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This is Page 35.

See some past weeks' photos below.

See an index of all past weeks' photos here.

See Page 1 here with the current photo of the week.

 

We welcome your pictures. We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We're looking for vintage photos and contemporary photos: family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo to share, email us for information about sending it to us.

Each week, we'll post selected photos from those received. We'll also share some photos posted previously elsewhere at CowboyPoetry.com.

 

Send your photo.

 Email us for information about sending it to us.

 

 

If you enjoy this feature, you may also be interested in our 
Western Memories Project, the personal recollections— many with photos— contributed by BAR-D visitors.  Your stories and photos are welcome.


October  20, 2008


previous weeks' photos

index of all photos


 

Oklahoma poet Janice Chapman shares photos of her horses. She told us:

Getting your favorite cow horse into wire that results in cut legs is never something a cowgirl or cowboy wants to do. But these things happen from time to time. My gelding, Big Red, inherited a cut just above the hock on his left back leg that cut into the ligament. We are having to change the dressings and doctor the wound every day now. And even after the wound heals it will be a while before he can be used in his favorite job—working cattle.


 

In my case I had told the man I bought the pasture from he could use Big Red any time he needed him for cattle, as he was having to rely on borrowing horses when he needed one. When you have a well- trained cow horse, word gets around. And there have been others who, because of his reputation and because he is friendly and easy to catch, have borrowed him off and on. I have had two people tell me it takes a professional cowboy to stay with him when he is working cattle.

I have no way of knowing which of these persons was riding my gelding when his leg was cut. The vet said he had been ridden hard and still had girth marks underneath his stomach. So evidently he had been ridden that morning by someone. I didn't mind him being borrowed and returned. But I could have had a crippled horse had we not fortunately gone to the pasture that same day to work with a couple of the fillies. Now it will be April before we can ride him again, and I will have to lock the pasture gate, and maybe post a few more Private Property and No Trespassing signs. Meanwhile, he seems to be doing really good. Our vet told me last week if Big Red is walking okay on that leg, we just bought a little piece of luck.


 

Janice Chapman has shared other photos in Picture the West, including:

  a horse photo, here

  photos of her piece of Oklahoma and more about her horses, here.


Read some of Janice Chapman's poetry here.

 

 


   Share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo and story to share, email us.


October 13, 2008

 

Writer and cowboy poet Smoke Wade was raised on a ranch in the Hells Canyon region of the Snake River along the Idaho-Oregon border. Smoke Wade had a story to go along with his recent pack string photos (posted for the week of September 29, 2008). That most interesting story somehow went astray in cyberspace, and now it is united here with his photos, for "the rest of the story":

One day in June of 1960, and without warning, my father told me to saddle my horse and load it in the truck. He also told me to pack a few belongings. for I would be gone awhile. We drove for hours up a winding dirt road that led from our home ranch to the high summer range above Hells Canyon. We drove along rivers and streams with colorful names such as the Grande Ronde River, Joseph Creek, Cottonwood Creek and Horse Creek. At the head of Horse Creek we took a side road to Downey Saddle where we could look thousands of feet below at the Snake River—shining like a silver thread at the bottom of Hells Canyon. Here he told me to unload my horse and belongings from the truck and wait.

"Wait until they come this way. This is your summer job," he said.

Smoke Wade, age 15, leading the pack string. By counting the shadows, one can tell there are seven mules in the pack string. The mules were large in stature, and they tend to dwarf the horse I was riding. As a side note, when a rider spends this much time with a horse, riding daily for weeks at a time, the horse and rider do become bonded very much as related in cowboy poetry and music. The two become as one, the rider and the horse—much like best of friends.


I sat in the shade of a large pine tree and watched as my father left to make the three-hour journey back to the ranch in his truck. I swallowed my fear and waited while watching the sun climb high in the sky. I was yet to celebrate my fifteenth birthday.

Two hours later they came over the brow of the ridge top. Sheep! Hundreds of noisy sheep guided along by two lone herders and their dogs. The sheep herd had been on the trail for three days making the uphill climb from the bottom of Hells Canyon to the ridge top five thousand feet above. Hells Canyon is known as the deepest gorge in North America. My summer job was to join this woolly apparition and follow in the footsteps of my father, for he had herded sheep along this same route in his youth.

The herders, Virgil Winters and Casey Jones, soon made me aware of my duties. I was to be the camp tender and the muleskinner. My job was to lead the pack string, load and unload the mules, set up the camp, haul water, gather wood, take down the camp and help herd sheep when I had time. There was a tent to set up for the two herders to sleep in. I slept on the ground under the stars. And this became my daily routine as we moved the sheep 75 miles from the winter ranch to summer pasture in the higher elevations of the snow capped Wallowa Mountains in north eastern Oregon, then back again.

Loading a mule as the sun comes up. Breakfast is over and the camp is packed. This photo shows the pack boxes that food and cooking ware were loaded in. The rope in the foreground is a tether line stretched between the trees. The mules were tied to the tether line at night so they would not wander. The horses were allowed more freedom by placing leather hobbles on their front legs. They could hop around at night but would not roam far away.


With over two thousand head of sheep, we moved in this fashion averaging less than six miles a day. By the third day I was comfortable leading the seven mules in the pack string. At night coyotes and mountain lions made their attacks on the sleeping band of sheep and the night herder would scare them off with a rifle shot. There is no sound more chilling that the scream of a cougar at 2:00 a.m.

The mules were a cantankerous bunch. Each had his order in the pack string and the order could never be changed without creating chaos. When properly packed with the correct weight and placed in the proper order, the pack string was peaceful and performed their duties without disruption. I can no longer recall most of their names. Pedro was the large white lead mule. He was a cross with a donkey and draft horse and was gentle to ride.

Pedro was the big white mule that was always the lead mule of the pack string. He was very gentle and broke to ride. One day, my parents visited where we were camped with the sheep close to a road. My three little sisters couldn't resist taking turns riding Pedro. Sitting on top of the pack boxes on Pedro's back was probably similar to riding a camel.


The small mule, Johnny, always brought up the rear for he liked to follow. Some where in the middle was Molly and she was never happy with any arrangement and she caused the most trouble. After two weeks or more on the trail, we came to the town of Enterprise, Oregon and trailed the sheep right down the main street of town. Leaving town, we began the steep ascent to the peaks of the Wallowa Mountains.

(circa 1955) Mules were often called upon to carry odd sized loads in the steep Hells Canyon country. The variety of loads ranged from heavy items such as cast iron cook stoves and dismantled farm equipment to bulky loads such as sacks of grain or bags of wool. In this photo, my uncle, on the left, and my father, on the right, secure a freshly slaughtered steer to the back of a mule. The mule's facial expression and pointed back ears indicate its displeasure with this load.


Somewhere in the dead center of town, a rope got tangled under the tail of one of the mules, which caused a disruption with the entire pack string. Before the problem was solved, the seven mules had created what we called a "spaghetti ball," a tangled mess of mules with my horse and me caught in the middle. The mules were bucking and kicking and trying to throw their packs. The town folk came out of their shops and watched and cheered. Apparently the tangled pack string was just the type of entertainment they had been waiting all summer for. After securing order with the pack string, I rode out of town hiding my embarrassment.

Leaving the town of Enterprise, Oregon for the high Wallowa Mountains. The diamond hitch can be seen on the top of the pack of the last mule. The lead rope or halter rope of each mule is tied to the pack saddle of the mule in front of it. The mule skinner holds the halter rope of the lead mule in his hand. Tying the lead rope off to the saddle horn could prove to be disastrous should the mules begin to act up.


Packing and leading a pack string of mules required learning several skills. I was already an accomplished horseman. I had packed and led a single mule before. The string of seven mules was a challenge to say the least. I learned to "throw" a diamond hitch to secure the loads on the packsaddle. Some of the mules carried pack boxes, which required a barrel hitch or box hitch to hold in place. And every knot had to be secure, for if a load came loose on a single mule, mutiny would develop through out the entire pack string. At times we rode along narrow trails with interesting names like "Eagles Nest" or "Suicide Trail." In these places, the slightest mishap could send mules, horse and rider over the steep trail edge to certain doom hundreds of feet below.

Often, we followed the "National Stock Drive Trail," a trail blazed through the wilderness government land by Civilian Conservation Corps workers in the 1930’s. The trails were marked with small yellow signs and blazing— removing a section of barkon the trees. It was the original intent that these trails would forever remain for stockmen to drive their herds from winter to summer pasture, or perhaps to market. All sign of these regional trails are now obliterated through neglect and forest fires.

(circa 1955) Some ranchers preferred pack horses to mules. In this photo, my father leads a mixed string of four horses and one mule. The animals are loaded with rock salt destined for the higher elevations of the canyon grazing country. Since both sheep and cattle required salt, the ranchers would often pool together to purchase a box car load of rock salt. Each allotment would eventually find its way to the home ranch for distribution to vastly scattered salt licks. The mule in this photo is the same mule, Johnny Mule, that brought up the rear of my sheep camp pack string.


Somewhere along the trail at a remote campsite, we celebrated my 15th birthday around the evening campfire. The herders, Virgil and Casey, found a bottle of Silver Satin wine to celebrate with. We exchanged stories of our lives as the coyotes howled and the mules brayed. And it was in this manner in the summer of 1960, that a young cowboy began his rite of passage into manhood.

I never regretted the summer spent herding sheep and leading a pack string of mules, for I was always on horseback, and that was close to being a cowboy. Now, I alone remain from this event. The sheep, mules, sheepherders, horses, dogs, and owner of the sheep have all been gone for years. Only these photos and my memories remain. But what rich, rewarding memories there are. For I was once a muleskinner for the Cache Creek sheep ranch and only the loss of my memory will erase this event from history.

This story is also included in our Western Memories feature.

 

Previously, Smoke Wade has shared many interesting stories and photos, including:

  photos and recollections about summer haying

  photos and recollections that center around log troughs

photos from the 1952 branding of the Hashknife calves at the Cactus Flat branding corral, posted here

a 1905 photo of the one-room school in Joseph Creek, Washington, which he attended for six years (and which his grandmother, mother, brother, cousins, aunt and uncles attended), more photos, and some history and recollections, which you can see here.

smokevintagesmo.JPG (17853 bytes) a circa 1915 photo of his grandfather, J. H. "Jidge" Tippett, taken at the Tippett home ranch on Joseph Creek in Asotin Country, Washington, and other photos of the area, which you can see here.

  photos of the gold mining ghost town, Bodie, California, which you can see here

and some contemporary photos from Rachel, Nevada, posted here.


photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski; see her gallery of western performers and others at her site here.

Read some of Smoke Wade's poetry here.

You can email Smoke Wade.


   Share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo and story to share, email us.


 

October 6, 2008

Alberta poet Doris Daley shared photos from a Calgary Stampede (calgarystampede.com) corporate trail ride on October 2, 2008, "in the blazing autumn Rocky Mountain foothills." 

 

She told us:

The Stampede’s Corporate Relations committee sponsored the ride to give high-profile Calgary businesswomen a day on horseback to remember.

The ranch we rode through is home to the Stampede’s young bucking stock. These are current and future superstars in the Stampede’s "Born to Buck" program, including Papa Smurf. Their job is to eat grass and grow bigger. And of course, buck.

Riding through a swirling herd of 40-50 Calgary Stampede horses, with Mother Nature outdoing herself in a gold and orange show-of-shows: magic!  If you look closely at the horse pictures, you can see the Stampede’s C Lazy S brand (front left shoulder).
 

The group stopped for a picnic at the top of a high ridge, where I recited several poems including (with a perfect backdrop) "Shades of the West."

Shades of the West

Out where the wind sweeps the prairie
Out where the wild eagles fly
When God sends a rain to scrub the world clean
A rainbow gets hung in the sky

But look and you might see another
And you'll find yourself doubly blessed
It's a rainbow you see with your heartstrings
Painted in shades of the west.

Red is a hot iron flaming
Red is a cow on the prod
Red is a ribbon of paint in the sky
Brushed on by the hand of God

Orange is Indian Summer
With leaves twirling gold somersaults
Orange is whirling in three quarter time
When the band plays the harvest moon waltz

Yellow is slickers on saddles
Yellow is spuds with the roast
Yellows a golden October sun
That butters the prairie like toast

Indigo lights up the heavens
Indigo night shrouds the trees
Indigo flaps on the clothesline in spring
When Levi’s blow stiff in the breeze

Violet is crocus and lupines
Violet tastes saskatoon sweet
Violet is royalty riding the range
With a kingdom of grass at your feet

Blue is the mist in the valley
Blue is a sapphire dome
Blue is the worry and lonesome you feel
When riders are late getting home

Green is the sweet smell of April
Green is the frost in the ground
Green is the jingle and jig in your step
When beef brings a dollar a pound

Out where the wind sweeps the prairie
Out where the wild eagles fly
When God sends a rain to scrub the world clean
A rainbow gets hung in the sky

But look and you might see another
And you'll find yourself doubly blessed
It's a rainbow you see with your heartstrings
Painted in the shades of the west.

© 2005, Eli Barsi/Doris Daley, CopperStar Publishing/Fiddle DD Enterprises, Socan
All rights reserved


photo by M. Knowler

Read some of Doris Daley's poetry here.

Visit her web site: www.dorisdaley.com

 


  Share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo and story to share, email us.


September 29, 2008

see the October 13, 2008 entry above

 


 Please share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

We need your photos. If you enjoy this feature, help keep it going by sharing your photos.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo and story to share, email us.


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Tell us your stories!  If you have a photo to share, email us.

See past weeks' photos starting with the most recent, here.

See an index of all past weeks' photos here.

 

 

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