Soapweed's Ranch Ramblings
The writings of a Nebraska Sandhills cattle rancher!

July 25, 2005

A couple years ago, my dad posted this poem that his dad (my granddad) had written back in the 'forties. He wondered if it would be appropriate to post again, as there are quite a few new readers to these pages. He's even a bit more computer illiterate than I am (it's a hereditary thing), so I'm helping him get it posted. Here goes:

by Bob Moreland

My dad was Jack Moreland (1895-1966). He came to our part of the Sandhills as a school teacher in 1916. He liked what he saw and from that time on had the dream of someday having a balanced Sandhill ranch with pastureland and subirrigated hay meadows. He survived hard times and drought and reached that goal.

The following poem is my favorite and the best known of his many writings. It displays his love and loyalty for this area which has been termed “God’s Cow Country."


by Jack Moreland in 1945

Of all the natural forms of land
Which most appeal to me
The Sandhills are the first domain
For reasons all can see.

In times long past, tradition says,
The hills were barren mounds
With little grass or growing plants
To heal winds daily wounds.

Where fire could run the sod was scorched
And changed again to sand.
Around each lake a rim of grass
Showed work by Nature planned.

In time the herds of buffalo roamed.
The land more fertile grew.
Some lake beds dried to level swamps.
The hills were grassed anew.

Vast regions that were unexplored
Became a paradise
Of ducks and geese and antelope,
Of fish and frogs and mice.

Meanwhile the active brain of man
Was functioning once more.
From Texas came the vast trail herds
Heir to the buffalo lore.

The seasons came the seasons went.
The longhorns had their day.
With bitter storms their fate was sealed
With bones along the way.

An era new, free farms in view,
Brought settlers by the score.
Thin sod was turned, the grassland spurned,
More furrows plowed and more.

But nature knew what she could do.
The winds were loose again.
Man’s foolish plans were blown awry
For lack of soil and rain.

There had been men of different yen
Who held their hay and range,
A few red cows, a few red calves,
Significant of change.

The big outfits had come and gone.
Kinkaiders now were here.
They lived at home or hired out
Then proved up far and near.

The ranches grew, were stocked anew.
Some settlers took deep root,
But in the main, more left than came
With money in the boot.

More rivals now for meadow land,
For streams and sheltered spots.
With little law from outside source
Quick gun play left its blots.

The pattern though was well defined.
Results were on the way.
A ranch was now a balanced deal
Of cattle, range and hay.

The careless ways of days gone by
Gave place to careful thought,
To wire fence, to improved herds,
To purebred sires bought.

With pleasant homes, with barns and sheds,
This business is mature.
What’s better than a Sandhill ranch?
What’s safer or more sure?

The landscape artist has a theme,
Could he but realize
‘Twould make his place in art secure
If he might idealize

The white-faced herds, the meadows green,
The broken silhouette
Of sandy hills and shady groves
The best of nature’s get.






Copyright © 2005 Steve Moreland
All Rights Reserved