I began writing cowboy poetry in 1992 and gave my first recitation in 1994 at Omak, WA. I have since performed in various venues in Washington and Montana, including the annual Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Lewistown, the Ellensburg,WA Spirit of the West Celebration, the Puyallup, WA Spring Fair, the Arlee Rodeo Weekend at Arlee, MT, and was the cowboy poet for the annual Cattleman’s Winter School in Mt. Vernon, WA in 2000-2002.
I retired from my professional life in 1999 as Chief Engineer for Propulsion Research for a large aircraft manufacturer whose name I won’t mention, located in the Seattle area. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, my wife, Christine, and I left Western Washington in October of 2002 to develop a small ranch at the foot of the Mission Mountains near St. Ignatius, Montana. The goal of my poetry is to reflect everyday life on small Montana cattle ranch in one the most beautiful places in God’s creation-the Mission Valley.
By Jerry Laskody
Each morning when he wakes up
He searches the western sky
Then checks the daily weather report
And lets out a disgusted sigh.
The snow pack it was average
And things were looking fine
Then ‘long about mid-April
Came the first tell tale sign.
Instead of normal rain fall
Why the weather it was dry
And the temperatures they got worm
Well it felt like mid-July.
Optimistically he thought
It will surely rain in May
And if it didn’t whey there’s still time
For a wet June to save the day.
To be on the safe side
And to keep the grass ‘a growin’
He turned the sprinklers on
So in July he would be mowin’.
He put water on the pastures
Got to keep those cows a’milkin’
And them new born calves
He gotta’ keep ‘em growin’.
May has come and gone
And it keeps getting’ drier
The run off it’s comin’ early
And the situation is looking dire.
The BIA who runs our Project
They are surely misbehavin’
Instead of storing precious water,
None of it they’re savin’.
The temperatures are getting hotter
And the ground is getting drier
Here it is mid-June
And we’re worried about fire.
Surely it will rain in June
It always has before
But the month it just passes
Without a big downpour.
He cuts the hay in July,
In the blazing summer heat
But it’s only half a crop
So one again he’s beat.
He keeps the water sprinklin’
Hoping for a break
If the water runs out early
Was this strategy a mistake?
Now he’s thinkin’ of Plan B
Wean ‘em early and sell ‘em light
Or start buyin’ extra hay?
It’s hard to know what’s right.
When your partner is Mother Nature
She’s as fickle as can be
Ya’ gotta’ expect some bad years
It just happens naturally.
Ya just keep rollin’ with the punches
And keep tryin’ to do yer best
Yer brain is workin’ over time
Dealin’ with each new test.
There’s one thing about most cowmen
Some folks just call it grit
Never once does it cross his mind
That he’d give up and quit.
He knew this day might come
When he picked this hear profession
But he wishes that it hadn’t
And to that he’d be confessin’
Well this story it ain’t over
And it sure ain’t nothin’ new
‘Cause every year some cowman somewhere
Has to face it with much rue.
This verse might sound like whinning
But I deny that this is true
It’s jut a reality of ranchin’
And all you cowboys know it, too.
It’s winter’neath the Missions
By Jerry Laskody
It’s winter ‘neath the Missions,
And we feel those icy blasts
The cows they’re all haired up
And we’re feedin’ on the flats.
The firewood is all split and stacked
And the wood stove it’s a blazin’
While all around us we witness
The beauty of God’s creation.
There’s snow up on the mountains
That carries the hope of next year’s water
And things have finally slowed down
So we can plan or at least we oughta’.
The calves are at the feeder
Chowin’ down on alfalfa fodder
They’ll soon be headed’ into town
Unless the prices once more dodder.
The cows are in the North 40.
As we rough ‘em through this weather
There’s three more months of winter
‘Fore the temperatures get any better.
Christine is sittin’ near the hearth,
Studying’ all those catalogs,
While I’ve just come in from feedin’
And I toss on a few more logs.
It’s warm here by the wood stove
As we dream of the coming Spring
When calves dance in green pastures
And we hear the meadowlark sing.
Yeah it’s winter in Montana
But we know that we are blessed
To ranch in this hear place and time
Out in America’s West.