Cowboy Songs and Singers: Of Lifeways and Legend

FOUND ON A SHEEP HERDER'S MESS BOX

Mr. O'Malley says that he wrote this in 1897 for a friend named Green Johnson who was herding sheep because an injury suffered while riding a mean horse several years before had barred him from the cowpuncher's profession. Johnson sent it to the Stock Growers' Journal. It moved one of the editors, Ed Butler, to write an editorial on the same subject, apparently a public question of considerable importance in the sheep country.

You, stranger, who comes to my tent,
I hope you'll ride away content.
Eat all you want, my only wishes
Are, when you're through you'll wash the dishes.

The fare is plain, I will allow,
But you are in a sheep camp now;
So bacon fried you'll have to go,
With flapjacks made of sour dough.

There's coffee made and in the pot,
Placed on the stove 'twill soon get hot.
You cannot ask for pie or cake,
For they take too much time to make.

So, stranger, please be kind enough,
Don't try to treat the herder rough;
Eat all you want, eat all you can,
But tie my tent and wash the pan.

Yes, stranger, of a sin beware,
Don't make the poor sheep herder swear;
But please respect his only wishes,
Eat of his grub but wash his dishes.

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