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Behind the Grindstone: The Line

By Administrator

December 27, 2023

In times mostly past the large ranches had cabins or line shacks as they were called at the far reaches of their range. A cowboy would stay in these “line shacks” to care for the cattle in these remote areas. It became known as “ridin’ the line.” It was a lonesome job, going weeks or more without seein’ another human being. The lonesome would settle in like a fog and you were left alone with yourself and your thoughts, with no one to talk to except yourself and maybe a dog.

I’ve rode the line for years
Now it appears
They say I’m gettin’ to old

This ride is my last
‘Cause my time, it has passed
And the winters are gettin’ too cold

As he spoke
The dog he awoke
And he reached down and scratched his head

With one cocked ear
As if to hear
Every word the old man said

It’s cold today
But there’s no other way
I’d rather spend it you know

Though it’s cold out here
The Lord draws near
And it’s just now startin’ to snow

But it’s the life I’ve chose
And I suppose
Folks get along in town just fine

Though my bones are old
And sometimes they’re cold
I’d rather die on the line

I’ll gather our tack
And make us a pack
And saddle ‘ole Buck in the shed

It’s twenty below
And startin’ to snow
Let’s go for a ride he said

As spring rolled around
He’s not to be found
Buck and the dogs gone too

His saddle and tack
Are gone from the shack
And it was plain to us who knew

That this ride was his last
‘Cause his time, it was past
Though this was his life and his love

And we all had a fear
Of the news we would hear
As we searched the hills up above

But no body was found
No bones on the ground
Though we searched each day as we rode

A flash in the trees
But it’s only a breeze
He and ‘ole Buck never showed

Now a year has passed
It’s winter at last
And I ride to that old line shack

And there is a note
Someone has wrote
On a piece of brown paper sack

Say’s, All’s goin’ well
From this note you should tell
Me and Buck and the dogs doin’ fine

It’s twenty below
And startin’ to snow
Greetings from here on the line

A little time on the line might benefit all of us.

At least, that’s the view here from behind the grindstone.

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