The Day the Ranch Changed Hands


On the edge of common sense

I first met the crew in the bunkhouse the day that we bought the 4 D’s.

I’d come in that night after supper and found’em all takin’ their ease.

My job was to count all the cattle and stay till the transfer was done.

I offered my hand to the cowboys and asked how the outfit was run.

“My name is Man’well Palamino. Vaquero. I came here to ride.

The boss said eef I wass illegal, I only could work the outside.

He put me down-there on the desert, at Cow Creek. Eet wassn’t a crime.

They brought us the grocery on Tuesday an’ that wass how we tol’
the time.

Four hunnred cows. Yus me an’ a kid whose name I remember was Yak.

Eet wass col’. I come from Chihuahua but no way wass I goin’ back.

Jew remember Yak, doan jew, Tombstone? Jew wass here back then, eese por sure.”

“Yeah. I’s here when you hit the country. You was green as a pile
of manure.

You couldn’t say nuthin’ in English. Pore Jack, he’d forgot how to speak.

When you guys come in for the brandin’ he wouldn’t shut up for a week!

I wonder where Jack ever wound up. He didn’t stay long around here.

All I know’s that Spring I’d been workin’ the 4 D’s for over a year.”

When some of these ranches change owners they come in and clean out
the place.

It’s ain’t no big deal if they do it, it’s just that it seems such a waste.

Like Manyul, he know every canyon and Tombstone he knows every cow.

Them hay meadows needs to be watered and Mick, he’s the man that knows how.

Even Pete, back there in the corner don’t say much and always looks grim

But he’s a mechanical genius and nuthin’ don’t run without him.

But let me just point out a factor. The nearest town’s sixty-five miles.

Not too many men like the lonesome and lonesome don’t fit women’s styles.

We even get hippies and outlaws. “Course, buckaroos, they come and go

But, a few of us, we’re sorta home here and we just thought someone should know.

So keep us in mind when you go back and if they ask how we might do

Could you tell ‘em… we fit the country. An’ put in a word for the crew.”

I told ‘em I’d sure think it over. We shook and I bid ‘em goodnight.

My bed was laid out at the main house so I walked up there toward the light.

I paused in the cottonwood shadows the moonlight had made in the lane

And soaked up the smell of the sagebrush and the ozone promise of rain.

I could hear the murmur of voices from the bunkhouse there for a spell.

No doubt they were hashin’ things over to see if they’d made their
case well.

But men like these cowboys, I’d vouch for. Was easy to cut ‘em
some slack

‘Cause twenty-one years this last winter, Manuel had been callin’ me Yak.

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