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Special Cowboy Poetry Feature

Spring/Summer 2004, Volume 21.3

Cowboy Poetry

Stan Tixier

Photo of Stan Tixier.

Stan Tixier has been writing and reciting cowboy poetry since 1991. He has authored two collections of poetry, A Good Lookin' Horse and A Better Lookin' Horse, and a novel, Green Underwear. A frequent reciter to audiences throughout the West, he has won numerous competitions at "Poetry Rodeos." He spent several years as a working cowboy in southern Colorado. He graduated from the University of Arizona with bachelor and master's degrees in Range Management. After a career with the U.S. Forest Service, and retiring in 1991 as regional forester of the Intermountain Region, he served as President of the Society for Range Management. Currently, he lives with his wife, Jan, in Eden, Utah, where they raise and train Foxtrotting Horses.

Welcome Rain

A cowboy and an Eastern dude,
A most unlikely pair,
Were flyin' 'cross the country.
Assigned, by chance, to share
The last two seats in tourist class
On some big jet airplane,
The conversation that they had
Was mostly 'bout the RAIN.

It'd been a pourin' steadily
For several days or so,
Across a bunch of western states.
And in New Mexico
Where they were headin' on their fight
Most every pond and tank
Was full, the creeks and rivers there
Were runnin' bank to bank.

The dude had come to play some golf
And tennis, don't you know,
The cowboy, to participate
In some big rodeo.
So each one was affected by
Excess precipitation,
And neither of 'em could adjust
A pre-made reservation.

The Eastern dude was most perturbed,
And anxious to complain
How his vacation would be spoiled
By that confounded rain.
He fumed and fussed and swore a lot
And said it wasn't fair;
They'd advertised a desert
And now a swamp was there.

The cowboy'd be impacted too
By breaks that he'd been given,
'Cause ropin' in arenas dry
Was how he made his livin'.
Yet he seemed sorta' unconcerned,
Not tryin' to be rude,
He set out to explain some facts
To that frustrated dude.

He said, "You ought to understand
This country's mostly dry.
We need this moisture to survive;
There's lots of reasons why.
So mister, don't get too upset;
Let's try to be more lenient,
'Cause RAIN is always welcome here,
But seldom is convenient!"


The Parade

The District Ranger at Duchesne
And his hard workin' crew
Had been a' chasin' lots a' smoke
More than a month or two.
The forest fire season there
Had surely put a strain
On all the District personnel—
They really needed rain.

So when a soakin' shower
Came through, at last, one night,
The Duchesne District workin' force
Were thinkin' how they might
Complete some other projects
And plans that they had made.
Perhaps they might participate
In next week's town parade.

They said, "By gosh, let's do it!
Let's show the people how
This Multiple-Use Forest
Is workin' here and now
To meet their needs and wishes,
Show how we manage land.
Our entry in the big parade,
Let's make it really grand!"

They figured, rather than a float
They'd use the pack-mule string
To carry illustrations
Of all assorted things
This Forest land produces,
Like water, grass and wood
And outdoor recreation
And wildlife, if they could.

So all the pack and saddle stock
Were fit with a display,
Lashed on to Decker saddles
In every kind of way.
They tied on posts and fuelwood,
Some tall wheatgrass was dug
And hung on wavin' upright,
Sure hard to get it snug!

They slung big photo-boards on one,
Depicting recreation,
And hung some water jugs on, too,
For further information.
The most unique and challenging
Of all the Decker loads
Was wildlife, and they pondered long
About what could be showed.

They asked the State game warden,
An advocate/believer
In wildlife conservation, if
He'd help live-trap a Beaver
That needed movin' anyway.
And so they did, by golly,
And tied it up there, trap and all,
On their most gentle Molly.

They had no time to practice much
Until that very morning.
So when they got `em all lined up
Without a lot of warning,
Mules looked at one another's loads,
They shied and started balkin',
Their cargo'd tilt and turn and shift
As soon as they were walkin'.

The crew pulled latigos up snug
And tightened up the hitches.
Old Chet set out a' leadin' 'em
From center road to ditches.
He had to keep 'em movin'
And never let 'em stand,
Lest they get tangled up and spooked
And surely out of hand.

The unique equine entry then
Got lined out fairly well,
And started off down Main Street.
It wasn't hard to tell
That those old mules were shaky,
Especially when the pack
In front of 'em would wobble
Or swim from front to back.

The wheatgrass led in front of
The Molly with the trap
And nervous Beaver, swayin'
On every single lap.
As Chet led them in circles
Each time the High School band
In front of them would slow down
Or play their tunes and stand.

The pack string turnin' circles
Now wide and wider spun,
Around a power-pole went most,
In fact, went all but one.
The pig-tail ropes were broken,
So Chet lost all his mules,
And they where loose and buckin'
And actin' just like fools.

They scattered wood and wheatgrass
And jugs and photo-boards
Along Duchesne's main thoroughfare
And then went headin' towards
The Ranger District pasture,
But Molly, buckin' hard,
Went tearin' hell-for-leather
Right thru the mayor's yard.

She ripped up the geraniums,
Destroyed the pansy bed,
And then tore down the clothesline,
A nightgown on her head.
She shook it off and stomped it,
At last she stood around.
The trap and dizzy Beaver
Were turned and hangin' down.

The Beaver's nose was bloody,
His eyes were red and glazed,
His big broad tail was bent somewhat,
I guess he was amazed
That yesterday he's chompin' trees
And splashin' in a stream,
Today he's part of a a parade
And Ranger District team.

When prizes were awarded
For bands and floats and such,
The District crew had not-a-doubt
They weren't a' gettin' much.
But if there'd been a trophy
For tryin' hard to bring
Excitement to the town parade,
They'd sure have won the thing.


Rangeland Tug-O-War

What's the best use of Rangeland?
I asked a lot of folks,
Or is it just a pile of sand,
A place for cowboy jokes?
Its uses add to many,
So, multiple's the term,
Perhaps there isn't any
Best use that's hard and firm.

The rancher says there's no doubt
That Rangeland's for the cow,
Why, any child can figure out
It's not a place to plow,
But, it's a home for cattle,
For sheep and horses too,
So stockmen will do battle
With those who'd ban the moo.

The sportsman knows it's habitat
For wildlife, they can tell,
For deer and elk and more than that,
It's small game space as well.
And where there's lakes or rivers,
Biologists will wish
The Rangeland site delivers
A habitat for fish.

The forester hints Rangeland's
As worthless as can be,
What good's a place where use-plans
Don't emphasize the tree?
It may make posts and fuelwood,
But after that he'll pass,
Such country doesn't look good—
There's no board-feet in grass.

Now if you ask the miner,
He'll tell you it's the place.
Can there be something finer,
And use a smaller space,
Than mineral extraction?
No other use, I'm told,
Would yield even a fraction
Of what they get for gold.

The ones who drill for oil and gas,
And those that dig for coal,
Will say that Rangelands, first and last,
Could have no higher goal
Than energy production.
You get it from the ground,
There should be no reduction
Of leases all around.

The campers and the hikers
Agree that Rangeland's great,
Also the motor bikers
Think trails should have no gate,
'Cause recreation's foremost,
There must be room to roam,
It's more than just an outpost,
A fun-time, outdoor home.

Just ask the preservationist,
You shouldn't have to guess,
It's open-space that meets the test—
It should be Wilderness.
Outlaw commercial uses
Of Rangelands, yes we should,
Abolish Range abuses,
Let's lock 'em up for good.

There's animals and plants galore
Whose future's insecure.
There's birds and fish and many more
That may not long endure.
"Endangered Species" mention
That Rangeland plays a role.
With management attention,
Recovery is the goal.

The wild horse lovers reckon
There's one endangered breed,
So Rangelands all should beckon
The noble feral steed.
Don't chase 'em, trap 'em, fell 'em,
'Cause freedom is their thing.
Adopt `em, never sell `em,
Despite the cash they'd bring.

Next comes the irrigator,
And hydro-engineer.
They'll tell you now and later
That Rangeland has no peer,
As watershed, the cover
Of vegetation, grass,
Will out-perform each other
Identified land mass.

Now Rangeland isn't all the same,
It has unique places.
There's wetter zones that have a name
That conjures special graces.
Let's recognize the meadow,
Conserve it all we can.
It's valuable we all know,
It's called "Riparian."

Research is vital to the cause,
Investigations show.
Despite environmental laws,
There's lots more we don't know.
The scientist's solution
Suggests that time be spent
Avoiding Range-pollution—
Apply Range Management.

But how can all those users
Of Rangeland have their way?
Some likely will be losers,
Some may not even play.
All uses are important there,
But how it's used is key,
So users need to learn to share

But when we total up the score,
And users don't agree
That Rangeland should be used for more
Than their priority,
We wonder if they realize,
Or do they really care?
We don't have to prioritize—
It's better if we share.

For Rangeland has resources,
And capability.
If users would join forces,
Perhaps at last they'd see,
When fussing finally takes its toll,
Cooperation starts,
Rangeland's a place wherein the whole
Is greater than its parts.

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