Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Trail I Walk...


The trail I walk is really only an old cow trail...sometimes just a dusty path made by cattle, and sometimes it is just muddy ruts cut deep by cattle's sharp hooves.  The trail is even, on occasions in the cold months of the year,  covered with snow or ice.

When I write about cattle trails I am reminded of the trails of the old west such as the Chisholm Trail and the Goodnight-Loving Trail.  Oh my, wouldn't that have been something to have seen?  As Ed Bruce wrote in The Last Cowboy Song, "We'll dream tonight of when fences weren't here."    

But, it is a sure fact that I do, indeed, walk where the cattle walk.  They know the best trails, so I just follow those trails, add a few loop-de-loops and there it is ~ Miss Chip's Trail, which is what I first called it.  And, we will just keep hoping that this simple old trail is never covered in concrete as much of the old Chisholm Trail now is. 

I never know what to expect when I head out each morning.  No two days are the same for life goes on and things change, even while we sleep.  Yes, even the trail!  Why, just this morning, Millie and I had to detour around an old fallen log.  It was a dead pine that lightening had struck a few years back.  I knew it would fall one day, so yesterday was the day.

 Hill Top Cowboy's  first paying job, when he was about nine years old, was riding his mare, Dolly, to look after a neighbor's cattle.  He counted them each day and reported back to the owner if  anything was awry.  He earned a dollar a day for the work, if you call riding a spotted pony "work."  He gave the money he earned to his mother to be used to buy things for the family.  He had lost his dad when he was only four years old, so those times were hard ones for his mother who, by herself, raised a family of four children (three sisters besides the young cow poke.)  He says, looking back, that the neighbor probably paid him the dollar a day just to help out the family.  

His story always reminds me of that of Ralph Moody, which he wrote about in Little Britches and Man of the Family.   When we married,  the young cowboy didn't have much to bring along  ~ just  his clothes and two old books.  It's not a hard guess as to what those books were.  Dan had read those books when he was a boy, probably about the time he was riding old Dolly on the neighbor's ranch.  

And, here is the Cow Poke, himself,  now living out his dream, but he has traded in his horse for one of those new-fangled side-by-sides.  It rides a little easier he says, and he's a little closer to the ground.

 "This is the last cowboy song the end of a hundred year waltz
Voices sound sad as they're singing along another piece of America's lost
He'll dream tonight of when fences weren't here

This is the last cowboy song...
Remington showed us how he looked on canvas
And Louie Lamour has told us his tale
And Willie and Waylon and me sing about him
And wish to God we could have ridden his trail

The old Chisholm Trail is covered in concrete now
And they truck 'em to market in fifty foot rigs."

"This is the last cowboy song...
This is the last cowboy song..."

~Ed Bruce

The girls over at Linnie Butts and Company are meeting the Bully Good Skookum dolls for the first time.  Just click on the old sewing machine at the top of the page to join the fun.

Thanks to all for stopping by...


  1. Your photo of the cattle is a beautiful painting... I tried to get a picture of black cattle in a mountain meadow on my way down from our cabin this week, but they left the scene as soon as they saw my unfamiliar shape 50 yards distant. Oh, well, I have their picture in my mind, and they were beautiful in the green meadow, with wildflowers in the foreground.

    I love those cowboy songs! I wasn't familiar with "The Last Cowboy Song"; it's pretty sad!

  2. Oh, what a bittersweet post! I had the privilege to see some ruts of the Oregon Trail, up near Santa Fe. You can see them so plainly still. All those dreams and dreamers, what guts those people had, and the horses and mules and oxen and dogs trotting along probably dreamt, too, of rest and the end of the trail! I love the "mule" your husband is "riding," they have made them street legal here (!) and I guess I have been dreaming, too, of getting one!

  3. Love this post. I grew up on a ranch and it hits a chord. Thank you.

  4. Such beautiful pictures. Yes things are changing and sometimes not always for the good

  5. Even here, up behind the cabin, there is an old cow trail that I used to walk, sit on the large rocks when tired, and pick an apple when in season from nearby trees. It was a wonderful place to be alone for a while. Of course this post really struck my imagination and especially seeing the former cow-poke riding his new way without having to cool down and dry out his mount before putting it away in the barn. I love your photos!

  6. The dreams those early pioneers must have had on those beautiful trails and of course the hardships endured. A very thought provoking post.

  7. What awesome photos and such a lovely trail to walk. This is a great post and reminds me of the old west.

  8. Special post-I really enjoyed it

  9. A beautiful place to take your daily walk.
    Sometimes I follow the deer trails here at Happy Trails.

  10. That neighbour that paid Hill Top Cowboy a dollar a day to count his cattle must have been a very thoughtful man. You're probably right, that he did that to help the family without it being very obvious.
    I was always amazed that cows follow one another and use the same paths daily eventually creating a trail that stays for a very long time even after the cows have gone.

  11. I was raised on a farm too and I know about the paths the cattle would wear into the fields. It amazed me that they would never deviate from those trails no matter what. It was almost as though they were afraid that something might hurt them if they stepped off. Not only that, but they had a 'lead cow' and heaven help any of the others if they tried to get ahead of her in line.

  12. My goodness Mary, what a wonderful post! I enjoyed every word. You mentioned in a comment on my post that your husband's dad died whe was four. My husband's mother had it pretty rough too, raising five children on her own. Dan went to work at age 14 and has never stopped. He gave money to his mom also to help out. He picked peaches in the summer, and worked in a little grocery store after school every day. Have to admire men like ours, don't you? Do you walk in the pasture with the cows? I've always been afraid of cows, thanks to my mom. :)

  13. I like "The Last Cowboy Song" :-) You have a beautiful trail to walk. How nice of those bovines to clear a path for you.

  14. Your photos are so incredibly beautiful...especially the one of the! And your words are equally beautiful...and evocative. Your post immediately put me back to my "growing up" days on the farm. I know well the cow trails as it was my "job" to bring the cows in for the evening milking. Many times I still wonder if their trails are still there even though it has been more years than I care to count and the farm has been long abandoned. Thanks for the dose of nostalgia and bittersweet memories. ~Robin~

  15. I couldn't have said it better than The Cranky Crow did-your pictures are amazing, and your writing is too. I'm thankful for my early years on our farm and how well I remember those cow paths! Of course the cow pies along the paths were always interesting-careful not to step on one!! Give Millie a hug for me!

  16. I am glad that I found your contribution ... thank you very much ... so wonderful ... I listen to you Ed Bruce & Willie Nelson with the cowboy song ... thank you, your pictures and your contribution are wonderful.
    Isn't it wonderful to blog as it connects people from continent to continent. Let yourself be hugged and enjoy yourself.
    Have a god time. Viola

  17. Oh gosh I remember the dairy cow trails on my grandparents farms. Nowadays here in Michigan the trails created are bike trail of asphalt connecting one town to another all across our state. Sometimes I just think it is too much. Don't think we need that many. Janice

  18. I have tried to write about cow paths before and can never get it to come out like I want it to wound. How they find a easy route, but they get where they want to go. They never climb straight up a steep hill, but wander along and just gradually climb...and they get to where they want to go.

    Sounds like you could write a story about your husband's life, or even it would be fun to read yours and his.

  19. This post is so beautiful. My husband loves westerns and anything a"cowboy" Your photos are so pretty!

  20. Such a wonderful post! I love your photos!

  21. I love reading your stories of walks and everyday life.