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A Sheepherder’s Dream ’Twas Christmas Eve on the Carter Lease

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

’Twas Christmas Eve on the Carter Lease,

the snow was two feet deep.

This made it easy on the men

but very hard on sheep.

The sheep were on the bedground,

had been for several days.

They couldn’t expect no release

‘till springtime’s golden rays

would start the snow melting

one fine spring day –

between the first of April 

and the last of May.

A herder and his camp-jack

weååre laying in their bed,

when the herder with a sigh

unto the camp-jack said.

I wonder if we’ll get a thaw

on the next change of the moon.

And if we don’t, oh well,

New Year’s will be soon.

And I have heard it often told

by those who ought to know,

that January brings the wind

that takes away the snow.

A January thaw, the camp-jack said,

well, now, that seems to me

to be one thing we hear about

but very seldom see.

And if this snow sticks till spring,

to me it won’t be strange.

For I notice that it usually stays

upon a lambing range.

And this snow is deep enough

to bog a good, big team.

The herder sighed and went to sleep,

and had this little dream.

He was setting by the fire,

when he thought he heard a bell.

And as he sat and listened,

he knew he heard a yell.

He opened up the sheep camp door,

intending to fire a shot.

But as he looked outside,

oh, what a surprise he got!

There stood a dozen reindeer

hooked to a little sleigh,

an old grey-headed driver

who, unto him did say.

Say, mister, tell me where I am,

I’m lost upon my soul.

I thought this was Wyoming,

but I see it’s the North Pole.

I don’t see how I got turned around,

no new short cuts for me.

The long way around is the short one home,

I now can plainly see.

And now let’s see who you are,

I have you in this book.

North Pole, ah yes, here ’tis, 

why, you are Doctor Cook!

Holding down your discovery, huh?

Well, now, that is a shame,

I don’t think much of anyone

who would try to jump your claim.

Of course you know who I am,

I’m not unknown to fame,

I am known the whole world over

and Santa Claus is my name.

Old man, the herder said,

you aren’t lost.

You’re in Wyoming, if you please.

Your mistake is only natural,

for you’re on the Carter Lease.

But, come in, come in, the herder said,

and warm your hands and feet.

And I will feed your deer an oat,

while you set down and eat.

After he ate, the old man said,

I must be on my way.

I have a lot of ground to cover

before the dawn of day.

But ere I go, accept my thanks,

and a favor I will do.

Just make a wish, what e’er you ask

it shall be given you. 

Then up the camp-jack spoke and said,

I say, that will be fine.

Bring me a quart of Sunny Brook

or a gallon of moonshine.

And now we’ve got to feed some corn

at least, I think we will.

If it ain’t asking too much,

please bring me a little still.

And now my friend, old Santy said,

I haven’t heard you say

what is your wish, come speak up

and I will fully pay.

I don’t want no Sunny Brook

nor still or Quakers Maid.

But if my wish is granted,

I will be well repaid.

For what little I’ve done for you,

and now before you go,

I’ll tell my wish, here ’tis,

for God Sake, melt this snow.

The herder turned to speak again,

before he could open his mouth,

an awful wind hit the camp

and it came from the South.

And as the wind did roar,

the sheep began to blat.

The herder started fanning himself

with his old Stetson hat.

He shed his coat, two pairs of pants,

also a leather vest.

And every stitch he had on,

he tossed off with the rest.

He stood there gasping,

he could scarcely get his breath.

He yelled, open the window

or we’ll roast to death.

He opened wide the sheep camp door,

the deer were chewing their cud.

But what surprised him the most –

they were deep in the mud.

And as he gazed down the draw,

the site it made him shiver.

For where there’d been nothing but snow,

was now a raging river.

Hurrah, he cried, O’ Santa Claus,

you certainly do your stuff.

And when it comes to service,

you sure are no bluff.

But there is one thing that worries me,

it’s almost got my goat –

It’s how you’ll get out of here

without a ferry boat.

And now my friend, old Santa said,

don’t worry now for me.

I sail along when traveling,

like the birds you often see.

I don’t worry about poor roads,

snow, rivers or such things.

I always get there just the same,

tho my reindeer haven’t wings.

But now my friend, I must leave,

this parting gives me pain.

But I must be on my way,

though we may never meet again.

The herder watched his aged friend

start sailing through the sky.

And as the old man disappeared,

he fondly said goodbye.

When morning dawned the sheep awoke

to the raving of his cook.

He says, now what’s the matter?

Don’t you like this Chinook?

A Chinook, did you call it?

Well, now, you make me smile.

And if you don’t want to freeze to death,

just stay in bed awhile.

Say, what does a Chinook feel like?

That’s what Iʼd like to know.

For the wind is right in the North 

and it’s 55 below.

And now, old man, I’ll tell you, 

if your job you’d like to keep,

youʼd better notify the boss

to furnish you more sheep.

Said the herder to the camp-jack,

could all that be a dream?

I still can hear that cheerful blat

and see that mighty stream.

And Santa Claus’ little deer

as he sailed through the sky.

Say, don’t you think we’d better switch

from corn juice to the rye?

Please make me a hot one,

I’ve got an awful thirst.

Oh, how my head’s a achin’

I’m afraid that it will burst.

Well, now I feel much better,

that has relieved my pain.

I think that I will go to sleep

and try to dream again.

Ninety days after that,

the sun came out so bright.

The herder bet the camp-jack,

there’d be water before night.

He whistled and sang

as he skied around

and was right in his mettle.

But when he saw the water,

it was in the kettle.

And as the evening drew near,

his heart was filled with pain.

He slowly murmured to himself,

well, now, I’ve lost again.

I’ll leave this land of snow and ice,

to Klondike I will go.

For I long to be where I can see

something else but snow.

I’ll throw away my skis today,

as soon as I reach the tracks.

I’ll sing a song as I jog along

with my war bag on my back.

I’ll flag a train and never again

will Opal welcome me.

I’ll say goodbye without a sigh,

how happy I will be.

For I long to be where I can see,

the birdies in the trees

and pick some grass on Chilkoot Pass

and feel it’s soothing breeze.

And as I sit in the shade, with a lemonade

or maybe a dish of ice cream,

with a smiling face, I’ll think of the place,

where I had my little dream. 

– Written by William Julian in the

early 1900s while out herding sheep 

  • Posted in Dennis Opinion Column
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