Monthly Archives: April 2013


                                                            And nobody knows…or nobody cares…
                                                                  – Wallace McRae (“Things of Intrinsic Worth”)

My blood boiled after reading the April 26, 2013, L.A. Times piece, “In Montana, ranchers line up against coal,” (LA Times) not because Wally McRae is my friend, not because he’s been battling corporate coal miners since the mid-‘80s, but because it sounds so terribly familiar to our own thirteen-year rock and gravel battle on Dry Creek.

On the one side are the corporations, governments, towns and municipalities who expect to benefit from the growth derived from a one-time extraction of value, and they run the show. On the other are the Enviros and a few ranchers doomed to lose a generational livelihood of harvesting the renewable resources of grass and water with cattle. And with the loss of that livelihood, we all lose those elements of character and common sense that can only be acquired with hands-on experience of living with the land—things of intrinsic worth.

It’s really not a political battle of Democrats vs. Republicans, because the two parties are on the same side, because economic growth equates to votes, especially in hard times. Most of us involved in agriculture get paid once a year, and whether building a herd of cows or planting trees, we have to think in longer terms. Corporations think quarterly and local governments are always looking for the quick fix that growth promises, little thinking that after the infrastructure is in place, the opportunities for employment go away, leaving them poorer than before without the economic infusion that came from agriculture based on renewable resources.

Whether fracking in New England, oil exploration in the mid-West, or mining coal in the Powder River Basin, we’re all to blame for ravaging the earth for old energy sources when feasible alternatives are now available. Hauling coal nine miles through Wally’s ranch to be shipped overseas is more than an issue of eminent domain, but rings unpleasantly of Chinese Colonialism to me—but alas, now part of the price of a capitalistic planet.

Wally’s World

 Elko, 2009, by Jeri L. Dobrowski

© 2009 Jeri L. Dobrowski



Please take a moment to read about this battle brewing in southeastern Montana.



LA Times: ‘In Montana, ranchers line up against coal’





Remember that sandrock on Emmells Crick
Where dad carved his name in ‘thirteen?
It’s been blasted down into rubble
And interred with their dragline machine.
Where Fadhis lived, at the old Milar place,
Where us kids stole melons at night?
The’d ‘dozed it up in a funeral pyre
Then torched it. It’s gone alright.
The “C” on the hill, and the water tanks
Are now classified “reclaimed land.”
They’re thinking of building a golf course
Out there, so I understand.
The old Egan homestead’s an ash pond
That they say is eighty feet deep.
The branding corral at the Douglas camp
Is underneath a spoil heap.
And across the crick is a tipple, now,
Where they load coal onto a train.
The Mae West Rock on Hay Coulee?
Just black-and-white snapshots remain.
There’s a railroad loop and a coal storage shed
Where the bison kill site used to be.
The Guy place is gone, Ambrose’s too.
Beulah Farley’s a ranch refugee.

But things are booming. We’ve got this new school
That’s envied across the whole state.
When folks up and ask, “How’s things goin’ down there?”
I grin like a fool and say, “Great!”
Great God, how we’re doin’! We’re rollin’ in dough,
As they tear and they ravage The Earth.
And nobody knows…or nobody cares…
About things of intrinsic worth.

By Wallace McRae



Easy-living where troughs and faucets leak,
where Cottontails lounge in the gooseneck’s
dust and shade with ground squirrels and quail—
Roadrunners pause and pass with limp lizards,

nest bound. A smear of downhill color
horses graze and walk around to water,
the only monkeyflowers left in the dry,
short-cropped grass, a beacon of smells

below the bellied tank bleeding tears
from a shank of hanging moss, reaching
for muddied ground—it drips,
as it dripped for years, crying for repairs.



The ground comes alive with the scurry
of baby squirrels, Bobcats streak
and Ravens feast in the distance, even
the house cat forsakes fresh dirt—impacts

from the infrastructure of gophers
under construction, undermining
lawn and garden—for an easier catch.
Pinchers and tails of scorpions piled

in the guano of bats beneath the eaves
where ants pack the leftovers off—our eyes
are peeled for black widows and snakes—
for easy-living where wild congregates.


                                      Too poor to pay,
                                      Too rich to quit.

                                           – Velvet (“Gunsight Ridge”, 1957)

We tread water in a river of time,
run a ranch, raise cows, write
poetry in the gloaming, you and I—
without the weight of currency
to hold us under, hold us apart.

This evening of light draws the wild
from shady burrows and perches
to perform, to exalt the sky, to dance
with winged grace we emulate—
a brush of words to mark our passing.


Cows and calves are soft
and in the shade by eight,
now that the oaks have leaves—

flat ceilings pruned above
their jumbled silhouettes,
black patches easy to miss

across the empty, short-cropped
field of foxtails turned
a perfect biscuit brown

measured with our eyes
against the coming summer
and distant fall before it might

ever rain, be green again.
They worry not—all
the heavy dread is mine.

OK City – Wrangler Awards




Friday night’s ‘Jingle, Jangle, Mingle’ with ‘Best Fiction’ winner D. B. Jackson





Jody Fuller and Robbin with Wes Studi, 2013 inductee into the Hall of Great Western Performers.





Guy Gillette, Waddie Mitchell and Pip Gillette – 2013 Outstanding Western Composition



Fuller & Fuller – Jody & Robert



The Hamptons





With Lisa Hackett



With Sandra Dallas (2013 Best Juvenile Book) and her husband.



With Robbin and Jody





With Red Steagall



Thanks, Red—

I am thrilled and deeply honored that my poetry has been recognized, a second time, by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. My first Wrangler in 2009 was a real surprise, but it has encouraged me to take my writing more seriously.

I also want to thank the Western Folklife Center and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering for offering a venue for my poetry and a readership for Dry Crik Press, our small press imprint established in 1989. Since that time, Dry Crik Press has published the work of eight different Wrangler Award winners*, including ‘Proclaiming Space’, and brought the likes of Buck Ramsey, Andy Wilkinson, Paul Zarzyski and David Wilke to the Sierra Nevada foothills to share their unique talents with our isolated ranching community.

But most of all, I want to thank my wife Robbin for her love and support, for her hard work and ideas, and for her patience and understanding. I am truly humbled because I didn’t get to this podium by myself.

On behalf of all, we thank you.

2013 Wrangler Award winners


*Dry Crik Press/Dry Crik Review

Buck Ramsey
Andy Wilkinson
Linda Hussa
Linda Hasselstrom
Paul Zarzyski
Walter McDonald
J.B. Allen

OK City – ‘End of the Trail’

Wrangler Awards 2013

Wrangler Awards 2013

Rest assured, Tulare County residents, James Earle Fraser’s ‘End of the Trail’ sculpture is in good hands. James Earle Fraser

Turkey Vultures

March 15, 2013

March 15, 2013

Blow Wives

April 6, 2013

April 6, 2013


                                        Easy, but hungry.
                                             – James Galvin (“What Holds Them Apart”)

Perhaps the rodents first
showed us how to store wild grain,
woodpeckers: tools to improve.

Our larders volunteered
and we became farmers,
builders of things.

The hawk has it on easy-glide
parting grass with his eyes—
like a satellite in space, spying.

Or like sea gulls trailing fishing boats,
a flock of blackbirds rising and falling
around a boy breaking clods

behind the tractor and earth turned
in the vineyard—I wondered
how they knew, how they learned

to follow in the wake of progress,
of our proclaimed genius—
it was easy in those days.