Where the Woodpecker Knocks On the Door.
William Lawrence Chittenden. Bermuda Verses, 1909.
the place that I feel is so dear,
‘Mongst the coyotes and rabbits and prairie dogs vain,
and methinks it is good to be here,
Where the birds are all singing around on the trees,
and the owls are calling tu-whoo!
Ah, there’s music to me in the soft-sighing breeze,
and the northers are musical, too.
You may talk of the pleasures and joys of the rich,
your oprees and parties so gay,
But I don’t keer a fig fur them things an’ all sich,
fur yer see I ‘m not built thet ‘er way.
Hit don’t make much difference what any one says
’bout the pleasures of life in New York,
But for simon pure pleasure an’ wild nature’s ways,
jest give me my ranch on the Fork.
For here we’re all happy, away from the throngs,
far away in the lone solitudes,
Where the voices of Nature are full of sweet songs,
full of music that matches all moods;
And oft in the morning, the bright Texas morn,
when our dreams of the night are all o’er,
We awake from our slumbers, as sure as you’re born,
by the woodpecker’s knock on the door.
Now, the people out here who attend to the ranch
and rustle the outfit and herds
Don’t put on much style or keer for Long Branch,
but they keer for us boys and the birds.
They are kind to all critters, as you may suppose.
The ‘possums sleep under the house.
The coyotes are friendly, as each chicken knows.
We have prairie dogs tame as a mouse.
The martins are nesting all under the eaves.
The beef steers go nosing around.
The house is wide open. No danger of thieves—
there ‘s nothing to steal that I ‘ve found.
The heelflies make love to the heifers and cows.
The blackbirds just love that old steer.
We ‘re at peace with the world, and away from all rows—
oh, I tell you, we ‘re happy out here!
Yet oft in the summer the rattlesnakes come
to sleep in the shade of the yard;
But the dogs wake them up till their rattles just hum—
ah, the snakegressor’s way is so hard!
Still the best thing of all and the sound that I love
is that music I ‘ve mentioned before;
It is sweeter to me than the song of the dove—
is that woodpecker’s knock on the door.
Oh, this gay speckled bird is an old friend of mine,
for here is just where he was born.
He drinks from the bucket—our water is fine—
and he runs the whole ranch every morn.
He hops to the kitchen, stands in with the cook,
in his knowing old woodpecker way;
But if she don’t feed him, he gives her a look,
and then he just hammers his lay.
“A rap a tap tap, a tap tap a tap tup!”
I must have my breakfast, you see.
You people are lazy. It’s time to get up!
“A rap a tap, tap a tap, tap—tee!”
Oh, I tell you that bird is a knowing old cuss.
He shows it with many a proof;
And he makes a big racket and terrible fuss
when he hammers away on the roof.
“A rap a tap, tap a tap, tap a tap—tit”—
these shingles, boys, never will do.
They are full of wood insects. They’ll have to be split—
“A rap a tap, tap a tap too.”
Yes, I tell you, he knows, that sapsucker bird,
just what that old roof has in store.
Ah me! we have music which you may have heard,
where the woodpecker knocks on the door.
We don’t envy “Teddy” his strenuous strife.
We hope he won’t get in a fix;
But we ‘re stuck on the free easy West Texas life,
far away from machine poly-ticks.
Now, speaking of “ticks”—you know what I mean—
we don’t have those varmints out here.
Though I’ve heered they was kotched down in old Abilene
on a Bar Y C Circle F steer.
Our cattle are healthy. We’re over the line.
Jones County from fever is free.
Our crops are immense. Wheat and cotton are fine,
but the nesters are close herding me.
Now, I am a stockman who has a big range;
but “the man with the hoe” is about.
The country ‘s all fenced. There has come a big change.
The ranchman will have to git out.
The farmers are smiling. There’s plenty of rain.
Our new town of Stamford is grand.
They say that old “Anson will shore git the train”—
and the settlers is wanting more land.
I suppose we will have to gear up and go west,
pull our freight for the foot of the Plains,
Where the prairie dog sneezes and pulls down his vest
and the jackrabbit prays for the rains.
But no matter what happens, wherever we go,
we shall think of old S Forty-Four,
That ranch on old Skin Out—which you perhaps know—
where the woodpecker knocks on the door.
Chittenden’s Ranch, Anson, Tex., April, 1901.
—From Galveston-Dallas News.