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Shawnee, Wyoming
About Terry Henderson
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The Boy in Sheepskin Shoes

The little boy lived in a camp.
His father herded sheep.
One full moon night Boy heard a sound
that woke him from his sleep.

He pushed back his worn blanket
and he crept across the floor.
The hinges creaked at the
sliding latch on that sheep wagon door.

The bleating noise came clearly
as it cut through cold night air.
But shadows danced and evil lurked
on the snowy meadow there.

His heart beat drummed up in his throat
as he tiptoed 'cross the flat.
And he saw the shadow up ahead
of a stalking mountain cat.

Beyond lay granite boulders
scattered in a narrow draw.
Now the boy was truly frightened
at the awful scene he saw.

Ten good ewes were trapped there
and the lion's tail curled low.
The lion paused upon a rock.
It's warning tail swung slow.

So intent the lion focused
upon the victim ewes
that he failed to note his follower--
the boy in sheepskin shoes.

Suddenly a banshee yell
roared through the walls of night.
The lion was so startled
he fled quickly in his fright.

The shepherd boy set up a guard
and shivered there 'til dawn.
That's when his father returned home
and found his son was gone.

For Father wanted Christmas,
which was this special day,
to be filled with gifts and goodies,
in their modest, humble way.

He'd gone to town the day before,
not planning to be long,
but his truck broke down, no parts were found.
So many things went wrong.

He heard the plaintive bleating
and soon beheld the sight
of the captured ewes with their guardian
nearly frozen from the night.

The sheep he gave their freedom,
but his heart was filled with pride
as he said, "You were their saviour,"
and he hugged his son and cried.

They returned to their warm wagon
and the comforts therein lay.
And the Father and the Son
then celebrated Christmas Day.

© 2005, Terry Henderson 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Terry told us that this poem "... came from my time spent in a sheep wagon during calving season and from the band of sheep our neighbor's ran up in the '2nd range,' just up the valley from our cow camp.  It was pretty rugged up there."

This poem is included with other 2005 Christmas poems.


4-H Calf

When she first saw that handsome steer
he looked so sweet and gentle.
She never dreamed he'd be the cause
of adjustments, mainly dental.

The maze of pens he sauntered through
until he reached the squeeze chute.
And then he stopped as if his feet
had grown a long tap root.

And when she brought the halter out,
he threw his head up high.
No inferior little youngster
would overwhelm this guy!

He tossed his head both right and left.
He bobbed it high and low.
If he had to wear that awful thing,
then he just wouldn't go.

Carefully, she held the lead
while opening the gate.
But he had all four planted there.
This would not be his fate.

She tugged at him and talked to him.
And then he took a leap.
The weight and slack came all at once.
She landed in a heap.

Free at last, he bucked and kicked.
From stockade he had bust.
But dragging on that leading end,
she's back there plowing dust.

The next day was a different plan.
She used some help from brother.
But that old steer still drug them both...
and even drug her mother!

Eventually, he learned to lead
like all good show steers do.
But the judges thought it strange she called
her red steer "Black and Blue."

© 2005, Terry Henderson 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Terry told us she wrote this poem for her daughter, when she got her first calf, one of her poems, "written while my kids were growing up and going through the county fair stage."


Easter Delivery Routes

Two Easter bunnies met one morn on Easter Basket Trail.
Each knew he had the toughest route, each spake a harrowing tale.

In order to prove up their point, they said they'd trade next year.
When they returned to settle up, each brought a tale of fear.

The rural bunny spoke up first. "I never knew," he said,
"how very many yards you had.  My feet are nearly dead.

Tis terrible the load you bear, so many colored eggs,
and all those barking dogs folks own--these nubbins once were legs!

But worse than weight and running were wheeled monster metal freaks.
They'd squish a guy.  I know that I'll have nightmares many weeks."

"Not near as much as I"ll have," replied the urban Jack.
"I wish I never took your trail.  You sure can have it back.

Wild coyotes are faster than any urban dog.
There is no fence to stop them.  Two miles is just a jog!

I broke eleven baskets while dodging barbed wire fence,
and lost two dozen choc'late bunnies in sagebrush high and dense.

My toes are full of cactus.  My ears were bit by flies.
I left tracks to all the eggs from stepping in cow pies."

They solemnly shook bunny paws.  Next year they would be glad
to deliver Easter baskets and not brag their trail was bad.

© 1999, Terry Henderson 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Terry told us: In the country, my kids didn't very often have their eggs hidden outside. Partly that was due to weather, and partly it was due to critters that wanted to see what strange things I had put outside.  So it gave me the idea for the difference between urban and rural Easter traditions.



Meadow Mouse's Stomp

They say a mouse can find a hole
no bigger than your thumb,
'n they can crawl through skinny cracks
for just a tiny crumb.

That must be how they find their way
into my house each fall.
So I set traps and poisions out
to stop that vermin crawl.

Now labor'tory mice are fine.
They don't spread germs and fleas.
And usually they're all encaged
behind strong locks and keys.

But when I go down to the shop
to get a can of grain,
when'ere I open up the lid,
I swear I'll go insane.

A blur of motion past my hand,
I jerk it back up quick.
Six beady eyes stare up at me,
grain bellies full and thick.

I go into the saddle room
to bring a halter out.
Destructive critters nearly chewed
through rope that once was stout.

The bulk dog-food in paper sacks
is stacked down in the barn.
There's water stains from meadow mice
that cause disease and harm.

The fencin' truck parked in the shop
all winter sat rest.
Right beside the carburetor
they built a mouse's nest.

At camp, they climb up through the walls.
They keep me up at night.
Will they eventually get through
to where I see starlight?

The tractor's 'lectric wires are bare.
The insulation's gone.
The padding from the seat's ripped out.
The battle lines are drawn.

The hay bale on the bottom row
I had to move today.
A condominium for mice
beneath that hay stack lay.

I was wishing the Pied Piper
would wander down my road,
to gather all these rodents up
and take from my abode.

I called the barn cats to my side.
I called the ranch dogs, too.
I began the Meadow Mouse's Stomp
to rid that motley crew.

It's not a pretty dance to watch.
My feet step high and fast.
But there's no way to get them all.
There's some that do get past.

They quickly multiply like flies.
Their numbers don't abate.
If you want to be a rancher,
then mice will be your fate.

But I will gladly help you out
while mice do freely romp.
I'll give you some short lessons on
The Meadow Mouse's Stomp!

© 2007, Terry Henderson 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Terry told us: My poetry is basically a diary of my ranch experiences, so that includes the everyday things like dealing with mice. Unfortunately for ranchers, I think mice are a common denominator, no matter what part of the country you ranch in. So I wrote it for the frustration that all of us have felt when we find the unpleasant evidence that the mice have taken up residence.


Cursin' the Yearlin's

We began the trail quite early. We were out before the dawn.
The group saddled up the horses, headed out with several yawns.

We spread around the pasture to encircle that young herd.
It was time to move the yearlin's. Of a run, we were assured.

The yearlin’s are like human teens, more energy than sense.
The smallest noise, the slightest move will make them scared and tense.

We made it through the first run and kept them in control.
We settled into trailin’. I rode forward on patrol.

I was lookin’ for stray cattle that might be in the way.
We didn’t want no mixin’ or we’d not get done today.

A couple miles later, the herd headed up a hill.
Quakies grew on either side. The lead began to mill.

Comin’ up before us was a canyon, long and steep.
Just before we got there, in a fog began to creep.

I was ridin’ up on point when I saw the lead steer go.
He headed into aspens and the canyon down below.

My horse responded quickly to head them back uphill.
But the thickened fog around me made my vision nearly nil.

I began to yell my loudest, to scare them to the trail.
They must be turned around or we will lose them in this vale.

“You chigger-headed flea spit! You ig’norant snake-eyed hog.
Turn your rattle headed rock brains ‘round here in this stiflin’ fog.

Git back you scrawny horn fly hosts. Ya’d better find that trail,
‘cause runnin’ down this canyon will come to no avail.

You wand’rin’ sons of Satan. You nightmare’s blackest dream,”
were only some of things I said, to yearlin’s that I screamed.

“You’ll not live to make the mountain top, you crusty leather hides.”
My threatening spread eerily, echoed in from several sides.

The steers slowed their run, more frightened from the noises all unseen,
and the ghostly shapes a movin’ in that pea-soup foggy sheen.

We finally got them headed back and strung along the trail.
An hour later, sun appeared, though misty and still pale.

When we finally reached the cow camp, an old neighbor said to me:
“I don’t believe I ever heard you cuss so angrily.

I don’t believe I’ve ever heard another cowboy say
quite like you did, the things I heard, while trailin’ cows today.

It must’a worked, those things you said, cause we got here with the herd.
Though I admit I felt right creepy when my eyes, by fog, were blurred.

I hope I never have to hear you curse another cow.
I felt real bad a learnin’ I just thought that I knew how.

© 2005, Terry Henderson 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Terry told us: This poem, like most of my poetry, is a diary of my ranch experiences. It was was written in response to the 2005 Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering poster, titled "Bustin’ Loose." I remembered this particular ride when the ranch trailed yearlings, ten miles up Banner Mountain to the summer range. I was the cowboy at cow camp at the time.

The idea to write about my cussing came from the fact that my folks raised me to be a lady, regardless of what I was doing. So when I cuss I just use a little different dialect than the guys do." 


Read Terry Henderson's

A Rancher's Blessing, posted with New Year Toasts to 2009


Christmas Memories, posted with 2008 Christmas poems


Old Santa Won't Come to Our Ranch and The Boy in Sheepskin Shoes, posted with 2005 Christmas poems.



  About Terry Henderson:

My poetry is mostly a diary of my ranching experiences.  I have been a free-lance columnist and cowboy(girl) poet for several years.  I have three chapbooks, numerous anthologies, and several segments of poetry in a Harlequin super romance Southern Reason, Western Rhyme, by Sharon Brondos. Some excerpts of my ranching experience are also in Houghton-Mifflin's anthology, Leanin' Into the Wind.  I have been a regular columnist for my local weekly paper since 1990.

I have been in ranching all of my adult life, except for some college time.  I am a past president of Wyoming CattleWomen, two county CowBelle groups, and the first female to be elected an officer of our county stockgrower group.  I am also on the Board of Directors for the Wyoming Stockgrowers.  I am married to Frank, who just quit being an Extension Agent after 30 years. However, he still isn't home much as he has gone to work for the coal mines and works four days on and four off.  His four days on, he stays at the mine in a fifth wheel.  I think it's mainly to get out of chores!  I spend most of my time working our cow/calf operation, developing a grass-finished beef market and managing my neighbor's ranch.  I am also a mother, five times grandmother, past 4-H shooting sports instructor, graduate of L.E.A.D. class VI (ag leadership) and a rural fireman with an engine boss rating.  I am also the training coordinator for our rural wildland firefighters.  I was appointed this summer to serve on the state FSA committee.  Sometimes I substitute in town for a little extra cash.



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