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March 5, 2007
Jane Morton shared this photo taken at her family's ranch in Colorado in the 1970s or 1980s.Jane's great-great grandfather went to Colorado in 1872. In 1915, his son bought the land near Fort Morgan, Colorado where the ranch is located.
Jane told us that the photo "...is of the calving shed, which is part of a larger pasture outside the fence where, in November, they bring in the heifers who are going to be calving for the winter. It would be the pasture closest to the house. The corrals there are used during branding. There is a big brush pile, most of it out of view, that provides shelter for the cattle during the winter storms... "
In her award-winning book, Turning to Face the Wind, Jane Morton includes the photo of the same shed, "and the heifers and calves that have been rounded up for branding. The heifers will be separated from the calves and turned out to pasture where they will stand by the fence calling for their calves. At the back of the picture, sitting on a fence are some of those who have come to watch." In the book, the photo accompanies her poem, "The Cows Came First," that ends with a wry observation about her mother, a reluctant ranch wife:
Dad bought one stone for both of them,
and he had it engraved.
A cow and windmill took the place
of flowers she had craved.
When mother said the cows came first;
she knew my dad too well.
Above her final resting place,
that cow will always dwell.
A detail from the photo is used as the cover and within the 2007 edition of Deep West Videos, from the Western Folklife Center. The DVD is a collection of films made by ranch families, "first-hand stories from the rural West that are rooted in the values of life on the land."
The 2007 Deep West Videos collection includes a film made by Bob Luttrell and Jane Morton in 2006, with Jane Morton at the family ranch, telling about the windmills, her father and his tractor, and about aspects of the ranch that have changed over time.
The video will be aired this spring on the Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Network (PBS) along with other films on the "Real Colorado" series.
You can read more about Jane Morton and read some of her poetry here.
February 25, 2007
Poet, writer, reporter, and gathering organizer Smoke Wade shared this circa 1915 photo of his grandfather, J. H. "Jidge" Tippett, taken at the Tippett home ranch on Joseph Creek in Asotin Country, Washington. He writes:
My Grandfather, J. H. "Jidge" Tippett often bragged about being able to lift horses. This post card circa 1915 shows Jidge in the process of lifting one of his favorite horses.
Jidge was a cattle baron of his time and he was very fond of his horses. To be a cattle king, he often displayed moments of bravado such as lifting horses, as well as old-time gunfights.
About the same time this photo was taken, Granddad Jidge was involved in a gunfight. The showdown took place shortly after daylight along Joseph Creek in southeastern Washington. While avoiding injury to himself, Jidge did wound his opponent by shooting him in the leg.
The romantic version is that the gun battle erupted as a result of the two men's interest in a young school marm that they had courted the night before at the schoolhouse dance. The family secret is that the gun fight was a result of the other man insulting my grandfather's horse.
The building is the old horse barn. The ranch is now a headquarters for the Washington Game Department. The home ranch fell as the Hells Canyon ranches fell to the National Hells Canyon Recreation Act.
Smoke sent a photo "of the home ranch barns as they look today...The horse barn is the large red barn on the right":
Read some of Smoke Wade's poetry here, including "Trailing the Herd" and "A Change of Season," which are about effect of the National Hells Canyon Recreation Act, and include more information.
February 19, 2007
Award winning poet, radio host, and humorist Andy Nelson sent this photo from where he lives, in Pinedale, Wyoming, taken on a summer evening in 2005. He comments:
This is a picture of the clouds one evening facing south from our home. The wagon pictured is my Dad's old wagon that I fixed up a bit. I remember as a kid riding in that wagon and it still thrills me to hitch my team up to it and take my kids for a ride.
Read some of Andy Nelson's poetry here and read about his award-winning Clear Out West (C. O. W.) radio show here.
February 12, 2007
About the photo:
Singer and songwriter Patty Clayton, who lives in Hawaii and in Colorado, sent this photo of her great grandparents. She writes:
This is Great Grandpa Benjamin Reeves and his bride, my Great Grandma Julia Nelson Reeves, whom he lovingly called 'Ole' taken around 1908.
(Note the photographer's shadow.)
As her web site bio describes, Patty is "...a fourth-generation descendant of an Oregon Trail emigrant and pioneer. As a young man, her great grandfather emigrated with his parents and siblings by covered wagon in 1867. He eventually settled in central Idaho in 1886, where he engaged himself in cattle, horse and sheep ranching...."
We heard her song, "Ben and Ole's Land," on her new CD, Astraddle a Saddle, and saw the photo of her great grandfather inside:
We asked Patty if she had any other photos to share, and she sent the photos above of her great grandparents, shared the lyrics to "Ben and Ole's Land" (below), and sent a contemporary photo of the barn and old corral in the Craig Mountain Wilderness Area, Wapshilla Creek, near Lewiston, Idaho:
Ben and Ole's Land
On the side of a mountain in Northern Idaho
In a pasture of grass sits a barn and a home
With a view of the valley where the Salmon River runs
This land has weathered endless years of harsh wind and sun
The old barn made of wood has set a hundred years and more
With a roof made of tin that's all tattered and torn
The wind whistles thru the timbers with a haunting mournful sound
Now what used to shelter livestock slowly topples to the ground
The old house still sits solid on foundation made of stone
The old porch still has a swinging wooden door
For two pioneers this was the place they made their home
You can almost hear their footsteps walking 'or the hardwood floor
A cowboy tall and handsome they called Oregon Ben
Met the daughter of a judge and soon they were wed
His bride he called Ole was pretty and real smart
He loved that young girl with all of his heart
Though the years lay long between them they worked hard side by side
Tending cattle and the horses from morning till night
They were later blessed with children who filled their home with love
And every night they bowed their heads and thanked the lord above
Now the old coal forge still sits out in the smith house
And the horseshoes still lie scattered all around
Though the old corral's long empty of the livestock it once held
Their spirits still remain where I walk upon this ground
I have seen it with my eyes; I have touched it with my hands
I have walked upon the ground of this place that is grand
Their voices whisper in the wind as they welcome me in
I have stood upon the ground of Ben and Ole's land
These are the treasures I have found on Ben and Ole's land
© 2004, Patty Clayton, Cimarron Wind Music, BMI
These lyrics poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
This song is on Patty Clayton's Astraddle A Saddle CD.
See our feature about Patty Clayton here and visit Patty Clayton's web site.
See the current Photo of the Week on Page 1 here.
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