Re-post: The Fence That Me And Shorty Built

Cowboy wisdom that city-slickers can put to work

Here’s a trip back to the poetry corner.  If you’re discouraged about the kind of work that’s available to you currently, you might find this helpful.  Here’s cowboy poet Red Steagall:

Barb wire as a witness

Shorty was here

The Fence That Me and Shorty Built

We’d picked up all the fencing tools
And staples off the road
An extra roll of “bob” wire
Was the last thing left to load

I drew a sleeve across my face
To wipe away the dirt
The young man who was helping me
Was tuckin’ in his shirt

I turned around to him and said,
“This fence is finally done
With five new strands of ‘bob’ wire
Shinin’ proudly in the sun

The wire is runnin’ straight and tight
With every post in line
The kinda job you’re proud of
One that stands the test of time.”

The kid was not impressed at all
He stared off into space
Reminded me of years ago
Another time and place

When I called myself a cowboy
I was full of buck and bawl
I didn’t think my hands would fit
Post augers and a maul

They sent me out with Shorty
And the ranch fence building crew
Well, I was quite insulted
And before the day was through

I let him know that I’m a cowboy
This ain’t what I do
I ain’t no dadgummed nester
I hired out to buckaroo

He said, “We’ll talk about that son
When we get in tonight
Right now you pick them augers up
It’s either that or fight.”

Boy I was diggin’ post holes
Faster than a Georgia mole
But if a rock got in my way
Well I simply moved the hole

So when the cowboys set the posts
The line went in and out
Old Shorty’s face got fiery red
And I can hear him shout

“Nobody but a fool would build
A fence that isn’t straight
I got no use for someone who ain’t
Pullin’ his own weight.”

I thought for sure he’d hit me
Glad he didn’t have a gun
I looked around to find a place
Where I could duck and run

But Shorty walked up to me
Just as calm as he could be
Said, “Son, I need to talk to you
Let’s find ourselves a tree.”

He rolled a Bull Durham cigarette
As we sat on the ground
He took himself a puff or two
Then slowly looked around

“Son, I ain’t much on schoolin’
Didn’t get too far with that
But there’s a lot of learnin’
Hidden underneath this hat

I got it all the hard way
Every bump and bruise and fall
Now some of it was easy
But then most weren’t fun a’tall

But one thing that I always got
From any job I’ve done
Is do the best I can each day
And try to make it fun

I know that bustin’ through them rocks
Ain’t what you like to do
By gettin’ mad you’ve made it tough
On me and the whole crew

Now you hired on to cowboy
And you think you’ve got the stuff
You told him you’re a good hand
And the boss has called your bluff

So how’s that gonna make you look
When he comes ridin’ through
And he asks me who dug the holes
and I say it was you

Now we could let it go like this
And take the easy route
But doin’ things the easy way
Ain’t what it’s all about

The boss expects a job well done
From every man he’s hired
He’ll let you slide by once or twice
Then one day you’ll get fired

If you’re not proud of what you do
You won’t amount to much
You’ll bounce around from job to job
Just slightly out of touch

Come mornin’ let’s redig those holes
And get that fence in line
And you and I will save two jobs
Those bein’ yours and mine

And someday you’ll come ridin’ through
And look across this land
And see a fence that’s laid out straight
And know you had a hand

In something that’s withstood the years
Then proud and free from guilt
You’ll smile and say, ‘Boys that’s the fence
That me and Shorty built’.”

– Red Steagall

Your work is a witness for you or against you.  Commit to doing your best and you can be proud of what your work says about you.

By the way, if you’d like to hear Red Steagall recite this poem, you can watch it here.

So how about you?  How are you remaining engaged and striving to give your best in your current job? Add your comments below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Bring your best manners, please.

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