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Track 6—From When We Were Young (2011)

Get Them Cows In The Barn

Al Dunkleman, Heartfelt Americana Music/ASCAP


My first official “job” when I was young involved helping a neighboring dairy farmer. Frank Friel and his two sons ran a small dairy right next to our house. From early spring to late fall every day around 3:30 p.m. it was my responsibility to climb up the hill behind our house and drive about twenty or so Holsteins through a barbed wire gate located about half way up the hill. I would close the gate and then further persuade the cows across the crick (that’s what we called it) and into the shoot at the back of the barn. I would then shut the wooden gate and head back home.


Most of the time you could call the cows and they’d start meandering down the hill toward the barn. I would mimic Mr. Friel’s call the best that I could and yell—“Come, Boss! Come, Boss!” Unfortunately, the cows would often ignore my passionate calls and continue their grazing and cud chewing.


I vividly remember one steamy hot Saturday afternoon in July. I had made my way above the barbed wire gate when out of nowhere came a loud clap of thunder that shook the ground. Within a few seconds it was pouring the rain and lightning began to strike close by as the storm rumbled down the valley. I quickly ran to the top of the hill where the cows were located. Being spooked by the storm the cows had run back into the upper pasture and some had darted off into the woods. It seemed like an hour went by before I was able to successfully drive the cows down the hill, over the creek and into the barn.      


Each Friday night around 6:00 p.m. was one of the most exciting times for me. After finishing supper I would walk down to Mr. Friel’s dairy barn and with a great big smile he would hand me two of the crispest, brand-spanking-new dollar bills you’d ever seen. Those dollar bills were so special that I didn’t want to bend them. With the money clenched carefully in my hand, I would run and jump all the way home—skillfully dodging the cow pies of course.


Those two dollars didn’t last long. On Saturday morning I would hop on my bike and make a beeline to the Five & Dime Store in town to buy a model car. I gained great pleasure breaking lose all the car parts and then carefully following the directions and making sure each part was properly placed and glued. When I finished each car I would proudly display them on a shelf in my bedroom. After putting five or six models together there were always extra parts to create new dragsters and hotrods.


The melody I created for “Get Them Cows In The Barn” (Key of G; standard tuning) captures the memories of my cow herding days. The first part of the tune focuses on a normal cow drive, while the second part reflects when the cows were not so cooperative.


“It’s time to get them cows in the barn.”


“Come, Boss!”