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Collections Spotlight: Remembering the Late Bill May of Elk River


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“Two Horsepower” by Bill May

Mighty fine tractor there, Pardner.
Two hundred horsepower, you say?
Makes my horses seem sort of shabby,
But they work if I just feed ‘em hay.

Guess two horses would just be two horsepower,
But we haul six tons of feed every day;
Though we stop now and then, for a “breather”
While we admire the sights ‘long the way.


Yes, we love being just part of Nature;
No roaring motors or howling gears;
No exhaust fumes to cause air pollution;
Screaming engines to deafen our ears.

Sixty grand’s the price of your tractor?
That price gives us nightmares and fears;
Our horses grew up in our pasture,
And they grow better with the passing of years.


Yes, the more we work with our horses,
The more they’ll learn to obey;
They’ll start or they’ll stop for our signal,
Given from six rods away.

Your tractor won’t greet you each morning
With a nicker that says, “May I come in?
I’d love to be petted and curried,
And have a scratch on my chin.”


Snow’s never to deep for our horses,
And they’ll start at forty below;
It don’t take mechanics or gas pumps
In order to get ‘em to go.

Yes, your two hundred horsepower’s amazing
But you’ll get no love from such rigs;
Guess I’ll just stay two horsepower,
And keep working with Irish and Jiggs.


(Dedicated to May’s loyal Percheron team, Irish and Jiggs)

More on Bill May here.
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