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This is Page 54.

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.

July 27, 2009

previous  photos

index of all photos

Verlena Orr recently produced a film, Sky Settles Everything, which is described:

Sky Settles Everything is a feature length documentary filmed in Grangeville, Idaho and the surrounding Camas Prairie. It features Wayne James, a life-long resident and old-time cattle rancher still in operation at more than 70 years of age...

As the subject and star of the film, Wayne James is living proof that the family-style ranching way of life is still alive and well—though possibly fading—in the wide-open ranges of North Central Idaho. A portrait of a landscape and the characters in it, Sky Settles Everything explores an often-romanticized way of life through the eyes of James and his first cousin, the well-known Portland poet Verlena Orr, who grew up on the Idaho prairie where James has worked and lived his entire life. Woven into the storyline, Orr reads her work, rooted in the physical and emotional landscape of growing up on a small farm where the town of Winona was at one time....

The film beautifully covers the workings of James' feeder calf operation—from birth, branding and grazing—to roundup for sale at auction in Lewiston. In addition to James' passion for ranch work and the ranch life, the film also reveals his deep love for his wife, Sandra, who passed away March 11, 2005. The movie was dedicated in her memory at James' request....

We asked Verlena Orr to share some photos and tell us a bit about the family. She writes:

Our family came from Minot, South Dakota to the Camas Prairie in north-central Idaho and homesteaded, in approximately 1906. The homestead is in a deep canyon with small evidence today of what was there in 1907.

This family photo was taken on Camas Prairie, Idaho in about 1907 at our Uncle Charley and Aunt Lizzie Heasley's place, where we played on the hammock on the front porch...What is important to us is that it is one of a very few photos of our grandfather, Alex Orr, and his wife, our grandmother Sadie Heasley Orr.

Standing in front of them, the two children are my father, Harvey Orr, born in 1902 and Wayne's mother, Ethyl Orr James, born in 1899.  The costumes of the children, the big bow in one little girls hair  always amazes me...There was a lot of work making those clothes, not to mention washing and ironing them... I know the clothing was washed on the washboard, with homemade lye soap and ironed with irons heated on the wood stove.

Our grandfather, Alex, was killed in a farm accident when my father, Harvey was about 13. Harvey went as far in school as two days in the 6th grade; when his father was killed he supported his mother and sister.  

Above is Wayne James [the subject of Sky Settles Everything] and his classmates at Columbus School, a one-room school house near Wayne's home. It was taken approximately in 1950 and yes, the kids usually rode their horses to school.

Below is Wayne, about age 14, with all he needed to be a cattle rancher—a good horse and a working dog. This was taken in the early 1950s, a good ten years after Wayne told his parents never to sell their place as he wanted to stay there the rest of his life...and yes, he is still there on the ranch.

The photo below of Wayne in 2007 on Camas Prairie at sunset always makes me feel like standing and clapping and yelling "Author! Author!"

Finally, this is Wayne James in 2007 with his registered quarter horse, Radar (Radar O' Reilly  is Radar's official name):


Verlena Orr continues, commenting about the making of the film, Sky Settles Everything:

In the last 20 years, I've had a nagging concern that some kind of record needed to be made of small ranches, family-sized, that seemed to me to be disappearing along with the old-time ranchers. My cousin Wayne still ranches at age 74, with the help of working dogs, a good cattle horse and two cowboys, friends of many many years.

My first notion, about 1981,was to tape some of the old-timers telling stories.  But the notion of the idea changed, and it became very important to me to make a record of an old-timer cattle rancher, and of his way of life that is fast disappearing.

My cousin Wayne was pleased with the idea and wanted the film to record the love story that is so strong in the movie. His wife, Sandra, passed away about 5 years ago, long before the movie idea hatched. As with many things, that idea didn't follow the usual pattern...I had the idea and the money and knew some talented, enthusiastic younger folk whose passion was film, and off we went to make a movie. Like ranching, the movie was not done for money. Like ranching, it is a lot of hard work and there is no money in it.

Read more about Sky Settles Everything and find a preview at www.waynejamesthemovie.com.

Verlena Orr recites some of her poetry in Sky Settles Everything, including this poem:


I believe in the animal. I have seen
hind legs splintered by traps,
blind hearts limping forward in a jagged line,
loyal dogs on steps of houses
hungry and cold. And I believe it.

I believe in war. I have seen
tracks, the spatter of dehorning blood,
an arc on the side of the barn,
shallow dredged rivers.
I have seen it and I believe it.

I believe in my canyon. I will tell you
what I have seen: sheet lightning
of fear, hate in warmth, and a stone
that is waiting, shining under
water. Still there is light, lying here today.

I have seen it and I believe it.

© 1980, Verlena Orr
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Verlena Orr, who studied with Paul Zarzyski at the University of Montana, has published three chapbooks and a full-length collection of her poems. Her most recent chapbook is One More Time from the Beginning. Read more about it and the poems included in Sky Settles Everything in our news here.

  Three of Verlena Orr's poems are included in Graining the Mare: The Poetry of Ranch Women, edited by Teresa Jordan.


   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.

July 20, 2009


Top photographer Lori Faith Merritt (www.photographybyfaith.com) shares words about and photographs of well-loved octogenarian poet and cowboy Georgie Sicking.

Another photograph of Georgie Sicking by Lori Faith Merritt is featured in the current National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur; poems inspired by the photograph will be posted here Thursday, July 23, 2009.

Lori Faith Merritt writes:

Georgie Sicking was born in Kingman, Arizona in 1921. Through her very exceptional life she has lived passionately and strongly as a wife, mother, mustanger, cowboy poet and Cowboy. Yes, COWBOY...don't call this gal a CowGIRL. In her world, cowboy is a verb...as in "to cowboy."

I met Georgie at a cowboy poets' gathering a couple of years ago and then again when I picked her up from the airport in Tucson this year to deliver her to a night concert/recital with fellow performers STAMPEDE!, dear friend Diane Tribitt, and surprise performer local "celebrity" Mae Camp (I've known Mae since I was a child and I showed horses with her daughter Kathy in 4-H).

Georgie was headed for the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in Sierra Vista, where I've been the official photographer for the last four years. After a wonderful, if exhausting, gathering Diane Tribitt called to let me know that Georgie would be going a ride in the desert with Sam (Diane's fiancé) by their Florence, Arizona home the next morning. I offered a Heart Session to document this important woman and said I'd be there in the morning.

photograph of Georgie Sicking © 2009, Lori Faith Merritt, www.photographybyfaith.com

The morning turned out to be beautiful, with a bright blue sky dotted with cumulous clouds. Georgie scrambled up on a horse trailer fender and her horse moved over close to her. She climbed up into the saddle and off we went into the desert, Sam and Georgie up horseback and Diane and I following on shank's mare. With each stride, the hoofbeats seemed to synchronize with Georgie's heartbeat and the years dropped off her as she sat straighter in the saddle. I felt blessed to photograph her, witnessing this true Cowboy on her new fuzzy flea-bit friend.

In one of the pictures shown here, the gelding shows a bit of a "snotty" attitude and I said to
Georgie that he fit her well. She threw her head back and laughed and said "I'll take that as a compliment!" What a gal this Cowboy is.

photograph of Georgie Sicking © 2009, Lori Faith Merritt, www.photographybyfaith.com

I sent a picture to cowboypoetry.com, for Georgie's poetry page:

photograph of Georgie Sicking © 2009, Lori Faith Merritt, www.photographybyfaith.com

and also one of Sam and Georgie riding into the desert for the Art Spur feature, where poets are inspired by a photograph or painting to write a poem. The photograph I sent for Art Spur is titled "Heading Out."

Reproduction prohibited without express written permission
"Heading Out"
© 2009, Lori Faith Merritt, www.photographybyfaith.com

The photograph on Georgie's page was seen by the curator of the National Cowgirl Museum, where Georgie is a Hall of Fame recipient. They are creating an exhibit of Georgie for an upcoming show, when a pair of Georgie's spurs will be added to the museum's collection, and the picture above where the little grey has perked ears and Georgie is looking forward to being included in this exhibit.

shank's mare = on foot


Lori Faith Merritt is familiar to many through her photography for cowboy poetry and music gatherings. Following is her submitted biography:

Lori Faith Merritt specializes in equine  images that transcend the ordinary, in the art of connection. She focuses on documenting western culture as well, including Western music and poetry artists, and has photographed the coming of age ceremonies for the N'dee (Apache) since 1994.

Passion is evident in the images that portray how she feels about what she is experiencing rather than simply presenting what the camera sees, resulting in evocative and insightful imagery. Her life has centered on horses for 38 years and her life experiences allow her to communicate with horses and horse people alike, providing an environment of integration vs. isolation. Lori Faith's images have been published in print, websites, and utilized in advertising, Western music and poet artist's promotions, and are enjoyed by private collectors. A "photographers" photographer, Lori Faith Merritt has provided bio photographs for several well known photographers. She has served as official photographer for special events, such as schooling through "A" horse shows, the Western Music Association's Festival and Awards, National Day of the Cowboy events, Festival of the West, and many others. Lori Faith has established herself as a photographer who provides unique memorable images during the event and on privately scheduled side shoots. Based in Tucson, Arizona, she travels extensively to provide customized photography for ranch shoots, barn calls, and portrait sessions, and to gather images for her portfolio.
Her work has been accepted in such juried shows as Art Without Walls, in New York and has been published internationally with clients including Europe's Bit Magazine, National Geographic, Cowboys and Indians, Western Horseman and many additional publications. Her work has inspired painters internationally. She donates much of her time, as well as website work and images and prints, to horse rescues, animal charities, and provides heart sessions to people and animals who touch her heart and whom she feels must be documented.

See many images and read more about Lori Faith Merritt at her web site:

Photography By Faith "The Art of Connection"

her blog:

and her MySpace page:



   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.

July 13, 2009

South Dakota rancher, writer, and poet Robert Dennis writes:

Here are a couple of pictures of Mijo, my ex-stallion. In this picture, he is carrying a spade bit in his mouth, for the first time. You will notice he also has a hackamore, which consists of a bosal for the noseband and a twisted horse hair rope called a mecate, which are attached to the bosal for reins. This is a traditional set up in the making of a straight up bridle horse.

He will pack the spade bit while also carrying the bosal, and both will be used together to signal him for his movements. He already understands all the signals from the bosal and as he is packing. Now he will learn to operate from slight signals from the spade also.

The spade bit is as old as horsemanship and came to this country with the Spaniards and is still used today. The spade operates off from signals instead of corrections, as so many other western and English bits were designed to do. Contrary to popular opinion, the spade is a very kind and mild bit when used properly. "It's not the bit, it's the hands," is an old expression of horsemen meaning that light hands never cause pain, no matter what bit is used and rough hands will cause pain no matter what bit is used.

There are several traditional styles of cheek pieces and mouth pieces. I am using a Santa Barbra cheek and it has a small rounded spoon mouth piece on Mijo. The Santa Barbra cheek piece is said to be the most perfectly balanced.

A well-trained straight up bridle horse is a pleasure to ride and watch!


Robert Dennis has contributed other interesting photos to Picture the West, including:

2009 calving and branding on the Dennis Ranch

  Summer ranch photos

Photos taken while he was "out riding on yearlings"

Photos of his mares and colts

Family photos from the 1920s and 1940s

Photos and stories from his ranch and Red Owl

Area photos from the early 1900s

rdfatheruncles.jpg (54358 bytes) Family photos from the 1920s

Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski

Read more about Robert Dennis and read some of his 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.


















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

See an index of all past photos here.





















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

See an index of all past photos here.








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