Gwen Peterson: In a Sows Ear 8-27-12 |

Gwen Peterson: In a Sows Ear 8-27-12

In one’s brief time on this earthly coil it behooves one to harvest warm memories. This past weekend, I reaped bushels — enough to keep joy in my heart for as long as I remain on top of the grass. I’m speaking of the 27th Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Lewistown, Mont. There were so many outstanding aspects, it’s difficult to wrap a report in mere words.

To quote one individual who never misses the Gathering, it’s a time to “renew a lot of once-a-year friendships and make new friends as well.” For us cowboy poets and pickers, it’s like a huge family reunion. Howdy’s, handshakes, hugs and kisses aplenty. It’s a three-day soak in a bathtub of warmth.

Two workshops added extra excitement to the Gathering. Darrell Stevenson presented a slide show about establishing the Stevenson Sputnik Cattle Ranch in Russia. Imagine a stretch of ground three or four times the size of the entire USA and none of it fenced. A cow could travel from Russia to Poland with nothing to stop her except a cowboy on a horse.

Darrell told stories of the cultural differences, the language barriers, the thick layers of frustrating bureaucratic red tape, the incredible management details. He kept the seated audience and the hundred or so standing-room-only listeners enthralled. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read about or hear Darrell speak, take time out to do so. Darrell Stevenson and his Montana cowboys have turned a dream into a reality that will change the world. He started with 1,434 cattle shipped in 2010. Last year, that number increased to 4,000 and 4,500 more are on order.

“Success does not take a genius; it just requires the persistence of a glacier … Remember, often it is not ability, it’s reliability. The world is run by those who show up.”
~ Baxter Black

The other electrifying workshop was presented by the cowboy’s cowboy — that gloriously incorrigible head of the “cowboy family” — Baxter Black. He’s gone and written another book titled: “Lessons From A Desperado Poet …How to Find Your Way When You Don’t Have A Map, How To Win The Game When You Don’t Know The Rules, and When Someone Says It Can’t Be Done, What They Really Mean Is THEY Can’t Do It.”

This book is a keeper and nearly impossible to review because every romp-stomping word is a gem. To quote a bit of the jacket blurb: “Part memoir, part how-to, all Baxter Black, Lessons from a Desperado is a humorous, witty take on making a living by doing the right thing and trying everything.”

Quoth Black: “Success does not take a genius; it just requires the persistence of a glacier … Remember, often it is not ability, it’s reliability. The world is run by those who show up.”

“… a story of continuously overcoming the odds, Lessons from a Desperado Poet leaves a trail of self-improvement and motivational tortilla crumbs that readers will follow with delight — before, that is, squirreling them away in their own cerebral pockets for later use.”

Naturally, Baxter headlined the 27th Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering night show with his laugh-till-your-sides hurt poetry, startling antics and wry wit. He’s easy to find. Go to and there he is.

Do you have a bucket list? I do. My latest addition to said list is to throw a huge whingding starring Baxter Black. Make it a roaring, thunderous rousing tribute to our cowboy culture. Proceeds to benefit the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. Now, isn’t that a good idea? Can it be done? Watch this space to find out.. ❖

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