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On a night in mid-December,
the wind was blowin’ hard,
blizzard snows were fallin’
as Slim pulled into my yard.

I heard his pickup door slam,
saw him bend against the storm,
an’ knew this weren’t no social call
by my fireplace cracklin’ warm.

I’d rode with Slim for some time,
worked long hours on his ranch,
many years a toilin’,
never leavin’ naught to chance.

I flipped the ol’ porch light on;
his boots crossed weathered planks;
he flung the door wide open,
an’ his face looked haggard, blank.

“What brung ya out this time a night?”
I managed then to say.
“Well, I’m hear to ask ya, cowboy,
for a favor you might pay.”

He stomped his boots on the entry rug,
beat his hat against his knee,
snow flyin’ in a misty cloud
all over him an’ me.

“Ya see, I come a callin’
‘cause there’s a heifer by the creek
who thinks her time a birthin’s come,
half froze an’ too dang weak.

We’ll need to use yer pully
to drag her from that slough.
Just me an’ poor equipment
can’t do the job of two.”

“Why sure I’ll help ya, pardner,
just let me grab my coat,
an’ in case she gives us trouble,
an extra rope I’ll tote."

He drove his pickup, Hazel,
down to the ol’ barn door
to gather what we needed,
not wastin’ time for shor,’

When loaded up, we started
for the creek a quarter mile,
knowin’ we’d play doc that night,
there’d be no vet to dial.

The blizzard was a howlin’
like menacin’ gray wolves,
an’ we had to follow instincts
to find snow-covered hooves.

We hung our heads out windows,
sleet stingin’ cheeks an’ face,
no other way to see ahead
an’ find her hidin’ place.

We fin’lly heard her bawlin'.
Thinkin’ that was a good sign,
Slim’s dog, who rode between us,
started pullin’ on his bind.

I flung the door on my side
open with great haste,
an’ started runnin’ t’ward the cow,
we had no time to waste.

Slim waded thru’ the knee high snow
an’ tied the heifer’s feet,
then hookin’ rope to pully,
he made the job complete.

We slowly got her movin’,
both hands windin’ that ol’ crank.
She bawled an’ kicked a little,
but we got ‘er up the bank.

Then very slow we dragged
that poor, young, sufferin’ cow.
She managed to live thru’ it,
but I’m still a wonderin’ how.

When I saw dim lights at my place,
we both let out a sigh,
relieved we’d fin’lly made it,
yet afraid the cow might die.

We pulled her clear inside the barn
an’ placed her in a stall,
then tied her hind legs to the posts
while she bellered an’ she bawled.

We lit two kerosene lamps
to watch all the proceedin’s,
as she pushed to get the calf out,
her progress we was heedin'.

Pink, tiny nose an’ two front feet
was all that we could see,
contractin’ out, an’ then back in,
for what seemed eternity.

The steam was risin’ off that cow,
an’ the barn seemed almost warm
as we locked the doors against the cold
so this yungun could get born.

Slim turns to me in hour or so,
says, “This ain’t workin’, Son,
best get the rope ‘round that babe’s feet
an’ finish what’s begun.”

I can see him tyin’ off those feet
with a good knot an’ a half,
an’ sayin’ “Won’t be long now
before she drops this calf.”

We starts to yankin’ on the rope
extendin’ from that cow,
both of us bent at the knees,
not strength nor will was bowed.

I’m workin’ up a pow’ful sweat;
ol’ Slim, he does the same-
neither of us givin’ out
for fear a lookin’ lame.

We pulled an’ tussled half the night,
but with the mornin’ sun,
that critter come a slidin’ out,
we thought our work was done.

With gunnysacks, we wiped him,
since his ma was too dern weak
to clean up the little feller
an’ a milk teat let him seek.

His bony legs were wobbly,
but he soon stood on all fours,
as the blizzard kept on howlin’
outside those ol’ barn doors.

Slim slapped my back to thank me,
said, “Yer shor’ a son-of-a-gun,
but in hard times I can count on ya,
my best friend an' my son.”


Poetry by Tamara Hillman

Copyright 2005







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