My great grandfather Jeff Kruser, participated in a cattle drive in Iowa in1876.  Accounts differ, but most likely they drove them to a railway in eastern Iowa, loaded them on a train, and traveled with them and their horses to Grand Junction, where they unloaded them, and drove the cattle the rest of the way, passing through several counties.   That's a sketch of what's known; the rest are possibilities in poetic form

A Night upon the Prairie

With twilight nigh,
The sun from up the sky,
Descended low to rest,
To slumber in the west...

Orange the orb did set
Beneath the earthly rim around.
And color lingered yet
Where scattered clouds were found
–Pink and purple on display,
  Blues and golds and shades of gray...

As dusk grew into dark
And night on them did creep,
The campfire sputtered a spark,
And cattle lay down to sleep.

A shining moon
Did illumine the fallen night:
And the prairie was widely strewn
With landed lunar light...

A falling star...a meteor,
Flashed across the sky!
So quickly born before,
It streaked to quickly die!
So fast it flew, so fleet!  
In incandescent flight,
As it the air did meet,
In the atmosphere of night...
The meteor there aglow
Was quiet to him below...

But soon, on earth was heard
A sound, as if a word:
His ear did catch it: "whoo,"
As if identifying there...
Then, an owl closer flew
To a branch, dead and bare...
And there, it alit,
And there, did sit.

The bird of the darkened sky
Now watched the watcher nigh...

Anon, the sentinel's ear
A mournful vowel did hear...
A howl that made him wary:
    A wolf of the Iowa prairie!

As he, to howl did hark,
To its call and lupine note,
He heard another bark
From out its coyote throat.

Like a compass pointing north
He turned toward the coyote cries;
To whence their coming forth,
He cast his searching eyes...

A movement he sought to mark,
Exactly where they were,
He studied deep the dark,
Their presence did him bestir...

As he did listen, listen still...
He heard more barks and whines,
He saw shapes upon a hill,
Against the sky, outlines...

He strode, perforce,
To a saddled horse,
And quickly did untether,
The ready reins of leather...

Upon his steed astride,
His rifle holstered ahorse,
He rode the danger side,
Rode a checking course...

He thought of possible prey:
Like a calf from the herd away...
But nary a one he eyed,
      Apart the herd outside...

Yet...closer came the predator,
In dark and lack of light,
Closer, to where the cattle were:
      Blurs of fur in night...

He thought a rifle shot
Might the herd stampede;
    And he decided not,
    But fright! with horse and speed...

He readied to confront,
The creatures there ahunt...

With sudden start, he burst away,
Galloping o'er the prairie atop!
His horse did softly snort and neigh,
It hooves a-thumping c'lop, c'lop!
He thought he heard a yip or two,
As on the horse and rider flew!

Nearer where they stood or lay,
He made his thrust more wide:
He zig'd and zag'd, side to side,
To frighten the wolves away!

And fed with fear, they fled,
Amelt in the dark ahead...

Shortly, the rider swung back,
Returning to the herd;
He waited with the reins aslack,
And watched to be assured...

Around his eye did rove,
Along hill and gully and grove...
But naught of them he saw,
Aprowl on predator paw...

And later came buck and doe
Came darkly down to water,
Where beaver dammed a flow,
And muskrat swam and otter.

The stars awake around,
Kept vigil through the night,
And vigilant on the ground,
He kept the cows in sight.

Like the rhythmic tick and tock,
The pendulum swing of clock,
And telling tones of chime,
The passing stars, told passing time...

By fire with embers hot,
He coffee poured from pot;
And putting a cup to lip,
He drank it, sip by sip...

One might, on looking up,
Liken the sky above and aside,
To a giant o'erturned cup,
One dark and stained inside
―Sprinkled sugary white
    With shining bits of light...

He put branches, dry and broken,
Upon the embered fire to burn,
And then with words, soft spoken,
He awoke another to take a turn...

He gathered grass into a heap,
A little pillow pile,
And with his blanket reclined to sleep,
To rest a little while...

From the world about
He drifted off in slumber...
From world without,
No worry did him encumber...

Toward dawn, he sleepy woke
With a yawn, at his pillow place;
He others heard, as they spoke,
With firelight upon their face...
They were bacon frying, breakfast making,
Batter beating and hotcakes baking...

Along the horizon,
Light appeared in the east,
And in the sky, his eyes on,
He saw the stars decreased.

A morning breeze, so airy,
Blew soft across the prairie,
Blew gently upon his face,
As if, his sleep to chase...

He arose from where he lay,
He stood to face the day:

Pink clouds like pennants outflown
Did herald the morning ray,
The night the hours had known,
Had silently slipped away...            ―John Riedell


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