D. J. O’Malley grew up living at frontier forts because his stepfather served in the 19th Infantry. He lived at Fort Keogh, near Miles City, for five years before going to work in 1882 at age 16 for the Home Land and Cattle Co. (N-Bar-N) for $45 a month. His 14-year tenure with the outfit included three trail drives from Texas.
In O’Malley’s day, writing verse about life on the range was a common cowboy pastime, and O’Malley was one of the best. His poem, “After the Roundup,” appeared in the Miles City Stockmens journal in 1893. Thirty years later, it had become the classic, “When the Work’s All Done This Fall.” Here is the refrain from the original poem:
After the round up’s over,
After the shipping’s done,
I’m going straight back home, boys,
Ere all my money’s gone.
My mothers dear heart is breaking,
Breaking for me, that’s all;
But, with God’s help I’ll see her,
When work is done this fall.