Tag Archives: Ranch Life

Poems and stories describing life working, living and growing up on a farm or ranch

CHILDREN HAVE

CHILDREN HAVE

Children have a great sense of smell

Maybe that’s why
their diapers make them cry

their first
breast sends them
on a lifelong quest
and a cinnamon bun
can stop us all in the mall

On a farm there’s hay
before it goes into the cow
and hay when it comes out

The pungency of pig, the foul of fowl

Rain before the first drop falls
and the whip of lightning after it cracks

Smoke on dad’s clothes from the prairie fire
snuff from the round box cutting his shirt

The dog, even wet, not diminished in love

If lost in a blizzard, or in the dark
it is always best to let go of the reins
so the horse’s nose can point you home

Lost in the world at four a.m.
twice blessed if yours can do the same

A STONEBOAT STORY

A STONEBOAT STORY

Rough planks across two wood-beam runners
low and tough enough to tip a heavy rock on
or haul the cleanings of the stalls in winter

Learning to stand in loose-kneed balance
full speed behind fast homing horse
across the frozen tracks and turds
on the way back to the barn

Buff off of Oahu teaching me to surf
I think “Just like this”
until the big wave comes and says “Not quite”

THE FARM, THE RANCH AND THE NEED FOR GOD

THE FARM, THE RANCH
AND THE NEED FOR GOD

Who pray to when the rains don’t come
who forget to thank when they do

Who curse when the John Deere breaks
and the cow jumps over the moon
(by the moon of course I mean
the fence to the alfalfa field)

Who in the long nights pondering
under the stars too cold to be suns
a word big enough for big

GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD MEMORIES

GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD MEMORIES

Slow driving west
down Saskatchewan 363

Paved now
but mud and gravel
fifty years ago when dad
came over from the home place
to help me build fourteen miles of fence

Half a mile from the old Fort Walsh trail
where the Mounties hauled supplies
for a starving Sitting Bull

A lot of history
and a damn good fence
still standing, still stretching
like time, and our time together

Smooth and endless
over the soft rolling hills

From this distance you can’t see
the barbs in the wire

THE USELESS LAKE

THE USELESS LAKE

At the edge of our ranch
lay on a large and useless lake

True, it was pretty enough
when the sun struck it just right

And the alkali
didn’t seem to be a problem
for the seeming millions
of cormorants, gulls and pelicans
who embraced it for their home

There were even men
living along the south shore
who may have been happy
mining its salt for money

What I meant was
it was water
that the cows couldn’t drink

CLEANING THE CALF SHED

CLEANING THE CALF SHED

Forty below outside
not much warmer
on the inside

A hundred little Herefords
dropping and stepping
where it freezes
where it drops

The calves are
four feet closer
to the roof
by April

After the thaw
sitting on the steel seat
of the little orange Allis
with the front end loader

Driving in hard
and pulling
out
fast

Manuria
in one nostril
spring

LONG HOT SASKATCHEWAN SUMMER SHORT POEMS

LONG HOT SASKATCHEWAN SUMMER SHORT POEMS

Hay bales pile
the sun stays to watch
will evening come

_____________________

Plow breaks again
metal too hot to touch
will evening come

_____________________

Girl in summer dress
more heat inside than out
fall is soon coming

_____________________

Beer is all gone
road weaves our way home
morning comes soon

_____________________

Sun rises at four
bones store summer heat
winter days are short

_____________________

Waiting for the crop
rain or hail, God decides
in the pub, politics

_____________________

Stopping for water
dry eyes turn westward
reading the clouds

_____________________

The farmer complains
gratitude too much like pride
outside the rain falls