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The Retiring [Dude] Rancher

Dick Elder, former owner of the Colorado Trails Ranch and Dude Ranch Hall of Fame Inductee wrote many poems about life as a dude rancher: He shared one at the annual convention this year and we would like to share it with you.
Please comment below on this page on what dude ranching means to you.

Dick Elder Author of "The Retiring Rancher"

Dick Elder in his element, Photo courtesy of Dick Elder

The Retiring Rancher

by Dick Elder © 1996

Sold my ranch out in the county,
And we moved down in to town.
Lost a thousand feet of elevation,
A thousand acres of grazing ground.

Thought I’d like to take it easy,
Drink coffee at Bob’s Café,
With all my rancher cronies,
To pass the time of day.

They’s a bunch of ‘em retired,
They’re in the same kind a fix.
I used to see them sittin’there,
Swappin’ lies and whittlin’ sticks.

And as I rode on by ‘em,
I’d give a little wave,
I kinda, well, sort of envied ‘em
Ole Monte, Lyle and Dave.

They didn’t have to get up early,
In the rain or wind and snow,
They didn’t need to get up at all,
‘Cause they had no place to go.

I seen the sadness in their eyes,
They didn’t laugh much like they use ta,
I reckon they felt kind a useless.
Now I’m thinking, that’s the way I do.

I didn’t think I’d miss ‘em,
Those mamas and their babies,
Draggin’ yearlings to the fire,
Was hard work, I don’t mean maybe.

But riding out early mornings,
During the round up in the fall,
Well, it gets underneath your skin
Singing that old cattle call.

Got a cuttin’ horse to beneath you,
Sorting brands there in the pens.
You’d like to have it last forever,
But you know it’s gotta end.

Your bones they get to aching,
Your back is one big pain,
You can hardly fork your pony
You hate gathering in the rain.

And you know it’s darn near over,
Makes you feel so sad and blue,
The things that you enjoy the most,
You can no longer do.

So although you hate t’do it,
You sell out with an auctioneer,
Watch your mother cows load in a pot,
The hammer falls on your old John Deere.

The dump rake your daddy used,
Sells as a genuine antique.
The junk collected over fifty years,
Just disappears, so to speak.

When the dust has settled,
And the folks have gone away,
You and the Mrs. stand and stare,
Neither one has much to say.

Now I’m counting up my money,
From the auction and the land,
Trying to figure out what happened,
Wondering, where the hell I stand.

I always know’d where I was goin’
Now, don’t know what lies ahead.
Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow,
Maybe, I’ll wake up dead.

Don’t have my ole mare to ride on,
Don’t feel the sunshine on my face.
What I have is a sack full of money,
What I don’t have…is my place.


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