Story in the Snow
By Liz Hughey

Guided a Canuck
that cold Third Rifle season. 
Fresh elk tracks in the snow
gave us both good hunting reason.

We spy a nice wide bull;
the hunter takes his shot. 
We hear him hit the ground;
a clean kill I had thought. 

Much to our surprise,
we find a snow packed imprint,    
and a small blood trail
that leaves us with a hint.   

We set off on a journey
to find the wounded bull. 
A sweaty trek through snow

make me thankful for my wool.

For you….
By Liz Hughey

I want you to appreciate, things money cannot buy.
For you to know God’s love, by gazing into endless sky.
The Earth is always there, and has nothing left to hide.
See perfection that’s provided, and always look inside.

I want you to feel the love, in a fuzzy kitten’s purr.
For you to know the need behind, a wet nose morning stir.
For you to have the green grass, in between your toes.
To giggle at the tickle, of a feather on your nose.

I want you to see the beauty, of a horse mane in a gale.
For you to view the gift, of life’s less traveled trail.
For you to spy fresh fallen snow, and know it’s time to play.
To watch the morning sunrise, seeing it’s a bright, new day.

I want you to hear the joy, of a hummer’s beating wings.
To listen to a creek flow, and the timeless note it sings.
For you to know the clip clop, of hoof beats on the ground.
To let your mind be still and silent, without any sound.

I want you to taste the love, in a meal cooked at home.
For you to sip crisp mountain air, that makes you want to roam.
For you to know the flavor, of tomatoes grown in season.
To let Thanksgiving mashed potatoes, be a travel reason.

I want you to smell the forest, after late summer rain.
For the aroma of a flower, to take away your pain.
For the fragrance of the soil, to answer all your prayers.
To let the scent of animals, take away your cares.

I want you to be struck blind, by a superficial cover.
For you to love a human, no matter preference, shape, or color.
For you to know good weather, comes in many different forms.
Shade yourself from too much sun, adapt to any storms.

And if your life does stray, from this poetic hue,
Please know that your Mom’s love, is always holding you.
Life’s the great unknown, giving the reins can be quite tough.
But whatever you are My Love, please know that you’re enough.


Cosmic Cowgirl Remorse
By Liz Hughey

As I sit here on this front porch step
I feel so far removed.
From the mountains, from the prairies,
from the cowgirl groove.

Much further than a phone call,
Or an airplane ride.
A feeling that’s been felt before,
often taken in stride.

Most times, when I feel this way,
I go catch up my horse.
But it’s too late for that.
Time for cosmic, cowgirl remorse.

“Go West my friend!
It’s the land of opportunity!”
Of dreams and National Forests,
the cowboy community. 

But go too far, and you’ll land
in the exact same place.
The true life for this packing gal’s
a rural, mountainous space.

East of the “Muddy Mizz”
and west of the Sierra’s
Cowboy hats are worn for fun
as costumes and tiaras.

First Love

By Liz Hughey

Little girls love horses.
I know the feeling well.
There’s not an Earthly fragrance 
that this nose would rather smell. 

Little girls love horses.
Thank goodness that they do. 
Much better to love than boys. 
Most women know this to be true.

Little girls love horses.
Galloping in the pasture. 
Trots up to the fence to snicker,   
“Hello there, loving Master.” 

Little girls love horses,
It’s a dream that we’ve all had.   
Remember that first time,
being tossed up by mom or dad? 

Little girls love horses,
Lifting and picking feet. 
And if you ask them nicely, 
they will, and not miss a beat. 

Little girls love horses.              
Braiding tails, twisting manes.  
The feeling in your fingers  
of the soft and supple reins.   

Little girls love horses.
Saddling from a stool. 
Don’t slam it on their back!   
Is a good horsewoman’s rule.   


A half a mile later,
we find another bed. 
All the fresh white snow
makes it easy to spot red. 

If you've ever tracked an elk,
you know they can cover ground.     
Worriers of the mountain in snow,
don't make much loud sound. 

Still on the snowy trail,
I see a bright red clot.    
What's this? Coyote tracks! 
Now we're getting hot! 

With sunset coming soon,
the odds won't be in our favor.    
We'll return in the morning;
a feeling I do not savor. 

North Star
By Liz Hughey

The North Star is my bearing,
see it almost every night.
And think of the friends I know
that can find its burning light.

I spy it on the beachfront
or visiting mountainous spaces.
The first thing these eyes look to
when traveling to new places.

It takes me to past memories
and others, yet to see.    
It’s shining presence is constant,
no matter where up north you be.  

A nightly glowing beacon
for those who like to roam.
If one can find its brightness,
they can find their home.      

City lights dim its shine
and make it sometimes hard to see. 
If wondering my local,
look to Polaris to find me.    

Little girls love horses.
Jumping logs in forests, 
Don’t you dare tell Mom!
It’s our little secret of course.

Little girls love horses.
Let’s picnic over there. 
We’ll make a daisy crown,  
and tie it in your gorgeous hair. 

Little girls love horses.
Smiling, laughing, loping. 
Riding's a good practice,   
and a healthy way of coping. 

Little girls love horses.
Feeding cores and carrots. 
The favorite treats to reward, 
their good, kind, gentle merits. 

Little girls love horses,
Hugging them from their back. 
It’s a different posture,
most horse riders have the knack. 

Little girls love horses,
No saddling today. 
I’ll mount up from a tree stump, 
and then we’ll quickly ride away. 

Little girls love horses,
Give that coat some extra shine. 
I thank God for you daily,  
and cannot believe you are mine. 

Sample Liz's Poetry

I'm happy to report,
we found the king in a pine castle.   
He was curled up and peaceful,
like he died without much hassle. 

I'd rather every hunter
make a clean shot don't you know. 
Still, it was very special to watch,
this story in the snow. 

Saw mule team jump the traces;
brought tear drops to the eye.
Do they pull or push the wagon? 
Give explanation why.

Many New friends made,
some maybe whole life long.
So easy to connect with,
the long ear's braying song.

Not wanting it to end,
just make it one more day.
The mules have worked so hard,
and are over of the dry hay.

As this crazy heart beats,
passed Mt. Tom up 395.
I'm in love with Bishop Mule Days,
and feeling so alive.

​Photo Credit, Kevin Dietrich

There, a hat and boots,
Is a rustic, fashion statement.
Not useful, honest tools to help
with weather and displacement.

“Chinks” and “chaps” are slurs,
not rightful leg protection.
The only way to buck this feeling’s,
traveling the right direction.

To where one sees, a pack boot
and knows a person’s trade.
Where they call a “mule” a “mule”
and a “spade” a “spade”

The place where one can ride for days,
not ever crossing fence.
And diamonds are a hitch thrown,
with a lash and packing sense.

Right now I have the North Star,
to take me to Lost Park.
Just wish this cowgirl’s day dreams
didn’t happen after dark.

Willow Fire
By Liz Hughey

Leaves are fallen and snow is here;
the first to stay of the winter year.
Autumns’ splendor gone to grey and white.
But, the willow branches burn. 

Quiet with no leaves on the trees,
barren branches swaying in the breeze. 
Late fall wind scorches skin like the sun,
But, the willow branches burn. 

Spruce hold the snowflakes in their arms,
as they fall like sparkling diamond charms. 
Evergreens sag under all the weight.
But, the willow branches burn. 

The air is cold and the Earth is wet.
Winter’s trail isn’t quite frozen yet.   
It’s a muddy, sloppy, slippery mess,
But, the willow branches burn. 

Burning red, yellow, orange, pink, and green.
The only colors to be seen.
Fall and winter are the seasons to see,

the willow branches burn.     

I hope he gets a moment
to close his eyes in sleep. 
The bull is magnificent;
his suffering makes me weak.

Sunrise comes quick;
we pick up right where we left off.    
The next snowy bunk
is as big as a water trough. 

It is yesterday's bed,
but the blood trail now is strong.    
I hope we find the bull
before coyotes sing their song. 

We follow his stumbling tracks
into an island of dark timber.    
My hunter is worn out now
and becoming quite a hinder. 


​Cowboy Enough?
By Liz Hughey

My writing’s about past memories, trail rides, and strife.
Being perfectly honest, I couldn’t rope to save my life.

Rather than learn’in to throw, I went to rub down school instead.
Can’t head or heal a runni’in calf, but might fix your ail’in head.

Graze a herd of cattle, ride the horses and the mules. 
Spend my days outside and often set the rules.

Can lace a pair of pack boots, while gaping at the sky. 
Can spot a pissed off set of ears, or a big soft eye. 

Wear a hat and chinks with pride, rarely sport a spur. 
Can gently pick a main or tail of cockle burr.

Can splint a fractured leg or pull a late spring calf. 
As it’s landing on my chest, can’t help but grin and laugh. 

Love to work the head gate, catching heifers is such fun.
Run the tractor and the bailer, rolling in the sun.

I won’t ride Diablo, feel too old for that.
But  I can fry the perfect egg; there’s camp value in that. 

Feel certain with a string, on new moon and blind fold
My ears become my eyes, my hands can stand the cold.

The favorite duty I have, raise’in a toe-head son.  
Imprint just one value, and I’ll feel that I’ve won.

This land’s not called a ranch, here it’s called a farm.
My heart’s still with the animals, keeping them from harm.

I love the Western life, but this land’s in the East. 
Thick woods, rolling hilltops; not mountains in the least. 

This land owns my soul, and I help make it finer.
Warm grass roots grow deep, don’t discount this depth as minor. 

So here in lies my verse, it isn’t gruff or brash. 
It’s my cowboy poetry, and lacks a thick mustache.  


Photo Credit, Drew Riedman Photography

The Salty Ones
By Liz Hughey

When I wake up in the morning
and have farm chores to do,    
I think of women in coffee shops,
drinking their fresh brew.   

Women looking "morning cute"
and enjoying their technology.   
Then I think of the "salty ones",
who share my genealogy.  

Cowgirls, foresters, and farmers,
loving animals and nature.  
Women who'd rather hike a mountain
and sit next to glacier.   

Some have called me "different"
for enjoying grit and dirt.  
Being pigeonholed, can often,
make one’s feelings hurt.   

But, I like this designation,
and would rather share the day, 
with a strong and "salty one",
whom can buck a bale of hay.   

The guess is, growing up,
your favorite color wasn’t pink.  
Not afraid to share your thoughts
or give an occasional wink. 

Coffee shops and ballet flats,
they're nice every now and then.    
But callused hands and dirty jeans
turn sons into working men.   

Raising "salty" daughters,
is so important of course. 
Good to know, that picking up toads,
will not give them warts. 

Loving this Earth are the "salty ones",
You know who you are.   
These are my women of kin,
with whom I wish upon a star. 


Get Out!             By Liz Hughey

Nothing provides a bigger smile,
and releases human dour,    
Like skiing down a mountain slope
at forty miles per hour.    

Except maybe, a trail ride,
with a string of mules in hand.   
With another packing gal,
laughing hard can be so grand.   

Of course, the elation

of a snowy powder day,  
wakes this cowgirl at dawn.
Not miss’in freshies; no way! 

But, hiking dogs through hardwoods,
is also quite enjoyable.     
A very doable practice
that’s easy and employable.       

Spying butterflies and finches,
harvesting flowers is quite fun. 
They wouldn’t be able to gather
if seeds weren’t planted in the sun.   

To observe a meteor shower,
one can’t be afraid of darkness. 
Using a big dog for a pillow,
will help with Earthly starkness. 

Watching “the boy” pick up toads
sends this mom’s heart aflutter.  
Love to see that smiling face
splash in the driveway gutter.

These scenarios all share,
one important, common trait.      

None of them can happen,
to those who sit inside and wait

Mule Ears
By Liz Hughey

After packing an elk season
one will know, 
the way mule ears look
as they bounce in the snow. 

In perfect unison,
with a very nice cadence. 
A pack string of mules, not horses,
makes much more sense. 

They may sneak a bite,
and get stuck on a tree. 
But nothing is intentional;
mules are too smart you see. 

It's all about the cookie,
or a scratch on the head. 
But approach in hunter orange,
and you might be kicked dead.

Cowgirl Hat Smile
By Liz Hughey

Pearly whites are beautiful
and can take any gal miles and miles.
Still, nothing’s quite so striking
as a cowgirl hat wearing a smile.   

Rosy cheeks and dimples
can draw any one in of course.   
But, nothing brings one around
like a cowgirl on her horse. 

She’s patient, calm, and steady;
also strong, assertive, and stern.  
Her smiles run ear-to-ear;
always affectionate but firm.   

Worn and dirty Levi’s
keep many thought’s devoted.  
Another sightly detail,
that’s good and often noted.   

Her calloused hands and nails
need a buff and manicure.   
But, polished and soft fingers
would make her less of her.       

Work in nature is her solace,
the place where she finds peace.
The days are long and active;
sunset never seems to cease.  

Locks tucked under a hat,
or a pony holds the hairs.  
But, when she lets them down,
it draws lost and endless stares.    

A wild and untamed beauty
not come by every day.    
You’re the lucky one
if a cowgirl’s smile gets in your way.   

Mule Savvy
By Liz Hughey

"Stubborn as a mule."
What a flawed insult.
For comparison to this beast,
is a privilege, not a fault.

"Smart as a mule."
A statement oh so true.
A mule will not do anything,
It doesn't want or have to do.

"Works like a mule."
What a compliment!
There is no other animal,
That can supplement.

"Sings like a mule."
I'll take that any day.
Music to my ears,
Of an early morning bray.

"Ugly as a mule."
Might come as a surprise.
Intense, organic beauty,
long ears and dark brown eyes.

"Tough as a mule."
You've got a real thick skin.
Takes obstacles head on,
With a quick wink and a grin.

By Liz Hughey

Winner, winner
chicken dinner! 
I know a cook,
and his name is Skinner.

Master of smithery
and Dutch oven cooking. 
Wears a handle bar stache,
and loves lady looking.

Never met a man
that spoke mule so well. 
Entrances all equine
with his secret spell.

Can hitch up a team
in ten seconds flat. 
Looks right handsome
in a cowboy hat.

Winner, winner
chicken dinner! 
I need a cook,
and his name is Skinner.

Eloquent and Scottish,
comfy in a kilt. 
Once had a circus,
nimble on a stilt.

Huggable and soft
like a teddy bear. 
Can roar like a lion,
so please beware.

The secret to his heart
is a good stiff brandy. 
When God gave us this one
he sure gave a dandy.

Winner, winner
chicken dinner! 
I love a cook,
and his name is Skinner.


The Cowgirl poet

“The Boss” needs improve, or pass on her own.
Living out the days with her offspring at home.

Most say not to name cows, and this is just why.
We’re not sending her off. This farm’s where she’ll die.

The evening was gorgeous, as sycamores climbed,
into a blue sky, with clouds intertwined.

The three-year-old boy, led the way up the hill.
A tad bit of coaxing, but we made it there still.

A January sunset lit hardwoods afire.
But, when we got to the barn the evening turned dire.

She was down on the ground, neck under a panel.
Boy watched as I tapped, my Wonder Woman channel.

The gate was swung open, the herd all around.
Vet emergency now, returned home in a bound.

Quick dinner, some phone calls, back up to the barn.
“The Boss” still being down, left a feeling of scorn.

​Mom and Dad were there now, and we worked as a team.
To move her around, and set her fire agleam.

We did a good job, we got her to drink.
To sit up on her sternum, and maybe to think.

It’s not really the place, that one wants to be.
But, for a farm boy, better than watching TV.

Not sure at this moment what sunrise will hold.
Hope it’s burning scarlet red, with off-shoots of gold.

children's Author, cowboy poet

Red Angus Sunset    By Liz Hughey

To say we were novice when a trailer pulled to the barn.
Is an understatement, we couldn’t tell tail from horn.

Red Angus don’t have horns, and that’s a good thing.
Cuz, this farm lacks that type of hay feeding ring

There was one cow in the herd that stood out from the rest.
The seller had said that she was the best.

With a 1- 4-7 displayed on her tag.
We called her “The Boss”. She was far from a nag.

The unspoken leader, took the girls everywhere.
A good Angus mom, with dark scarlet hair.

They all came with spring calves standing strong at their side.
They weaned on arrival. “The Boss” not leaving her pride.

When she finally did wander, she returned every day.
To make sure her calf was doing OK.

 That calf’s face was compact, very hairy you know.
It’s for that funny reason Mom named her “Ringo.”

“Ringo” threw “Tate”, our weed eating queen.
She keeps every fence row, trimmed short and clean.

Over a decade has past, and one could still see
‘The Boss’ and ‘Ringo’ together under a tree.

Not the lead cow at present, “Tate’s” taken her place.
“The Boss” slipped last week. Winter’s mud stole her grace.

She’s up in the barn and moving real slow.
Letting us scratch on her neck….not her M-O.

She’s never been open. A great teacher to all.
Fed at the barn yesterday, the herd came up to bawl.



Mule Fool
By Liz Hughey

Rental up Sierra Street,
sun rising on the peaks.
Hear those last Mule brays;
wanting to return next week.

A loud hum in the heart,
a bright spark in the eye.
Beauty so extravagant,
stopped twice to look and spy.

Can't believe it happened,
the past five days, a dream.
Don't pinch me, I'll wake up from,
the lash rope throwing scene.

Those ropes flew high and fast,
like osprey over loads.
Hands moving with precession.
Rock Creek should wear blind folds.

Home to tie a box hitch;
the first one for these hands.
The knots are spiritual;
connecting soul to Western lands


Third Season Trek
By Liz Hughey

Before sunup we gals left
for a very long trek,
with pack strings of mules
after they'd all had a fleck. 

Through the D-ring,

the rope says "slide",
the knot is tied,

and on goes the ride.

With more snow on the ground
than these eyes had seen, 
Just two weeks prior
had been Halloween. 

Sunrise was frigid, blistering cold
on that day. 
Icicles on whiskers;
horses breaking snow all the way. 

Stopped at the top of
the canyon for a break,   
dreaming of Salt Park
where there's a camp we will make. 

Riding into the snow gusts

on Windy Ridge was a breeze.

The ice on our eye lashes

brought giggles to my knees.

It was the warmest sleeping bag
I ever did feel, 
after finishing a superb 
and delicious hot meal.

Through the D-ring

the rope says "slide",

the knot is tied,

and on goes the ride.

Watering horses
at the creek in the morning,  
the grey horse gave his rider
a terrible warning. 

East Pine hunters were surprised
to see us that early.    
They weren't expecting two broads;
but men very burly. 

Back to the lodge,
we arrived mid-afternoon.   
Three feet of snow on the ground,
had me singing a tune. 

It was the best life adventure
I'd had up to that date.   
The woman I rode with
was my best packing mate. 

I think of packing daily
with a very warm heart,   
and am so glad to know
the knot tying art.  

Through the D-ring
the rope says "slide",
the knot is tied,
and on goes the ride.