Cowboy Songs and Singers: Of Lifeways and Legend


This was written on a Winter night after Mr. O'Malley had been parted from $2 by a fellow with a long spiel. He says that at that time there were many "summer hands" or "mail order cowboys" They were only good enough to fill in as herders or extras during roundup time, but when they told it around the stove in Winter they were all "top hands". The poem appeared in the Stock Growers' Journal on December 23, 1893. It was signed Iyam B. Usted.

I am a busted cowboy
   And I work upon the range;
In Summer time I get some work
   But one thing that is strange,
As soon as Fall wrok's over
   We get it in the neck
And we get a Christmas present
   On a neatly written check.

Then come to town to rusticate,
   We've no place else to stay
When Winter winds are howling,
   Because we can't eat hay.
A puncher's life's a picnic;
   It is one continued joke,
But there's none more anxious to see Spring
   Than a cowboy who is broke.

The wages that a cowboy earns
   In Summer go like smoke,
And when the Winter snows have come
   You bet your life he's broke.
You can talk about your holiday,
   Your Christmas cheer and joy;
It's all the same to me, my friend,
   Cash gone-I'm a broke cowboy.

My saddle and my gun's in soak,
   My spurs I've long since sold;
My rawhide and my, quirt are gone;
   My chaps-no, they're too old;
My stuff's all gone, I can't even beg
   A solitary smoke,
For no one cares what becomes of
   A cowboy who is broke.

Now, where I'll eat my dinner
   This Christmas, I don't know;
But you bet I'm goinz to have one
   If they give me half a show.
This Christmas has no charms for me,
   On good thing's I'll not choke,
Unless I get a big hand-out
   I'm a cowboy who is broke.

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