Campfires and Cattle Drives

While writing my latest release, The Cattleman Meets His Match, I had a wonderful time envisioning how the plains must have looked all those years ago. While many things have changed, many thiPrairie Dogngs remain the same. Years ago I had a chance to visit Old Baldy near Lynch, Nebraska, the hill near where Louis and Clark trapped their first prairie dog.  There’s something humbling about realizing how much our past and futures are connected by the landscape.

Old Baldy


Human nature has remained much the same over the years as well. The Greek tragedies still speak to us because people still feel the same emotions: hate, love, jealousy, rage. Everything. Some things never change.

That’s why writing something as simple as a group of people sitting around a campfire was intriguing. There’s something mesmerizing about fire and flames, stars in the sky, and crickets in the background. I had my characters tell scary stories around the campfire. I heard a lonesome harmonica in the distance…


I suppose people have always sung around the campfire as well. Songs have been vehicles to pass down stories through histories. Would my characters have sung Billy Boy?

Oh where have you been, Billy Boy,
Billy Boy?
Oh where have you been, charming Billy?
I have been to seek a wife,
She’s the joy of my life,
She’s a young thing
And cannot leave her mother

Billy Boy

Would they sing about Buffalo Gals:

As I was walking down the street
Down the street, down the street,
A pretty gal I chance to meet
Under the silvery moon.
Buffalo gals, won’t you come out tonight?
Come out tonight, Come out tonight?
Buffalo gals, won’t you come out tonight,
And dance by the light of the moon.

Or perhaps The Turkey in the Straw:

As I was a-gwine down the road,
With a tired team and a heavy load,
I crack’d my whip and the leader sprung,
I says day-day to the wagon tongue.
Turkey in the straw, turkey in the hay,
Roll ’em up and twist ’em up a high tuckahaw
And twist ’em up a tune called Turkey in the Straw

Have you ever sat around the campfire and spun a yarn or hummed a ballad? What’s your favorite song?

One commentor will receive a copy of The Cattleman Meets His Match – Digital or Paperback.

The Cattleman Meets His MatchGALAHAD IN A STETSON

Cowboy John Elder needs a replacement crew of cattle hands to drive his longhorns to Kansas—he just never figured they’d be wearing petticoats. Traveling with Moira O’Mara and the orphan girls in her care is a mutually beneficial arrangement. Yet despite Moira’s declaration of independence, the feisty beauty evokes John’s every masculine instinct to protect, defend…marry?

Moira is grateful for John’s help when he rescues her—and she can’t deny that his calm, in-control manner proves comforting. But she is determined not to let anything get in the way of her plans to search for her long-lost brother at journey’s end. However, can John show her a new future—one perfect for them to share?





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37 thoughts on “Campfires and Cattle Drives”

  1. I’ve sat around a fire but the only time we sang it was songs like Kum By Ya and some other Christian choruses way back in the ’70’s.

  2. I’ve never had the opportunity to sit around a campfire but I love the songs you mentioned. I guess that dates me. I have been in group sings and Kum Bah Ya always is a good one.

    Would love a copy of your book!

    Smiles & Blessings
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    • You know – I remember loving to sing songs at camp. No one in my family has a good enough voice for family camping 🙂 I had friend once tell me that a camp sight near them actually told them to stop singing! They were disturbing the other campers 🙂

  3. I love the smell of campfires and the coziness and camaraderie they inspire!

    Favorite campfire song that we sing is Peter, Paul & Mary’s BLOWING IN THE WIND.

    Closely followed by LEAVING ON A JET PLANE and TAKE ME HOME COUNTRY ROAD by John Denver

  4. Oh yes, bonfires in the pasture with hotdogs and marshmallows roasting on twigs cut from the nearby cottonwoods. Songs? Just listening to the creek’s water and night bugs…

  5. can’t say that I’ve had the pleasure 😉 But it sounds fun! As long as there weren’t any mosquitoes! I tend to get eaten alive! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Wonderful post! We sit around a campfire when camping, but we don’t sing. We make s’mores lol. I grew up watching Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. They did a lot of singing. Loved those! Would love to win a copy of your book!

  7. I loved the prairie pictures. Also, it has been awhile since I have been reminded of the song, “Billy Boy.” Best wishes on your book. It sounds like one I would enjoy reading.

  8. Sherri, your book sounds great….will put it on my TBR list. It’s been awhile since the campfire days, but; we sang Up, Up and Away and released some balloons. We had a great time roasting the marshmellows & hot dogs…those we the days.

  9. When I was younger our camp would have a sleep over time that was always a lot of fun… we would have a camp fire, songs, smores, the older kids even made a haunted house out of one of the cabins… they would blindfold you, sit you in a chair, roll the chair around and have you go through some weird feeling stuff and put weird feeling stuff in your hands… I used to make up some creepy stories… makes me smile to remember!

  10. I have never spent a lot of time setting arounda a campfire, but I love the songs listed above. Thanks for sharing your book with us.

  11. We sang lots of campfire songs in Girl Scouts. One that still finds its way into my brain for ‘song of the day’ on occasion is Kookaburra. He laughs in my mind waaaaay too often. But I guess they might not be singing about the kookaburra in Kansas… 🙂

  12. Sherri, great post! The past is so important, isn’t it, and I love to imagine how things were even with cities in the way! I absolutely adore sitting around a campfire and poking at it. I like dumb songs like John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith…a favorite my aunty Elaine taught us as kids. Oh, the memories just now! Thanks.

  13. I love a campfire. Watching the flames dance is so mesmerizing. Sitting there, relaxing and doing a little star gazing, just brings out the stories, doesn’t it? Can’t say I ever actually sang around a campfire–but the stories have been great. One song I like that would work well–but in Australia– is Waltzing Matilda.

  14. We have been around many campfires. A good deal of them were with Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. I just enjoyed listening to the kids and other leaders and parents sing and tell tales.
    We did camp out as a family. For the most part, we enjoyed sitting around the fire, watching the night sky, and listening to the sounds of nature. Our most memorable night around the campfire was many years ago near Ft. Ticonderoga, NY. We were attending Highland games at the fort and had gone to the bagpipe band concert on the parade grounds that evening. When we got back to our site and were watching the stars, we could hear lone pipers playing at different sites around the campground. It was wonderful and had the feel we were a few hundred years in the past.

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