Cowboy laundry |

Cowboy laundry

Yvonne Hollenbeck

With calving season just around the corner, folks in this area are beginning to prepare for what cattlemen call their “harvest season.” The Black Hills Stock Show is always an excellent venue for learning of new and improved items to assist ranchers such as calving chutes, calf pullers, tagging systems, and high-tech surveillance equipment for the barn. Ranchers are beginning to prepare their facilities for the big event as their wives prepare for the worst job of the year to befall them…that being the dreaded calving season laundry.

Cowboy poets, Baxter Black and Rodney Nelson have both frequently performed poetry each has penned about this subject and their audiences seem to find them quite entertaining. However, it seems the menfolk enjoy their poems more than the women, especially women from farms and ranches who have experienced the task involved.

I’m certain that if one was to poll all farm and ranch women in our area as to the most dreaded job they have ever faced, handling calving season laundry would probably rank up there with running the gate in the sorting pen, or pulling the husband on a tractor that refuses to start. Doing calving season laundry would possibly top the list.

Due to the fact that I consider myself an advocate for a rare and endangered species called “ranch wives,” I felt compelled to write an answer to Baxter and Rodney’s poems.


Baxter and Rodney have both written poems

about laundry that they have created,

but let me assure you, from their wives point of view,

their descriptions are well understated.

There should be awards, like “Tide’s Purple Heart,”

for the women that are put to the test

of handling the filthiest items on earth;

perhaps the worst job in the West.

It might be a prolapse, or pulling a calf,

whatever the job that needs done;

part of the remnants end up on their clothes,

like urine, blood, guts, and dung.

You should lock the door and not let them come in,

but most of us gals aren’t that bold

to make them strip down out there in the yard,

‘cause usually the weather’s too cold.

So here they come in; you stand there in horror

and hope that you don’t have the luck

of having to help them strip out of those clothes

‘cause sometimes a zipper gets stuck

in those filthy old Carhartts;

then you recall how you fell for this guy.

Your mom tried to warn you about cowboy life

and now you can understand why.

You use a broom handle to pick up the mess

and you hope that it stays on the stick.

It’s a balancing act that can be pretty hard

because those garments are slimy and slick.

Stench fills the air; you choke and you gag

as you head for the washing machine.

You’re leaving a trail that drips on the floor

…on a floor that this morning was clean.

You dump in some Clorox, a half-cup of soap

and the poor old machine goes to work.

It takes several washings and still they’re not clean;

it’s enough to make ranch wives berserk.

In the meantime you’re trying to clean up the mess

that was tracked in or dripped on the floor,

‘cause doing the laundry that blessed you today

is only but one minor chore.

Even the broom handle reeks from the smell

so you spray it and wash it down good.

There’s blood on the door knobs, inside and out,

and heaven knows what’s on the wood.

Then fresh from the shower he appears on the scene;

says, “I’d help you if I thought I could,

but the smell of that Pine-sol about makes me croak”,

…and you’re starting to wish that he would.

So, if your daughter is wanting to marry a cowboy

and the thought has you folks in a quandary,

the best way that I know to help change her mind

is just show her some cowboy laundry!