The Making of A Hand
C&I's Poem of the Week for 9/7/2011
The trail boss said for us to circle ‘em slow,
And told us to bed ‘em just under that knoll.
We’d been on the trail now for six long weeks,
And by my count, we’d had as many stampedes.
Between that, and crossin’ rivers, and no end to the heat,
All of us fellers was behind on our sleep.
And with no end in sight, accordin’ to the boss,
Had to get these steers to market, without too many lost.
All us ‘boys had hired on to do a job of work,
A daunting task, to be sure, but one we never thought to shirk.
To drive a herd, 2,000 strong, up a trail 600 miles,
Was cause for many a sleepless night, and not too many smiles.
Beans and sowbelly, Arbuckle’s and bread,
Not much variation, but at least we was fed.
Between Cooky’s complainin’ and Luther’s spittin’
There weren’t much diversion, but we never spoke of quittin’.
Ol’ Woody was pretty savvy, and hardly spoke a word,
Just rolled a smoke and grunted, then set off to ride night herd.
And “Pappy” was the oldest, but boy, that man could ride!
Had him a big ol’ Spanish saddle, in which he took a lot of pride.
Preston, he could sing a tune, plumb break your heart in two,
And Billy was the prankster, always good for a joke or two.
“The Reb” had fought in the Civil War, and was always on the prod,
But he’d do ‘to ride the river with’, and that was enough, by God!
As for me, they call me Buck, and it was my first trail drive,
But I was bent on makin’ a hand, and makin’ it thru alive.
As we crossed the rivers and plains of Texas, and on up thru the Nations,
Our job would be done when we delivered ‘em to Dodge’s railway station.
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