As I searched my files for information on a ranch history I’m working on, I came across this great poem printed in the June 1973 Wyoming Rural Electric News, now called WREN. The author was not listed, but whoever penned it knew Wyoming gates.
There’s one thing in this western land
That I thoroughly hate, I cannot stand.
It holds me up, it makes me late –
The dreadful thing is a Wyoming gate.
When I’m tired and worn and my temper’s hot,
When I’m after a stray that’s needing caught,
You can be sure, and I’m not a liar,
That that blinking gate will be tangled wire.
It tears my clothes and burns my brain,
And the way to open it is never the same.
At times when I’m tired and I want to climb through,
Then I’m sure to get stuck and my head is bruised blue.
I hate it, I hate it, it ruins my life,
And it punctures my pride when it falls for my wife.
I never can open it, yet steers knock it down,
And the only good wire will be miles into town.
I kick it, I cuss it, it tears up my clothes,
That Wyoming gate is number one of my woes.
I try to forget it, get disgusted, pull out hair –
But no matter what happens that gate is still there.
I could leave the country, ship out on a freight,
Or finish it all and go on to my fate.
But, sure as I’m breathing, if it’s Heaven I rate,
The door won’t be pearly, but a Wyoming gate!
Gates have been a thorn in a cowboy’s life since the West was settled. However, as bad as opening gates is for guys, it’s 10 times as tough for ladies. A case in point was my stepmother, who was, as they say, “well endowed.” Every time she tried to open a barbed wire gate she was poked in a delicate place. My dad was a fence contractor who built tight gates, which mom hated. Every time she attempted to open a gate the wire poked her in the chest. After a few attempts she would get in the pickup, back up and ram the gate with the grill. Just to loosen it up. Of course she usually broke a post or two. Dad finally got the message and made it easier for the gals to open gates by putting an extended opener on the post. It was easy to use, locked shut, fit all types of gates and let the person open and close a gate without touching the “pokey” wire. And it could be made from parts and pieces found around the shop or in the scrap pile. Photo by Dick Perue