Part of the Mare Herd at the 4DH Ranch in Oklahoma. For More Works by Debra Coppinger Hill Click Image.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I dislike boiled beets, don’t care for fish, detest okra and despise zucchini in any form. I have an aversion to cats in the house, dislike mean-spirited creatures both two and four legged, abhor snakes and loathe a liar. My one and only true hate is ants.

Ants are sneaky and appear out of nowhere. One day you place a lovely cake on the counter under glass and the next morning it will be covered with ants. Ants are un-repentant and never show remorse. They get into everything and just keep coming no matter what you do to get rid of them. So far this summer I have spent several hundred dollars on various sprays, bombs, sprinkles and liquid feeds with no tangible results. We created a border all the way around the house and in the yard all to no avail.

The liquid was particularly disappointing as I had used it before and it had worked quite well. This time the box read ‘new and improved’; that should have been a clue that it would not work this time. Not only did it not work, it attracted more ants than I have ever seen in my life. And you can think I’m crazy, but I swear it makes them hyper. The more they drank the more active they got. It was like they were downing an energy drink! They no longer trudged along like ants are prone to do, they didn’t even scurry as they will when disturbed. No, they ran, full blast like a huge herd of tiny race horses across the cabinet and down the walls.

We find them in the kitchen, the bathroom where they love to crawl all over our tooth-brushes and on the recliners in the living room. They even invaded my steam iron and were only discovered when they boiled up out of it when I turned on the iron to do a starched shirt.

I did not want to spray poison inside the house, particularly on or around my kitchen counter tops and cabinets. While researching ‘natural’ alternatives for killing ants on the internet I came across an article recommending the use of white vinegar. Eureka! White vinegar would not harm my pets or family. It could be used directly on the cabinets and sprayed from a pump bottle on the little demons themselves. For a week now I have been spraying. I even got so bold as to bait them with brown sugar in a plastic lid and spray them while they ate. Happily I sprayed and washed down my cabinets. (It supposedly discourages them from walking there and confuses their scenting for their trail back to the nest.) Spraying it directly on them it does a pretty good job of killing them. Other than that it has done little other than make my entire house smell like a huge barrel of pickles. And they just keep coming!

They have gotten so out of hand that I am taking any and all suggestions for getting rid of them. Methods showing no mercy are preferred as I have extreme revenge in mind. I had purchased one lovely orange scone that I intended to have with a cup of good Irish tea. I don’t have to tell you what made their way up two shelves and into a closed bread box where they attacked and devoured said scone, do I?

Beth suggested maple syrup and borax. After more research I found that apparently the borax helps to kill the ants and those in the nest they share with. It’s worth a try I suppose. It has to smell better than the vinegar, and how much more hyper can they get on maple syrup as opposed to the liquid ant feed or the brown sugar?

I would go on but I am off to the store to get the ingredients for the maple syrup and borax ant potion. I can’t believe I am going to the store at two o’clock in the morning to buy real maple syrup for a bunch of ants when it is never in the budget for us humans. Hey Beth, you didn’t say, do I have to make them pancakes too?

Contact Debra Coppinger Hill at ridingdrag.info@gmail.com
Become a fan of riding drag on Facebook and at http://ridingdrag.blogspot.com

RIDING DRAG with DEBRA COPPINGER HILL is featured each week at ALWAYS COWBOY where Debra is a Resident Western Poet. Join her and her Cowboy Friends for Cowboy Poetry, News & Events. http://alwayscowboy.net/debra_coppinger_hill_poetry.html

Monday, August 16, 2010


The very best part about performing Cowboy Poetry is all the great people I get to meet. I had several people tell me “you need to meet Teresa Burleson; you are two peas in a pod”. I was already a fan of her work and once we met I became one of her admirers and I am proud to say one of her friends. Two peas in a pod? In many ways yes. We love the same kinds of poetry, horses, people and we both write. Writing is a special kind of insanity and it takes a special kind of friend to understand the need, the desire, to write what you know and feel.

When I read her poetry I feel a kinship. I know that she knows what she is talking about. She has grown up cowgirl and lives cowgirl each and every day. In her poem ‘Cowgirl Way’ I feel she speaks for most other cowgirls out there today.

“I can raise an orphan calf, raise a garden and even raise a child,
And I might climb on a colt that most would think too wild.

My hands may be rough and calloused from the chores I do each day.
But my heart is still soft and tender cause that's the cowgirl way.

And I like for a feller to tip his hat, let me go first and open up my doors,
But I am not helpless or fragile and I can saddle my own horse.

I make a good pardner, not a possession or something that you own,
And I think for myself, so don’t try to boss me, I’m a cowgirl fully grown.

I have strength and it comes from a pride in what I stand for, who I am and what I do.
And because no matter which trail I choose to ride the Lord is ridin’ right there too.”

It is this kind of poetry that has garnered Teresa the honor of being chosen the Academy of Western Artists Will Rogers Award for 2010 Cowgirl Poet of the Year. She shared the exciting news Saturday. I have spent the last couple of days trying to come up with some way to tell her how proud I am to be her friend and how happy I am that she is going to receive this Award. I know how special this award is; I received it in 2002.

Ever gracious, Teresa posted this when she found out she had been honored with the award. “I have had so many blessings in my life but in the last few weeks God has just poured out the blessing on me! My new job and being selected as the Academy of Western Artists 2010 Cowgirl Poet of the Year. I am continually blessed by the awesome friends He has put in my life. My wonderful family. All the great opportunities God has opened up for me. Sometimes I think I am dreaming! I don't deserve all this!”

That’s the other thing I like about Teresa, she praises God for all the blessings in her life. I find it most appealing that she is humble about her talents and gives credit where credit is due. That is why I want her to know that yes, she does deserve all the blessings God has bestowed upon her. She deserves it all because she is loyal to her Faith, her family and her friends. And she deserves it if for no other reason, than she blesses us each time she writes and recites a new poem or sings us a song that honors and preserves our Western ways. Congratulations Cowgirl, you’re the best!


*Contact Debra Coppinger Hill at ridingdrag.info@gmail.com

*To read Teresa Burleson’s poem ‘Cowgirl Way’ go to the Cowboy Poetry section at http://AlwaysCowboy.net/teresa_burleson.html While you’re there click on the link at the top of the page and read her column/blog ‘Chasing Tumbleweeds’ for some great stories and cowgirl observations.

RIDING DRAG with DEBRA COPPINGER HILL is featured each week at ALWAYS COWBOY where Debra is a Resident Western Poet. Join her and her Cowboy Friends for Cowboy Poetry, News & Events. http://alwayscowboy.net/debra_coppinger_hill_poetry.html

Above: Debra Coppinger Hill
Below: Teresa Burleson
Horse Crazy!

Monday, August 9, 2010


He pulled into our drive here at the 4DH mid-afternoon Saturday. It’s been almost ten years since he was here last but we talked like it was yesterday. He makes a living on the road as a singer/musician and is one of the best songwriters I know. Call them Cowboy songs, Folk or Americana, he sings songs about the real people he meets along the way. Each and every song is filled with his keen observations.

Traveling 4 months at a time across the U.S. sharing songs and stories, he is one of the last true traveling troubadours. We put him up for the night and in return he performed a house concert for us and our friends. We ate, listened to him play guitar and sing his original songs and we learned American history and trivia about those he writes about. The evening left us all a little wiser about our distant neighbors and a little more reflective about how we are really not so different after all.

Sunday morning we took him to breakfast at the truck stop where we chatted and people-watched. After breakfast we said good-bye in the parking lot to the sounds of big trucks and traffic. It reminded me of the lyrics of one of his songs where he wrote of meeting an old Cowboy in a truck stop. His song ‘Never Come Again’ was featured in Oklahoma in 1997 at the dedication of the last trail marker set as a memorial along the old Chisholm Trail. Below is an excerpt from this exceptional song.

As I watched him drive away it occurred to me that there is a song about him out there on the wind and somewhere along the road the lyrics will write themselves. Thank you, Kerry Grombacher, for your gift of music. Travel safe and remember there is always a meal and bed with your name on it in our home.

“Then his eyes they turned an inward gaze just like you might have seen
If you'd looked at the boarded storefronts on the streets of Abilene
And his leathered hands were chapped and raw from the years they'd held the reins
And he rode the cattle trails again in the silence of his dreams

In his dream the range was wide and free, there was room enough for all
Springs were running clear again and the grass was sweet and tall
You could ride to the horizon and your path was straight and true
And a man's word was his bond then and his name was all you knew

I could taste the dust he raised when he rode the Chisholm Trail
Pushing cattle into Kansas where the prairie met the rail
I could feel the loneliness, and, Lord, I knew the pain
And time that passed the cowboy by will never come again
Never come again - never come again”

*From more about Kerry Grombacher/ http://www.kgrombacher.com/

©Debra Coppinger Hill/ http://alwayscowboy.com

RIDING DRAG with DEBRA COPPINGER HILL is featured each week at ALWAYS COWBOY where Debra is a Resident Western Poet. Join her and her Cowboy Friends for Cowboy Poetry, News & Events. http://alwayscowboy.net/debra_coppinger_hill_poetry.html


There are halters on the hat rack,
  pink-eye medicine in the fridge,
In the breadbox is a feather,
  found in the rocks below the ridge.

On the shelf above the washer
  is a collection of small stones,
And another pile of bigger rocks
  calls the basket on my dresser home.

On the front porch is a flower pot
  filled with rust we have found,
Bits and rings and hames caps,
  that boil up from the ground.

Old silverware in a vase,
  found in the old barn in a stall,
Along with those three hay hooks
  hanging on the kitchen wall.

Horse show ribbons here and there,
  a door stop that’s a Mangum brick.
Barbed wire rolled into a wreath
  and decorated with cedar sticks.

Chaps and spurs hang everywhere,
  boots clutter the entryway floor,
City visitors often comment on
  our lovely western décor.

We can’t help but laugh out loud,
  because it strikes us as funny,
Décor is what you find in magazines
  and costs tons of money.

There’s nothing fancy about this house,
  it’s filled with memories end to end.
Mementoes we find here and there,
  that remind us where we’ve been.

We are over-run with things
  we use from day to day,
We sit on passed down furniture
  ‘cause recycling is the Cowboy way.

What makes a place into a home
  is laughter and love all the while.
And I’ll tell everyone we decorate
  in Eclectic Cowboy style.

Contact Debra Coppinger Hill at ridingdrag.info@gmail.com
RIDING DRAG with DEBRA COPPINGER HILL is featured each week at ALWAYS COWBOY where Debra is a Resident Western Poet. Join her and her Cowboy Friends for Cowboy Poetry, News & Events. http://alwayscowboy.net/debra_coppinger_hill_poetry.html


Once upon a time at a Cowboy Gathering far way from Oklahoma I had the wonderful good fortune of meeting Tom and Kristy Hanshew. Over time they have earned the title of ‘Friemly’; that being those people who are friends who through love and loyalty have become family. Tom is a wonderful sing and songwriter of Cowboy songs, a horseman and a great poet. I wanted to share one of my favorites with you. I also want to say “Thanks Tom and Kristy for always being there. You are our Friemly in the truest sense of the word!”


He stepped out of his pickup truck and walked over to the corral
I watched him out of the corner of my eye standing quiet and tall
When I finished saddling up the colt I looked him up and down
He looked like a cowboy although he had just come from town

It wasn't in the way he dressed but he was wearin' a hat and boots
Or the fancy yoke cut Cowboy shirt that fit him kind of loose
His jeans were creased and ironed and looked like they was new
But when I looked him in the eyes I saw that he was true

The soft quiet determination that reveals that common bond
And only a life with horses can make them look that warm
You see it at the rodeos on the older men who've lived the dream
It's like the cool clear mountain run off that gently fills a stream

He nodded and I could see the appreciation shinin' in his eyes
As he watched the colt I was working stand quietly and sigh
They say that the eyes of a man are the windows to his soul
A lot of folks are smarter than me and I guess they ought to know

True horsemen know and recognize the calm even in a storm
How love and quiet compassion can keep you safe from harm
No it's not the way you wear your hat or a shiny buckle's glow
It's in the heart and soul of Cowboys that their eyes always show

Many years ago there was a man that I loved and knew well
He said if you look a man in the eyes you can always tell
He may lie to you using words or trick you with his hands
But his eyes will always give him away capturing the man

A lifetime spent with horses teaches calmness in your soul
A oneness with god and nature like things honest and old
Grandpa always had that look and my dear old daddy too
In their eyes you could tell they were cowboy through and through

Now as I look at this man I see the same look in his eyes
That same quiet strength that I know and recognize
And my heart fills with pride as I look and understand
I see the eyes of a Cowboy in my son growed into a man.

© Tom Hanshew  http://www.trailboss-tom-hanshew.com/
Debra Coppinger Hill http://alwayscowboy.com (Tom will be joining us soon with pages on Always Cowboy.)

RIDING DRAG with DEBRA COPPINGER HILL is featured each week at ALWAYS COWBOY where Debra is a Resident Western Poet. Join her and her Cowboy Friends for Cowboy Poetry, News & Events. http://alwayscowboy.net/debra_coppinger_hill_poetry.html


This week’s project is gutting the mobile home on the east rise and getting it ready for our daughter and her husband to use as a location for their dog grooming business. This is not just a slap a little paint, cosmetic make-over; it is a full blown, rip out the floors and plumbing deal. It seems like the list of supplies goes on forever, as does the list of things that need to be fixed. I look at as a practice session as I intend to rip out our own kitchen later and redo the floors and plumbing in it.

You learn a lot when you are re-doing a building in a major way. You learn that everyone has different ideas as to how things should be done, where to cut corners and what decorative touches should be used. Fortunately we all seem to be in agreement so things are running smooth in that direction. I have come to the conclusion that hard physical work makes for good companions. It seems when everyone is hot and tired and sweaty things run smooth. No one has the energy to argue and any small gesture (such as bringing someone a bottle of water when you fetch one for yourself) is appreciated. Common courtesy becomes the rule of the day if for no other reason than this summer heat rules us and we must be kind or explode…literally.

Yesterday as the sweat rolled off my forehead into my eyes I was reminded of a little something my Dad and Grand-dad use to say, “Rich people pay to sweat like this.” They spend money on gym memberships, fitness equipment and personal trainers to get the same results as we are getting for free. I just have to keep reminding myself how truly lucky I am!

“Rich people pay to sweat to pay like this”
  my Grand-dad used to say.
I didn’t understand what he meant,
  but I figured it out today.

One hundred and five degrees outside
  with a heat index of one hundred twenty,
Pushes the body to its very limits
  of producing sweat a-plenty.

Beads of sweat ran down my back
  off my forehead into my eyes,
I’m soggy down to my boots,
  so it comes as no surprise;

To suddenly realize that being rich
  is not measured in fine clothes and cash,
It’s measured in gallons of sticky sweat
  and a head to toe heat rash.
So as I say my prayers tonight
  my Grand-dad’s words I’ll heed,
And take a moment to thank for Lord
  for making me truly rich indeed.

Contact Debra Coppinger Hill at ridingdrag.info@gmail.com


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ RIDING DRAG with DEBRA COPPINGER HILL is featured each week at ALWAYS COWBOY where Debra is a Resident Western Poet. Join her and her Cowboy Friends for Cowboy Poetry, News & Events. http://alwayscowboy.net/debra_coppinger_hill_poetry.html


For as long as we have been married I have driven a hay truck every July while my husband and his friends have bucked hay onto the trailer. Several summers ago we started using more round bales and the gathering of square bales became a several day job as opposed to a several week event. This year, we made a move to round bales only. Instead of extreme manual labor this only involves trips up and down the road from Jean and Ronnie’s place where we purchase the hay.

This year also, we won’t be mowing our own place as we have decided to rest the pastures for a year and do some reseeding. When we made this decision the grass was bare in spots and over-run looking. Since that time it has rained on a very regular basis and we have Bermuda, bluestem and prairie mix hay standing hip deep to me…all 5’1” of me that is. Though this may not sound impressive you must understand that it is so thick I must pick my feet up as high as I can in order to move through it; but, more about this later.

I thought I might miss driving the hay truck; I get a tan, am in charge of the radio and usually lose 10-15 pounds in the heat, and I didn’t miss it until I started reminiscing. The other thing I always liked about driving was when my children were very small they were trapped in the truck with me. They had jobs appropriate to age; one was in charge of the water and ice, the other in charge of keeping the towels cold and wet for the crew to use for wiping their faces and keeping cool. To pass the time we sang and told stories and laughed and learned to yodel along with Jean Prescott and Devon Dawson and to do a Tarzan yell. Very seldom did they complain about being stuck in the truck because they were part of the crew and having responsibilities and being one of the hands was important; even more so at pay time. In return for hard work they got paid a penny for every bale gathered and put in the barn and bonus.

One year when my husband was working in the Gulf and my neighbor’s husbands where overseas, we formed our ‘Odd-Crew’ of two mid-forty women, one 30 year old woman, two twelve year old boys, a ten year old girl, a three year old and an eight month old. That year my daughter learned to drive a hay truck, just like I did at ten. My son and his friend learned to pack the layers on the trailer and in the barns and we ladies bucked hay. The three year old was in charge of water and the eight month old babbled along with the radio while chewing a wet towel and together we put up 2700 bales in 105 degree heat. I knew the prospect of ever doing this again was also something I would not miss.

However, the last couple of weeks felt strange to me. Each time I pass a meadow where they are laying down hay I look to sky in all directions for clouds, check the temperature on the thermometer in the truck and estimate how long it will be until the hay is dry enough to bale. Something cries out to me at 4 a.m. and says, “Get up! There is hay to make!” I lay there wide awake unable to go back to sleep as an old dedication to duty to the pasture calls my name.

I finally figured out that it is not the hard work I am missing…it is the working together as a family to make sure our animals would have enough to make it through the winter on full rations. Animals never want here; it is part of what makes us good stewards to see that no animal or human goes hungry on our place. We now have time on our hands that we have never had at this time of year and we feel odd because of it.

We turned the mares out in the west pasture. Usually it has been kept without animals for the last several months to give the grass the opportunity to rest and grow for hay season. Husband opens the gate and the horses charge out and dash towards the hill; but they don’t run for long. Heads drop and they eat, making their way slowly up the incline to the big pond. Husband notices blackberries higher up and after procuring feed buckets, water and hats, we venture to the top of the hill where we pick, one for the bucket, one for the mouth. From above the big pond we watch our herd of mares graze and we wonder at the depth of the grass as all we see are tips of ears sticking out above the thick green stems. The bay mare Bunny wanders over to touch my three year old grandson on the head as she always does, making sure he is alright among the blackberry spreaders. He feeds her berries from his bucket and laughs.

I am suddenly over taken with a great sadness. It occurs to me that in buying round bales I am denying him a part of his heritage. He is three and should be in charge of the water. When he is ten who will teach him to drive the hay truck in the pasture? How will he ever learn to yodel or do a Tarzan yell? And how will he ever come to understand that responsibility is something you learn and earn, as you work your way up through the ranks of the crew?

Because we have time, we pick bucket after bucket of berries and when we are done we make deliveries of berries to the older men who used to come here to pick them with my late Father. We drive over to Mother’s and jump in the pool to rid ourselves of chiggers and grass-itch. Hoss (grandson) learns to jump from the side of the pool into the arms of PawPaw (Husband) and we applaud. Because we have time we will stop and eat ice-cream on the way home.

Tomorrow we will start moving the round bales home. I will drive one truck and trailer and Husband will drive the other. We will make about 15 trips back and forth 7 miles each way. Hoss will ride with me and be in charge of the water and I will play Jean Prescott and Devon Dawson CDs and we will yodel along with them. When he is ten, I will teach him to drive in the pasture, across the low-water creek crossing, through another pasture and up the hill to pick black-berries, one for the bucket, one for the mouth, one for our older friends. We will watch the horses eat deep grass and because there is time, from the top of our world we will sit on the tail-gate of the truck and Tarzan yell!

Contact Debra Coppinger Hill at ridingdrag.info@gmail.com

RIDING DRAG with DEBRA COPPINGER HILL is featured each week at ALWAYS COWBOY where Debra is a Resident Western Poet. Join her and her Cowboy Friends for Cowboy Poetry, News & Events. http://alwayscowboy.net/debra_coppinger_hill_poetry.html