I’ve always sorta figgered the reason there is more cowboy poetry than there is farmer poetry has to do with horses.
Most cowboy poetry is about wrecks. One person plus one cow equals a wreck now and then. One person plus one cow plus one horse equals a wreck every time! But then farmers discovered the three-wheeler. Honda invented the ATV. It was the farmer’s first real horse replacement, complete with speed, weight, maneuvering, swerving, rolling, flipping, crashing and getting bucked off. The bonus was — they became a great inspiration for cowboy/farmer poetry!
Kelly was workin’ for John, his brother and his dad. They were farmers who ran steers on wheat pasture in western Oklahoma. They didn’t use horses. They used three-wheelers but they treated them like horses.
John had spotted a snotty nose so he picked up Kelly and they drove back out to find the critter. Kelly sat in the seat behind John as the three-wheeler sailed over the sandy wheat field. John pointed to a brockle calf with a little ear. He was a tad wasty and looked to weigh about 600 pounds. “Rope him!” directed John as he goosed the tricycle and snapped Kelly’s neck. They flew across the field toward the fence. John followed the racing calf, swerving from side to side. “Rope him!” he screamed.
Kelly was standing, tears streaming from his eyes, sand stinging his face and trying to swing a loop over the top of Kingfisher County’s answer to Evil Knievel.
“Git on the other side,” hollered Kelly, swingin’ his left-hand loop at the steer on the wrong side.
“This is as close as it gits,” yelled John, “Throw it!”
Kelly fired a bullet of a loop. It looked like a monkey ropin’ a gnu off the back of a galloping triceratops. He caught the steer! Now what? Kelly was gatherin’ slack as John hazed the steer. John grabbed the tail of the rope and tried to dally to the handlebars.
The steer stumbled at the fence. Kelly bounced over the pilot, hit the dirt and managed to take a wrap on one of the creosote posts. When the steer hit the end of the slack, the post broke off catapulting Kelly into the tangle. He clung to the post till the steer slowed to a crawl.
Over the horizon came John’s brother Steve and their dad. They were pullin’ the fishtailin’ stock trailer behind the careening pickup. Kelly was plowing a furrow and poundin’ his pockets full of sand when Steve leaped out.
He dropped the tailgate and, just like it was choreographed, the steer jumped toward the trailer.
“Let go of the post, you dummy!” shouted Steve, “You’ll get hurt.”
Kelly did. Like a slingshot, the post left his grip and whacked Steve square on the butt. His head hit the crossbar above the tailgate and he executed a complete backflip. John and his dad slammed the tailgate on the steer (and Steve who hung like a gutted white tail from the highest slats.)
Time has gone by and 4x4’s have replaced the three-wheeler. And it has its advantages, but neither three-wheelers or four can beat a horse and cowboy with a rope in his hand for getin’ the job done and makin’ a good story.