"I don't think I ever foresaw ever a situation where on a crew ...there'd be a female .... If she couldn't do the job, she wouldn't be there..."
About Peggy Godfrey
About the filmmaker, Kent Gunnufson
More about the DVD and Order Information
photo by Kent Gunnufson
About Peggy Godfrey
photo by James Hughes
Peggy Godfrey has been ranching in the high desert next to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado for the past 32 years. In this country "cowboy" is a verb. Since 1991 she has been performing for a wide variety of audiences. Composting disasters into poems and stories is her version of value-added agriculture.
The producers of Cowboy Poetry: A Woman Ranching in the Rockies describe Peggy Godfrey as "... a single, talented woman working and writing – and playing a part in a real-life miracle – amongst male-dominated
high country ranches..." She tells the story of her neighbor, "old Vogal," in the film, and recites her poem: Rocky Mountain
Told me I was lucky
When I went to cut his hay
A bloom or two means lots of leaves
'Course it's best that way.
He assured me I was lucky
That my bales were done up tight
Lucky that I caught the dew
And chanched to bale it right.
Oh yes, and I was lucky
When storm clouds came around
All my hay was in a stack
Not layin' on the ground.
I clenched my jaw and held my tongue
Red anger 'round me swirled
If I was a man, he'd say I was good,
But "lucky" 'cuz I'm a girl.
© Peggy Godfrey
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
Read more of Peggy Godrey's poetry and about her CD and books in our feature here.
About the filmmaker, Kent Gunnufson
Kent told us about how he came to make the film about Peggy Godfrey:
I wasn't always a western music fan, but wanted to see these "real cowboy poets" I'd seen in a press release in the paper. I pitched an idea to my producer for our local CBS affiliate and went to do a segment on the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering. I've returned every year since. Then I met Peggy and asked her if I could do a segment on her for my own independent project, Mountain Magazine.
Originally, it was supposed to be a short segment. Peggy lives three hours from me and so I had to schedule her for a shoot for three consecutive days and I had to get everything at that time. I knew Peggy would be interesting, but after 15 minutes I had all I needed for a 10-minute segment. But there was so much more and I have been back two more times. I had to come back just for specific things like her cutting hay, round-up, and then wait for her to perform at the Arvada Arts Center. Also, I had to wait nearly a year to connect with Tommy. At this time, I knew the story was good enough for a longer half-hour program.
We added poetry and the extras. This also allowed me to include the segment on Peggy's boss. He changed my perception of cowboys and I wanted to show his views on Peggy and ranching. His value system really impressed me and his help was important to making this documentary.
More about Kent Gunnufson:
A rush of wind awakened the mountain's silence. Clouds and falling snow fogged the horizon. The storm took away my balance `while the cold reached my inner warmth. The "white-out" enveloped me. The ordeal drained me physically, and my soul fought from a hope of capturing the grand landscape on film. I anticipated a ray of light to break through the storm and define its form. My expectations faded with the evening's light. In minutes the sun would set behind the mountain. Reaching the top of the
's great Continental Divide had been a long, hard climb, but schussing down in my present state would be perilous. I felt fear and was alone. Would I lose the way back to my log home? America
The snow numbed my face as I skied into the wind. I stopped to gasp for breath. I felt pain as cold air burned down into my chest. This predicament was perilous as some that the historically famous Dyer had experienced over one hundred years earlier. Momentarily John Dyer's words haunted me, "The snow and wind blew so hard that a man could hardly stand...No pen nor tongue can describe its awful appearance." His fate nearly ended several times in blinding snow on
Father Dyer (as the miners affectionately referred to him) skied throughout the Mosquito Pass. gold camps carrying the mail for his livelihood. Rocky Mountain
Unexpectedly the sun beamed through the clouds even as the snow fell. Again Dyer's thoughts came, "The sun penetrated the storm so that the wonders could be clearly seen." My hands had no feeling. I fumbled getting my gloves off, and unzipped my jacket. Out came my camera and I held it steady even though my body shook from hypothermia. The storm dangerously drained me. Time had run out, and I fought a survival instinct to abandon my goal. And then, I got the photograph! I shook convulsively and struggled with putting my camera away. I had to leave.
As I started down, my thoughts drifted off to Dyer's earlier journeys in
. My photographic efforts along these same trails have been enriched with awareness of the history in this region. Dyer's words record his colorful life, while I express my feelings visually. The combination of our separate experiences resulted in Tracking the Snow-Shoe Itinerant and this book interprets a historic account of life in Summit County, Colorado North America's highest region. My interest in what life was like in the past has driven me to document the present for the future.
Kent Gunnufson is an award winning photographer and video producer. He has been photographing the high country since the seventies resulting in
’s first fine-art landscape book, Tracking the Snow-Shoe Itinerant. He has been documenting mountain dwellers since 1982 for his ongoing series "Life at 10,000 Feet." He began SnowStorm Publications in 1981 and SnowStorm Productions in 1994. Kent’s Portfolio One has sold in some of the world’s most distinguished galleries including Camera Obscura in Denver, Colorado. Kent has been acknowledged in California Art Review, reviewed in The Denver Post, featured in Popular Photography, Los Angeles Times, and Denver, Confluence of the Arts. His cable program, "Photo-Talk," has highlighted many nationally renowned photographers such as Cole Weston, Robert Glenn Ketchum, and Al Weber. For four years he also produced segments for Mosaic, on the CBS affiliate KCNC, which won a national award from the National Broadcast Association for Community Affairs and judged by the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Summit County is also publisher of Mountain Magazine and currently in production of "Mountain Magazine," a public affairs program for high country communities. Kent
DVD Order Information
Cowboy Poetry: A Woman Ranching the Rockies
Cowboy Poetry: A Woman Ranching the Rockies, is a warm and insightful portrait of Peggy Godfrey at work and reciting her poetry. From the producers:
Follow the legendary cowboy poet and Moffat Wood Chopping Champion, Peggy Godfrey, as she performs twelve of her poems. A WOMAN RANCHING THE ROCKIES offers an insight into life on the high Rocky Mountain ranches. Can this woman do a man’s work? Peg changes perceptions of what roles women can play on ranches in the West. Also included is the Kent Gunnufson documentary, THE MIRACLE OF PEGGY GODFREY, produced for Public Television which has been featured at several film festivals as well as Denver’s Starz Film Center. This beautifully shot and edited film depicts several facets of Peggy’s life and tells the heart warming story of how she saves a life from the male-dominated ranching world.
The documentary includes Peggy Godfrey reciting:
In 45 Years
First Year Cleaning Ditches
I Need Help
Time Honored Ways
Hank Warner’s Lucky Burro
...and other poems within the film
The DVD is $23.95, but is available for a limited time for $13.95 to CowboyPoetry.com visitors. Visit the Mountain Magazine web site for more, including on-line ordering information (include the word "Molly" in the ordering instructions to be eligible for the discount). The DVD is also available by mail from:
8826 E. Florida Ave., G-6
Denver, CO 80347
On the Cattle Drive from Cowboy Poetry: A Woman Ranching the Rockies
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