure ain’t my choice when it comes to poppin’ leather.

Joe Kreger writes from his home in Tonkawa, Oklahoma. His books and CDs are available from the Journal by calling 1-800-954-5263.

Y’all have a good weekend. God bless, and enjoy Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver doing Beyond the Sunset For Me


Cowboy Poetry and Culling the Ol’ Darlin’s in Southwest Oklahoma


An Old Darlin’ as depicted by the great cowboy cartoonist, Ace Reid

The drought has forced most of us Oklahoma cow people to cull our herds more effectively simply because we don’t have the feed–and in many cases, the water–to run retirement homes for our old darlin’s.

Now, this is a sad situation. A lot of our old cows–and horses–are like family to us. I think I’ll write a poem right now in memorium.

Ode to the Cull Cow by Danni McGriffith

Old Darlin’ it’s time for you to go,

before the snow.

Get off my toe–(No…)

I’ll need a tow,

or we can’t go–

Oh, boogers.

I guess I’m no poet, but I love cowboy poets, so I think I’ll–

“What’s that, Gramps? No, I didn’t either say cowboy poets. I said cowboy poetry. Now, where was I…?”

Oh, yes. I love cowboy poets poetry, especially Baxter Black’s.

I’ve included the audio clip here entitled “One More Year“. (It’s from an old cassette tape, Baxter Black Live. The sound quality isn’t great, but it’s worth the time to listen. Takes a second or two to load.)

*He uses a couple of words some may find offensive.

One More Year by Baxter Black–Quick Time Player

Bear in mind the purpose of a ranch cow is to produce calves. When she doesn’t produce calves anymore, she turns into a money suck, possibly with the personality pictured below.

Snarling wolf

Since this blog is supposed to be kinda extremely educational  to those who would like to know what goes on out here where your food is produced, I paraphrased Baxter Black’s words in order to explain the conversation between the eager young vet and the rancher. (My comments are in parenthesis.)

One More Year by Baxter Black

“Rancher: ‘What’s the story on that good old cow?’ the bowlegged cowboy asks.

Young vet: Well, she’s sorta gimpy on the left hind leg and her breathin’s kinda fast.”

(Cows get gimpy for the same reasons people do–old age, disease, injury, etc. She might be breathing fast from disease or old age, too…Not good, whatever’s causing it)

“Rancher: Shucks…(sniffs) I ‘member when she was borned….It wasn’t that long ago.
Young Vet: Well, somebody bobbed her tail last year, but $&@! I guess you’d oughta know.”

(Ranchers bob a few inches off a cow’s tail to mark her in the herd as a cull. If her tale was bobbed last year, she should have been culled from the herd then.)

“Rancher: You bet your life I know that cow. (Sniffs) She’s as good a one as I’ve saw.
Young Vet: Well, I just thought since she was gettin’ thin and got a big lump on her jaw…”

(Cows lose their teeth as they age. As a result they are unable to chew their food well and they get thin. A lump on her jaw could be caused from a burr or something of the sort lodged in the soft tissue under her tongue, creating an abcess)

Rancher: ‘That ain’t nothin…Just a little knot,’ the bowlegged cowboy said.

Young Vet: Yeah, but one eye’s blue, and she orphaned her calf, and she ain’t got a tooth in her head…”

(A milky, blue colored eye can be caused from an eye disease called pink-eye which sometimes leaves the cow blind in that eye. The cow wouldn’t take care of her calf, leaving it orphaned for the rancher to bottle feed. A giant pain in the neck and not cost effective. She doesn’t have teeth because they’ve all fallen out)

“Rancher: Listen kid. I ‘member that cow. I even milked her for a while!”

(There are a number of reasons the rancher might milk a range cow–her calf was too weak to nurse, or possibly he had an orphaned calf from another cow that needed milk, or maybe the family’s milk cow dried up and he needed the milk at the house for his kids.)

“Young Vet: Sure, but she’s got a swingin bag, and one big ***, and skin like a crocodile!”

(Swingin’ udders are caused by old age and gravity, and yes, we call ’em ***s and hers might be big because she stepped on it and injured it. At any rate, a calf can’t nurse it well–or at all–sometimes. Her skin may resemble a crocodile’s because of warts, or ringworm, or mange…any number of skin disorders)

 Rancher: (Getting all choked up) Kid you gotta admit she knows the range, and ever’ water hole.”

(She knows the range and the water holes because she’s been out there so long–like the rancher)

 Young Vet: Well, I hate to tell ya she’s open now and these prolapse stitches won’t hold.”

(When a cow doesn’t ‘breed back’, she’s called open. At some point in her career, her uterus has come out–she’s prolapsed–and a vet has shoved it back in and made some sutures to hold it in place. The prolapse will reappear next time she has a calf)

Rancher: Well, she’s nothin to me, don’t get me wrong. I know she’s gettin old.
Young Vet: Well, you’re the boss and if you wanna keep her whatever you say goes. But if it was me, I’d cull her fast and never shed a tear.”

(But, because some of our old darlin’s have a special place in our crusty old hearts, we park ’em out behind the house on their own retirement plot–and so does the bowlegged cowboy)

“Rancher: Well…I got a little grass out behind the house. Let’s run her another year…”

So What Do Y’all Think?

  • Do you have any ol’ darlin’s out behind the house? Horses qualify.
  • Is Baxter Black awesome, or what?
  • Oh, all right, I’ll ask–Did I really say I loved cowboy poets, or does Gramps have hair in his ears?

Answer these pressing questions below and until next time, God bless, and thank you to this guy for posting Alison Kraus andRobert Plant doing Your Long Journey, a moving tribute to another kind of old darlin’s.