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The Old Cow Man

  I rode across a valley range
    I hadn't seen for years.
  The trail was all so spoilt and strange
    It nearly fetched the tears.
  I had to let ten fences down
    (The fussy lanes ran wrong)
  And each new line would make me frown
    And hum a mournin' song.

    _Oh, it's squeak! squeak! squeak!_
      _Hear 'em stretchin' of the wire!_
    _The nester brand is on the land;_
      _I reckon I'll retire,_
    _While progress toots her brassy horn_
      _And makes her motor buzz,_
    _I thank the Lord I wasn't born_
      _No later than I was._

  'Twas good to live when all the sod,
    Without no fence nor fuss,
  Belonged in pardnership to God,
    The Gover'ment and us.
  With skyline bounds from east to west
    And room to go and come,
  I loved my fellow man the best
    When he was scattered some.

    _Oh, it's squeak! squeak! squeak!_
      _Close and closer cramps the wire._
    _There's hardly play to back away_
      _And call a man a liar._
    _Their house has locks on every door;_
      _Their land is in a crate._
    _These ain't the plains of God no more,_
      _They're only real estate._

  There's land where yet no ditchers dig
    Nor cranks experiment;
  It's only lovely, free and big
    And isn't worth a cent.
  I pray that them who come to spoil
    May wait till I am dead
  Before they foul that blessed soil
    With fence and cabbage head.

    _Yet it's squeak! squeak! squeak!_
      _Far and farther crawls the wire._
    _To crowd and pinch another inch_
      _Is all their heart's desire._
    _The world is overstocked with men_
      _And some will see the day_
    _When each must keep his little pen,_
      _But I'll be far away._

  When my old soul hunts range and rest
    Beyond the last divide,
  Just plant me in some stretch of West
    That's sunny, lone and wide.
  Let cattle rub my tombstone down
    And coyotes mourn their kin,
  Let hawses paw and tromp the moun'
    But don't you fence it in!

    _Oh, it's squeak! squeak! squeak!_
      _And they pen the land with wire._
    _They figure fence and copper cents_
      _Where we laughed 'round the fire._
    _Job cussed his birthday, night and morn._
      _In his old land of Uz,_
    _But I'm just glad I wasn't born_
      _No later than I was!_

Poem by Badger Clark
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