My Flint Hills

Observations and Reminiscences from America's Last Tallgrass Prairie

Jim Hoy

Winner: Byron Caldwell Smith Award

Between the Nebraska border and Osage County, Oklahoma, are the Flint Hills of Kansas, and growing on those hills the last of the tallgrass prairie that once ranged from Canada to Texas, and on those fields of bluestem, cattle graze—and tending the cattle, someone like Jim Hoy, whose people have ranched there from, well, not quite time immemorial, but pretty darn close.

“[Hoy’s] descriptions of ranch life in the tallgrass prairie, past and present, are a major cultural contribution to the literature of place.

—Roundup Magazine

“Jim Hoy knows the Flint Hills as well, if not better, than anyone who has written on the subject, and My Flint Hills is Hoy’s ‘love song’ to the region. The stories in this book are reflections of life lived in the region and of the deep family ties he has to the hills. There are works on the Flint Hills but none with a passionate and informed voice like Hoy’s. It is a joy to read Hoy’s deep-rooted affection for the place he calls home.”

—James Sherow, author of The Chisholm Trail: Joseph McCoy’s Great Gamble

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Hoy has always called the Flint Hills home and over the decades he has made a study of them—their tough terrain and quiet beauty, their distinctive folk life and cattle culture—and marshaled his observations to bring the Flint Hills home to readers in a singular way. These essays are Hoy’s Flint Hills, combining family lore and anecdotes of ranching life with reflections on the region’s rich history and nature. Whether it’s weaning calves or shoeing horses, checking in on a local legend or a night of high school basketball in nearby Cassoday, encountering a coyote or a badger or surveying what’s happened to the tallgrass prairie over time, summoning cowboy traditions or parsing the place’s plant life or rock formations, he has something to say—and you can bet it’s well worth hearing. With his keen eye, understated wit, and store of knowledge, Hoy makes his Flint Hills come alive, and in the telling, live on.

About the Author

Jim Hoy is professor emeritus of English, Emporia State University, and director emeritus of the Center for Great Plains Studies. Among his many books are Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales from the Tallgrass Prairie, also from Kansas, and, with Tom Isern, Plains Folk: A Commonplace of the Great Plains.