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Southeastern Oregon
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Listening for His Cinch Bell

Dear Lord, I know I donít talk with you enough
Here anymore, itís just because he is late
I always knew his days would be long and tough
But I didnít know how hard itíd be to wait

It's two hours past dark, four past quitting time
He should have been home by now, whereís he at?
A storm's coming on; I can hear my wind chimes
About then, the first rain drop falls with a splat

He mentioned he was checking heifers today
Up in the high pasture, the one past the creek
He was going to trot out, thought heíd take the grey
That raunchy one, you know, that has the mean streak

I know I shouldnít worry, but yet I do
Heís a big boy, he can take care of himself
His absence continues to make my mind stew
Could he be hiding beneath the rocky shelf?

Maybe that no good colt tipped over on him?
Maybe those heifers are scattered all around
From heck to breakfast out on that shell rock rim?
And maybe, heís lying wounded on the ground?

At the door, I strain to hear his jingle bobs
Regardless of the brewing storm just outside
This is the downfall of these cowboying jobs
Peering into the dark, looking for his stride

Lord, please quiet my mind and ease this girlís heart
For the sake of my sanity, send him home
As his wife, Iíve always tried to do my part
I promised from his side I would not roam

The dog perks his ears and heads toward the front door
I can hear it too; his cinch bell ringing
And comes the end of my internal war
This time, but the battle wounds are still stinging.

© 2010, Jessica Hedges
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Jessica comments: Growing up in a ranching family, and marrying into one, it has become a tradition to wait and wonder where your husband or dad is. This is something that many women I know, including myself, really struggle with.


History in the Barn

Iím in the barn alone tonight
Just reflecting upon the day
The stars and the moon sure are bright
As I finished brushing the bay

With a pat I turn the horse out
A silent thanks for all that he is
Heís a good one beyond any doubt
A perfect kind for this biz

Slowly I turn back towards the barn
I see character the others have miss
But those other guys donít give a darn
Only seeing the flaws of this

A hundred years this barn must be
And oh the stories it could tell
Some of sorrow and jubilee
Oh how I just long to dwell

It had comforted the owner
The day the boss lady had died
A humbled man now a loner
Forever without his bride

It had triumphed with the kid
Who through hard knocks became a hand
The youthfulness he worked to rid
As he tried to ride for the brand

It was anxious for the coworkers
Who were slowly falling in love
Miss Reba and Mr. Merker
That no body knew the likes of

Here it stands without attention
Both the doors beginning to sway
The roof has lost most the tension
All its feed bunks in disarray

It continues to guard our tack
The only defense from the rain
From the floor up to the roof rack
Its protection it shall maintain

Though youíre tired when you get back
For it there is never any rest
Put a few nails in this old shack
And to your honor itíll attest

But leave it broken and alone
Its frame will begin to crumble
As its eves will begin to moan
Beneath the thunderís rumble

That building is a living thing
As silly as that must sound
The history it does sing
All stories of the old compound

If it falters, history will too
Its not that hard to take the pride
Although the job is never through
To keep this old barn from divide

© 2010, Jessica Hedges
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jessica comments:
The ranch I grew up on was started in the 1800s. It has an amazing barn that I grew up working and playing in as a kid. I always had the feeling that something special happened there but to this day I don't know of any specific event.


He lost a good friend today
Through no fault of his own
It was his flea bitten grey
All of it said through a groan

The horse didnít like hobbles
He was never sure what to do
The grey and the hobbles had squabbles
The battle had been overdue

The grey was in the round corral
Just standing with his halter
Erect the horse couldnít rationale
Moving caused him to falter

The cowboy moved for his head
But not quick enough though it seems
For he had missed the thread
Thatíve prevented todayís theme

He hit the ground thrashing
The man leaping for his head
The damage from the bashing
Couldnít escape this purebred

The right hind had been broken
What else was the ranch to do
They gave the horse his token
The respect for his adieu

Released to the great beyond
This stud would live out his days
Past the corporate bond
Completing his earthly phase

A lock of hair remains
Reminding the cowboyís heart
Of the passion through his veins
To complete this dying art

The art of training horses
Thereís so few left who do
He canít contend with the forces
Who determine the card we drew

So his heart will slowly mend
But the memory wonít fade
Of the life he couldnít extend
Shall become his new crusade

© 2010, Jessica Hedges
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jessica comments:
"Leo" is the poem that really got me back into cowboy poetry. This is a true story of my husband, two weeks into a job training colts for someone else. We wondered if he was going to have a job or if we were going to have a place to live, and the hardest part was he couldn't have done anything different with that colt. It was just one of those things that happen."

Ghosts of Cavalry

It's 3:30 in the morning and his breath hangs heavy on the air
As he heads out to wrangle the remuda for the days work ahead
He tightens his latigo by Braille as the moon has hid its soft glare
With an overcast October sky above the Solider Meadows spread

The wrangle horse is a bit humped up but settles into a fast trot
As the rider posts to the familiar rhythm, at ease with the night
The rest of the buckaroos on the crew are curled up on their warm cots
As Cookie is whipping up the meal that will soon make their bellies tight

He tries to listen past the sounds of his reata and jingle bobs
For the bell on the lead horse that will tell him where the remuda reigns
Bringing the horses in is only the first of todayís many jobs
And he gets after it in earnest as itís not in him to complain

The ever so slight sound of ringing comes to the wranglerís cold ears
And the faint outline of caballo are discernible in the haze
He nears a barbed wire fence and a shiver runs through him in fear
For the things he trailed passed through the wire and into a willowed maze

A coldness strikes him as he realized the sounds he hears are sabers
Sabers of the soldiers who use to ride this circle on night guard
His eyes try to make sense of it all as he takes a breath with labor
He whirls his horse around to finish his job, hitting that trot real hard

Itís been years since the morning the wrangler saw the cavalry here
Carrying this secret, not even sure he believes what he saw
But the dream returns to him at night, striking him with a haunting fear
Asking what lingering evils make the cavalry patrol that draw

© 2011, Jessica Hedges
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jessica comments:
I was inspired to write this true story of my husband's growing up in northeastern Nevada. He must have told me this a hundred times and it still gives me chills...



Milkshake Finale

Across rural America there is an understood rule
That you don't walk too close to a pickup unless you're a fool

The reason for this is simple enough for most folks you see
Because most ranch pickups are guarded by a good cow dog or three

They're not trying to be mean but its their job to watch the truck
To make sure it's not raided or vandalized by some dumb cluck

Well I had just finished checking pairs in the Central Valley
When I headed to McDonalds for a milkshake finale

It happened to be St. Patrick's Day so they'd have Shamrock Shakes
I pulled my truck in next to a planter and hit the breaks

I left my 6-month old McNab in the bed of my step side
And headed toward the door of that fast food joint with a long stride

I ordered me a milkshake and cheeseburger and sat down
To watch the comings and goings of people here in town

All of a sudden a man covered in green milkshake came in
That minty ice cream substance dripping and oozing off his chin

Screaming a few choice words, he asked who brought their damn dog with them
A quick look around the joint told the man I was the problem

I was the only cowboy in the restaurant that day
And the only person who'd drive a pickup that looked that way

The drippy green man apparently had an armload of shakes
The skinny trail between my Ford truck and planter he takes

When a black and white beast with gums barred popped up from the truck bed
The man threw those 8 shakes straight up and they came down on his head

Now I know darn well that pup didn't go over the truck side
He'd just given that man a warning for being near my ride

So the point of the melty mess is quite clear I think you'll find
Walking too close to a cowboy's bed will put you in a bind

© 2011, Jessica Hedges
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jessica comments:
This is actually an experience my dad had in Central California, and it still cracks me up every time I hear it.


Buckaroo Woman, Unconfined

There ain't much I ask for from God and this old world
Always been a pretty easy keeper so I guess
Never been one for dresses or ballet slippers that twirl
I've just tried to live by the motto that more is less

All I need is a strong horse and good riding kack
And endless Nevada sage will keep me more than fine
A nice stout bit and a few pieces of well made tack
Are all I need to keep me on the straight and narrow line

Just leave me with an old truck that's firing hot
And let me drive as far as the fuel tank will take me
For my bedroll and my dreams are all that I've got
I know its not lady like, but please just let me be

Leave me to my horses and cows in this sagebrush sea
Leave me to my stars and basin sounds of the night
Leave me to prove I'm capable and a bit gutsy
Leave me to ponder the universe and write

For I am an animal unlike this world had ever known,
driven by something different than the rest of my kind
I carry the spirit of many but stand alone
The spirit of the buckaroo woman, unconfined

© 2011, Jessica Hedges
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jessica comments:
...the poem is just my feelings straight up.


Ranch to Raise Me

I was drug kicking and screaming to the sage
Wondering what could ever be here for me
But now Iím near 18 and coming of age
I can think of no where else Iíd rather be

For the land and its people have taught me much
About how a person should live on this earth
How feeling something is more than about touch
That a man should have his own sense of self-worth

I learned how a woman could make it out there
From a boss that gave me motherly advice
Rough around the edges and boy could she swear
Youíd better get to the point and be concise

There was the coworker I had dated
That I thought was everything Iíd ever need
But time and pain more than demonstrated
That Iíd find a better suited man to lead

Oh ya, and you canít forget good old Charlie
Charlie always had a smile and good mood
The glass was always half full not half empty
Itís a lesson I always try to include

My mouth and spirit were far from mild
I was wild and crazy most would agree
Itís said to take a village to raise a child
But it took a Nevada ranch to raise me

© 2012, Jessica Hedges
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jessica comments:
This is an autobiographical piece that explains a bit of my teen years and for me, helps me appreciate my life now so much more.

The Ranch Wives' Laundry Meeting

I call this nation meeting of ranch wives to order
For the issue of discussion has caused some disorder

All of us have had this happen at least a time or two
So we are giving this problem the attention its due

Laundry is one of the daily chores for every good wife
And like it or not, it is just one of those facts of life

But what is getting mighty hard to deal with is the stuff
That comes out of their pockets and treats my washer quite rough

I have found needles, Copenhagen, wrenches, knives, herd books
Vaccines, keys, staples, drill bits, pain killers, rocks and eye hooks

What I have yet to figure out is how such a smart man
Can't manage to empty his pockets out on his night stand

Iíve tried batting my eyelashes and asking pretty please
Iíve tried threatening to divorce him and finding a new squeeze

Iíve tried removing these things myself from his yucky pants
Shot myself with 7 way meant for the cows of his auntís

Then heís got the nerve to tell me heís been looking for that
As though I hid it from him just like a dirty rat

Now all of this may be tolerable if you find money
Who am I kidding, we married us some cowboys honey

So maybe in this meeting our time would be better spent
Designing a new washing machine for us to invent

© 2014, Jessica Hedges
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jessica comments:
"The Ranch Wives' Laundry Meeting" is the first in a series of poems that make light of the problems that women who love ranch men encounter.


  About Jessica Hedges:
                                                 provided 2015

Out in southeastern Oregon there is a breed of cowboys and ranchers thriving, raising their families, respecting the traditions of their culture. Jessica Hedges and her family live here, doing the same things, but she's trying to tell their story through social media and cowboy poetry. Sam, her husband, buckaroos for the ZX Ranch in Paisley. Jessica is a stay-at-home mom to their toddler boys, Quirt and Cinch. Previous jobs and living in cow camp gave her the cowboying bug, a yearning for big country, and a desire to learn quality horsemanship and stockmanship. Although she doesn't swing her leg over a horse much these days, it is a goal to return to that part of her life as the boys get bigger. After child chasing and house cleaning, there is somehow time to perform and operate her accessories line, The Buckarette Collection.


2010 Academy of Western Artists Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year
2010 Western Music Association Top 5 Finalist for Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year
2010 Academy of Western Artists Top 5 Finalists for Female Poet of the Year
2010 Western Music Association Top 5 Finalists for Crescendo Award
2010 Columbia River Cowboy Gathering People's Choice Award Winner



Buckaroo Woman Unconfined 


Lady Buckaroo
Cowgirl Craze
Buckaroo Woman Unconfined
Today's Plan
Tack Trunk
Wild Rag
Winter Clothing
Next Generation
Ranch to Raise Me
Hankerin' to Roam
Ode to Little Jo
Bronco Twister's Prayer/Amazing Grace with Steve Harrington
Cowboy's Flame
The Ride
Milkshake Finale
Outlaw Angel
Ranch Wives Laundry Meeting
Listening for his Cinch Bell

Find the Buckaroo Woman Unconfined CD and downloads at her web site, here.



History in the Barn

Named Best Cowboy Poetry Album, 2010
by the Academy of Western Artists

History in the Barn is the debut cowboy poetry CD for ranch daughter and wife, Jessica Hedges. It talks about her experiences, and of those close to her, all wrapped up with a windy or two. The story lines emulate honor, integrity, history, humor and sorrow. She illustrates a "no-holds-barred" attitude as she talks about ranch life, past and present...

History in the Barn includes 11 original poems and Jessica Hedges' recitation of Waddie Mitchell's "Where to Go."


Find more about Jessica Hedges and a track list, downloads, and order information here information at Jessica Hedges' web site,, and at MySpace:




Listening for his Cinch Bell
Fifty Plus Years
History in the Barn
Buckaroo Traditions
Why I'll Never Stray
Resting Place
Joaquin Murrieta
One Last Shot
Where To Go



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