A man of many talents: Farrier, cowboy poet and agricultural radio show host shines light on cowboy way of life
Pinedale – Andy Nelson is a cowboy poet and humorist bringing laughter to audiences around the West. As a second-generation farrier, Andy has the experience and humor to bring authenticity to his work as an entertainer.
Raised in Oakley, Idaho, as kids Andy and his brother Jim traveled all around the Great Basin – southern Idaho, northern Utah and northern Nevada – with their father on farrier jobs. He and his brother, grew up following their dad and shoeing horses.
“I used my horseshoeing career to get me through college, and Jim used his to supplement his ranch income,” Andy says. “Now, we have the third generation of shoers coming in. Jim’s son, Sam, shoes professionally now, and my boys also dabble in farriery.”
While in college at Utah State University (USU), Andy continued to shoe horses for the USU Horsemanship Program. Now he lives in Pinedale, where he and his wife Jaclyn raise horses.
Andy and his brother Jim announce a lot of regional rodeos and also co-host the Clear Out West (COW) Radio weekly syndicated radio show.
Falling into COW Radio
“While traveling around doing some entertaining with my cowboy poetry, I ran into a fellow from Canada named Hugh McLennan, who has a radio show – Spirit of the West – which features cowboy music, poetry and western humor in British Columbia,” Andy says. “I got to know him and started listening to his radio show on the internet.”
Eventually, Andy talked to Jim about doing something similar, as the pair was known for entertainment.
“He and I goofed off together quite a bit in the past,” Andy recalls. “I told him I thought we could do this.”
“I told Jim there’s nothing else quite like this around for people like us to listen to,” he continues. “If someone didn’t have internet connection, they can’t listen to anything like this, so maybe we ought to do this. He looked at me like I had three heads and said, ‘OK, let’s do it!’ thinking it would probably only last a month or two and he wouldn’t have to be committed very long.”
Now, almost 20 years later, the two brothers are still doing their show.
“We both enjoy it, and this gives us an opportunity to get together once a week,” Andy shares. “Jim lives out by Cora, and he and his wife run cattle. I live south of Pinedale, so we are only about 20 miles from each other, but we’d probably not get together much other than church because we are both so busy.”
He adds, “The radio show gives us a chance to get together every Tuesday, goof off and have a good time.”
Radio dedicated to cowboys
Clear Out West Radio Show is now a weekly syndicated cowboy radio show dedicated to introducing the cowboy culture to new folks and bringing back some great memories to older cowboys. Andy and Jim present cowboy music, cowboy poetry and some serious laughter.
The COW Radio audience likes to have a good time, Andy shares.
“In this day and age, we need to find something to laugh about,” he says. “Every week, we pick a topic and if it’s not ag-related, we make it an ag-related topic. We always throw in some humor, as well, though every now and then we do something serious, just to keep ourselves firmly grounded.”
Andy continues, “Sometimes we talk about some of the challenges rural communities and agriculture are facing – things our audience can relate to – whether it’s drought, hay, predators, government and other issues.”
One of their main goals is to try to celebrate the ranching lifestyle.
“This is an important way of life that we grew up with and continue to be involved in – we hope to help it continue,” Andy says. “The poetry and the radio show is all about helping preserve the history and heritage of the West.”
In many ways, the cowboy way is a dying way of life, but continuing to share stories and talk through issues the community faces is a way to shine some light on the good way of life in order to keep people involved, introduce it to new people and provide an opportunity to those who want to see it perpetuated and kept alive, Andy shares.
Sharing western heritage with younger generations
“Trying to keep the next generation involved, interested and excited is our goal and our challenge,” Andy says. “We live in a world where most people expect instant gratification, and the agrarian world does not provide instant gratification.”
It’s not very easy to inspire the next generation, though some city kids are fascinated by rural life, especially if they get a taste of it through listening to cowboy music and poetry. Andy says there are still some good kids out there, and we need to reach them and keep them – this is one of the radio show’s goals.
“We try to make this way of life and our presentations accessible to the next generation, not just our generation,” Andy says. “We have one segment on our show called Dick’s Pick, which plays an old-time cowboy song or an old western song, but we also make sure we play some more modern music, too.”
“There are some good, young cowboy artists who are writing and singing some good cowboy songs, so we make sure we include some of their music as well,” Andy says. “The younger generation can relate to artists like Dave Stamey and Corb Lund.”
Listen in to COW
“We are on quite a few stations throughout the Intermountain West, but the easiest way to listen to our show is to go to our website and sign up for our podcast,” Andy shares. “Once you get signed up, it will come to your mobile device every Monday morning. If a person doesn’t have cell service or a mobile device, they can listen to it on the internet – you don’t have to sign up for the podcast.”
There is also a list on the front page of their website of the various radio stations that air Andy and Jim’s shows.
One can also go to Andy’s cowboy poetry website to see his cowboy poetry.
Creating cowboy poetry
Andy shares, “I actually started writing poetry when I was in grade school, and that was back when we had teachers who fostered this kind of creativity, and a curriculum that encouraged it. Mrs. Daley was my inspiration back in grade school, and she got me writing poetry.”
“Our dad was also a novice poet and loved to tell stories,” he continues. “So I guess I came by it honestly. Our dad was the biggest cowboy character anyone would ever meet – he cowboyed and shod horses all over the Great Basin.”
“Jim’s wife Tina is the real rancher, and Jim has a day job to support her ranching habit,” Andy says.
Andy’s wife Jaclyn is a registered nurse, and together they have four children.
“My wife and I are enjoying the empty nest and our grandkids,” he says. “We have seven of those, and number eight will be here in October.”
The grandparent job is a good duty, Andy shares, saying, “If I’d known how much fun it was, I’d have skipped the kids and gone straight to being Grandpa!”
For more information or to listen to Clear Out West Radio, visit clearoutwest.com. To view Andy’s cowboy poetry, visit his website at cowpokepoet.com.
Heather Smith Thomas is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.