fisherman, cowboy, gardener, poet, and friend. We had the great opportunity to celebrate the life of our dear friend Vern Krebs a couple of weeks ago. He passed on from this life on April 23 after a battle with cancer. Shane met him through a friend about 7 years ago and they were instant pals. He then introduced me when we got married and I fell in love with this sweet man as well. That was the thing about Vern...there was no age limit when it came to friendship. Some of his closest friends were half his age or more. On a visit with Vern you could count on some words of wisdom, taking home goodies from his garden, a few rounds of May I (a card game much like Skip-bo), and some great cowboy poetry. He was constantly coming up with new poems and they are some of the wittiest I have ever heard. On one occasion, we asked if we could have a copy of his poetry and he obliged. It's hard to choose a favorite, but this has always been one of ours:
It was approaching May on the Lazy K and a change was in the land
Spring had sprung and the calves were young and we were needin’ another hand.
The bossman said we’d have to share a bed with the new hand we anticipated
So me and Jake we’d hafta make a decision we both hated
That was askin’ a lot for the pay we got, and against the cowboy laws
But Jake and me said we’d agree and Jake said, "let’s draw straws"
Well...well I knew I was licked ‘cause the straw I picked was short and jakes’ was long
"I’ll share my bed" to old Jake I said, but hope I didn’t think it wrong
Well, The dye was cast, the day went fast – I looked for night with dread
As far as I’d known, I’d slept alone, since the day my diaper was shed
I approached the shack, and threw down my pack and opened the bunkhouse door
I closed the latch, lit a match, and then I heard that new hand snore
Well, I took my place in the meager space that was left for me to rest
I needed my sleep and my bargain I’d keep – and somehow I’d pass this test
Well, I counted birds, antelope herds and buffalo stacked three deep,
I counted cows and calves and divided by halves, and almost counted sheep
Well, the night was gone, it was time for dawn, so I headed for the mornin’ chuck
When I saw old Jake, he did a double-take, and said, “looks like you lost your luck
Your eyes are red, and sunk in your head, like something the cat drug in”
So I told my pard, that the night was hard, and how loud that snorin’ had been
My pal Jake said, "you can take my bed, I’ll release this load you’re under
You need a lift, so I’ll take my shift, tonight I’ll sleep with Old Thunder"
Well, with all due respect, I began to object, but old jake was a true blue pard
I said "Jake, you can’t do it", he sez "shucks, nothin' to it" so with that I didn’t argue too hard
Well, the night came and went, and with my conscience still bent, I opened the chuckhouse door
There stood jake with a smile, narry a sign of no guile, bright-eyed and bushytailed as before
"Where’s Old Thunder?" I said, "didn’t he sleep in your bed?"…just then Old Thunder dragged in,
His eye sockets was deep like a dude that needs sleep, and a long days growth on his chin
From my pal tried and true, an explanation was due, this mysterie's like a cow in the mire,
With a smile Jake said, and with a nod of his head, "you gotta fight fire with fire"
"It was easy" said jake, "I just kept thunder awake, the solution ‘gainst snorin’ came clear
As we went to bed, I just kissed him and said, 'good night dear'."
It is, of course, much better when recited by Vern, but you get the idea.
This is a picture of all of us the last time we visited Vern. You'll notice that in both pictures, he is sporting his coveralls. I have a hard time remembering a visit in which Vern was not donning his coveralls. I credit him for a comment I heard out of Shane's mouth one day..."I can't wait until the day when I can just wear coveralls all of the time."
You will surely be missed Vern. We feel honored to know you and we are grateful to call you friend.
Good ol’ Vern
Vern’s a good pard – a true blue kinda guy,
How true? Friends compare him to a dark indigo dye.
It don’t take too long to learn his passions (and his peeves),
He’s honest and straightforward – wears his convictions on his sleeve.
A rancher by trade, he loves an honest day’s work,
Some loathe shovels and hoes – he calls them job perks!
But along with the toil and the sweat from the sun,
Vern’s not opposed to an outdoorsy brand of fun.
Whether hunting or fishing, or throwin’ a saddle on a brown,
His favorite spots are miles and miles from downtown.
Whether a housefire, engine failure, or some other disaster,
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who helps others faster.
“The best place in the world” he has said of Cache Valley,
Where people love people and ‘round each other they rally.
But be careful at the card table when he gets a gleam in his eye,
You wouldn’t be the first to lose a game of “May I?”
Ol’ Vern likes a good joke – got a wit like a knife,
Enjoys writin’ and recitin’ poems ‘bout cowboy life.
Anything that has to do with spurs, cattle, broncs or tack,
Is worthy fodder for poetry (he’s got quite a knack!)
Twas Vern’s grasp of poetry that first got me to consider…
So I got out a pencil and yammered and piddered.
I wrote and I thought, and I wrote even more,
Well…I’ll just never equal a poem like “Snore Cure.”
Well, Vern, we love ya, there’s no doubt about that,
Why? ‘Cause a true blue pard lies under that old tattered hat!
(After our last visit, Shane wrote this poem and sent it to Vern along with the picture above. He passed away weeks later. We were touched to see the picture displayed at his funeral)