‘Twas the night before Christmas, and out on the ranch,

the dang stock tank froze over, frosted up like a branch.

Muddy boots were stashed away after feeding and checking,

throughout the snow and mud, they had surely been trekking.

The rancher and his family were sound asleep in their beds,

while hopeful visions of spring calves happily danced in their heads.

Down in the creek bottom the cows had all gathered,

protected from wind, but with snow they were slathered.

When down in the barn there arose such a clatter,

the rancher sprang to his feet, to see what was the matter.

Down the long, dark hallway to the mudroom he ran,

grabbing the old shotgun with a sure and steady hand.

The moon was so bright on this cold winter’s night,

giving the rancher a clear view of an unbelievable sight.

Being pulled by a tiny team of more than a single cattle breed,

was a little green tractor, a tiny black angus at the lead.

Not believing his eyes the rancher gasped and blinked,

in the cab of the tractor sat Santa who winked!

A Holstein, a Hereford, a Brahman, and Longhorn!

A Sussex, a Highland, Charolais and Black Angus!

The rancher shook his head at the sight of the cattle,

so tiny, yet perfect, their hooves started to rattle.

“To the top of the windbreak, to the top of the shed!”

“Git along, little dogies, while the kids are still in bed!”

As quickly as tumbleweeds blow o’er the high plains,

they started to run as he called out their names.

Then up to the roof of the shed they all flew,

with a tractor full of toys, and St. Nicholas, too.

He couldn’t believe how quickly they crested the roof,

now stomping and pawing each tiny little hoof

Feeling confused the rancher wondered if he was dreaming,

as St. Nick came down the chimney, his eyes were gleaming.

He was bundled up warmly in dirty overalls and boots,

not like the mall Santas, in red velvet suits.

A feed sack filled with toys was all he could carry,

he looked like an old cowboy, happy and merry.

His face brown and wrinkled it looked just like leather,

his beard long and grey, protected him from weather.

Beneath the long beard you could make out a smile,

even though the old man had been at this a while.

Instead of a pipe held tight in his teeth,

the rancher spied a Skoal® ring, the can tucked underneath.

He had such a jolly face and a beer belly to boot,

it shook when he giggled as he dropped off the loot

He was a chubby ol’ cowboy, but steadfast and strong,

as he got straight to work, he whistled a song.

A song so familiar, the rancher knew it by heart.

Santa winked at him, wanting him to sing the next part.

Trying not to wake his kids, the rancher sang quietly,

“Whoopee ti yi yo” made Santa beam brightly.

And as the old cowboy song came to an end,

it was time to move on to the others he had to tend

He’d filled all the stockings and surrounded the tree,

with toys and treats sure to bring the children glee.

Santa gave one last wink and a final glance,

at this point the rancher was in quite a trance.

Up the chimney he rose to meet his trusty team,

they were patiently waiting under a magical moon beam.

He hopped in the tractor and let out a whistle,

and then they took off, as fast as a missile!

The rancher heard him exclaim as they flew out of site,

“Merry Christmas, y’all, and y’all have a good night!”

By: Candice E. Schlautmann for 82801

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