We can only visualize the trials of our forefathers faced

I moseyed in for a haircut last week and I was overdue. I have never been partial to taking time out to do that chore. But when that hair starts flopping down over my eyes and tickling my ears, I can only take so much. 

So, who do I call? None other than Sharon at Sharon’s Hairstyles. She is good at working us in. 

When I sat down, she made the comment that I had let my hair get pretty long this time and she would have to work harder to get this job done. Then I tell her that now she will have to earn her keep. Well sir, that brings a chuckle, and she said that I should put that in a poem. So, Sharon, this one is for you.      

Looking back through the years to a time that had none of today’s modern conveniences, we can only visualize the trials our forefathers endured. Yes, times have changed from what they were when my Granddad, Papa Hop, grew up. 

A time when a cowboy’s workday was at least sun-up to sun-down seven days a week, when they could get a job!  And their pay was food and a place to sleep and maybe twenty to thirty dollars a month. And many times, that job ended as winter came on. But in our modern world, a normal workday is nine to five and only four days per week. Yet today, just as yesteryear, we are expected to do the job. Another way to say this is, “we must earn our keep!”


Earn Your Keep

He’d rode into town to hire a bunch of hands,

Musta been ‘bout a half-dozen,

There was me an’ a lad named Zeke as it stands,

Other fellers just a buzzin.’


There was Red, an’ Cotton, he was good with a horse,

An’ Ezra from God knows where,

An’ the foreman hoped we would not cause him remorse,

Ezra just had a blank stare!


Said cowboys get their food an’ a place to sleep,

They are expected to do their work

So that every hand must earn his keep,

Whatever the job, they must not shirk!


Said he had a bait of work needed to be done,

An’ he hoped we were up to the task,

Then we headed for the ranch straight into the sun,

‘Bout our pay, no one would ask.


We got to the headquarters pert near at dark,

The foreman sent us in for grub,

That ol’ cook, made a sort of mean remark,

‘Bout warshin’ up in the tub.


The foreman told us to do what the cook said,

That his bark was harmless enough,

An’ that he always put out a purty good spread.

That he just tended to act tough.


At first light we was back, tho we warshed up good,

Found the coffee black an’ strong,

That each man must clean his plate was understood,

For the day would be hard an’ long.


Red, Cotton, Zeke, and me was used to hard work,

But Ezra lacked any work skills,

And his poor showin’ flat drove the boss berserk,

There seemed to be a clash of wills.


The boss come up with a dozen types of job,

Just tryin’ to help Ezra out,

But on each one of those jobs, Ezra would play hob,

The boss gave up without a doubt!


The chance of Ezra makin’ a hand was slim,

He had to know just where he stood,

 Ezra’s chances, what ones they was, were very dim,

The boss tried as best he could.


It doesn’t matter what job you’re doing today,

Even when the trail gets a bit steep,

Give it your best effort an’ work for your pay,

Do what it takes to earn your keep!


An’ that’s what it takes as you travel this sod,

Whether it be north, south, east, or west,

We’ve been given a gift by the Grace of God,

Yet He expects you to do your best!


But wait my friend, as we think of life an’ such,

An’ the rewards that you might reap,

Not through your effort, but with heavenly touch,

The death of Jesus earned your keep!

© Ol’ Jim Cathey 


Ephesians 2:8-10   8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


God bless each of you and God Bless America!


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