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.

Shakespeare and the Drought Map

And…I see all y’all out there scratching your heads and going, “Eh? What in the world has Shakespeare got to do with the drought, or really anything at all? The dude’s been dead for, like, a million years.”

Well, let’s get to it.

ShakespeareSonnet 29

When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon myself and curse my fate,

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featured like him, like him with friends possess’d, Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope, With what I most enjoy contented least.

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee, and then my state, Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;

For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

–William Shakespeare

Yes, we are in the dark red area

Yes, we are in the dark red area

The drought map above paints a pretty good picture of our weather situation these past few years. Probably all us farmers and ranchers in the dark red areas have, at times, felt as though we were troubling a deaf heaven with our bootless cries. But then, when we look around and see how we’re blessed, we remember heaven’s not deaf and it’ll open to us again someday. We’re one day closer to that Big Rain.

And that, dear friends, is what Shakespeare has to do with the drought map–

Okay, I see hands raised  all over out there in the dark red areas.

(Oh, boy, here we go.) “Yes, Gramps. What is it?”

“What happened to his boots, anyhow?”

“Well, for pity’s sake. Were you homeschooled, or something?”

Sorry, we’re all out of time for questions.

But what do y’all think?

  • Is Shakespeare awesome or what ?
  • Will the heavens in Oklahoma open again?
  • Do any of you publicly educated people know why Shakespeare would be bootless?
  • How about you homeschoolers? (And does your mom teacher still have to tell you to brush your teeth? Oh, my, goodness, she does, doesn’t she? You get in there right now and brush your teeth. Is she gonna have to tell you every, tiny, little thing to do all your life…?)

(Taking some deep breaths) Okay, I can see we have a real problem here, so I’ll conduct a scientific study to see how publicly educated people stack up against the homeschoolers on defining “bootless.”

I’ll start by contacting homeschooled Son 1, Son 2, and Son 3. (Oh, man…What if they don’t know the answer? That would make me look like an idiot as a mom teacher  blogger. Maybe I should call and tip them–No, Danni! Must not cheat on a scientific study…)

You may answer any, or all, of these pressing questions in the box below.

Join me next time when I’ll publish my honest to goodness findings. Until then God bless all y’all.