• On the Back Porch - Jim Cathey, Cowboy Poet
    On the Back Porch - Jim Cathey, Cowboy Poet

Lord Prop Up Our Leanin’ Side

On the Back Porch

My ol’ Daddy once said, “An old barn is like a storyteller. It jogs your memory and plants a question for you to ponder on!”

This week, we will talk about barns. Some are big and some are small. Some are short and some are tall.

In fact, barns do not conform at all, to any pattern known to mankind.

Okay, I will admit there are some similarities, but on the long haul, barns are just different. In my years of traveling rural sections of America and beyond, I have developed a fondness for barns, gates, and windmills. And I have the pictures that will verify that fact. I have been in barns in Texas sheep country where a short man would have to stoop over to keep his head safe. And I have seen barns large enough to park a large plane in.

I have seen barns where you could step into and out of in three good steps and I have seen barns, that at a good brisk walk, you would be in them for a spell. I think that sums up the fact that barns can be and usually are very different.  Some of my favorite barns date back to when I was just a nubbin.

Grandmother Cathey had a low barn that went on forever. It contained grain bins and milking stalls, tack room and horse stalls, and hay storage and the end room was a chicken house. This barn was very mysterious to an adventuresome nubbin.

Uncle Temple Caudle, Grandmother Cathey’s brother, had a similar barn, but his had a blacksmith shop and tool rooms and big corrals outside.  The barn at our home place in Alexander, Texas was unique in that it had a lower portion for hogs and orphaned baby calve that we hand fed,  and a magnificent hay loft where I spent many hot summer days stacking hay. 

It also had side pens and a corral with working chutes and loading chutes. It had been there so long, it drifted to the south just a bit. This drift prompted Dad to install a couple of prop poles to make sure it continued to stay upright. I recently read about a barn and saw its picture and was reminded of our old barn there at the Alexander home place.

The barn belonged to an old gent who was famous for praying, “Lord, prop us up on our leaning side.”

When asked about his choice of words in that prayer, he gave a profound understanding of life as it relates to these everyday scenes. He had used slant poles to prop his barn up so it could continue to serve its purpose.

I am sure each of you has great barn stories to share and I urge you to do so. Life gives us all memories that would make good “barn” stories and I feel that it is our responsibility to at least share these stories with loved ones, especially grandchildren. Many times I have wished that I had listened better or at least asked better questions, because untold stories will fade and then be lost to future generations.

So, prop up your barns or tales about them so that memories live on. Just as God will prop our leanin’ side until our job here on earth is completed and our questions answered.  


Lord Prop Up Our Leanin’ Side

The old gent stared into space,

His thoughts were on what to say,

Then a gentle smile creased his face,

An’ he told it just this way.


Life will bring its ups an’ downs,

 An’ will mold us to who we are,

Do we face it with grins or frowns,

While reachin’ for yonder star?


We tend to get a bit older,

As we travel this ol’ sod, 

Life’s tough, we must be bolder,

And ask for help from our God.


Now see that weathered ol’ barn,

It was built back in twenty-nine,

Giving birth to many a yarn,

Mostly by the Lord’s design.


You see that ol’ barn tends to lean,

‘Cuz  it’s weathered  the strong wind,

Though it’s still there to be seen,

Like a comforting ol’ friend.


‘Cuz I had set some stout poles,

To prop her up so she don’t fall,

Just like God does for our souls,

With His help, we will stand tall!


Through the years, we tend to lean,

But like that barn we have our pride,

Tho somethings are unforseen,

Lord props us up on our leanin’ side.


Some days we lean t’ward pure hate,

An’ bitter t’ward our fellow man,

Somedays we cuss our gainin’ weight,

Or lean t’ward a devious plan.


Leanin’ t’ward what we should not,

Or plumb gripin’ ‘bout our ride,

So, just pray like you’ve been taught,

Lord, prop us up on our leanin’ side!


Lord, thank you for the “Proppin’, and God Bless America!

The Marlin Democrat

251 Live Oak St
Marlin, TX 76661
Phone: (254) 883-2554
Fax:(254) 883-6553