Archive for category Cowboy Poetry

Cowboy poetry

Things are progressing on the post production of the Chisholm Trail Cattle Drive movie.

A lot of the work involves us at a computer. Not a lot to blog about there, and that kind of work doesn’t seem to make for fun stories.

But…on occasion…you get to work with talented people who sure do make you smile.

Cowboy poet, Sam Wylie, entertained us with cowboy poetry out on the trail. All along, I thought how neat it would be if we could include some of his poems in the movie.

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I asked Sam, and he said yes, he’d participate. We arranged to meet at 10 am. At 9am, I am out on my porch, and the weather was nice and the wind was calm.

Then the wind hit. And a cold front. And lots of wind noise. We wanted to film outdoors, so we went to Carmen’s (the trail boss) horse barn, and used it to block the wind.

Sam (on the left, above) reads a poem, while Sonny Harrison (right) listens. Both of these men were drovers on the cattle drive.

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Sonny gears up to read a poem.

We made it for an hour, working outdoors in that cold and wind. I didn’t want to stay out that long, but it was so much fun, working with these talented men, I kept asking them to do additional readings and additional locations.

We came back to my home recording studio, to record the cowboy poetry in some sort of controlled audio environment.

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Sam Wylie reads his poetry in studio.

The whole session went well. It’ll be fun to see how all this comes together: video, audio, music, sound FX, voice over, poetry…the list goes on and on.


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Cattle drive! It’s almost here!

In a few more days – I get to go and roam

Me ‘n’ the other cattle – and a bay and a sorrel and a roan

Headin’ to the north – just like in the good ole days

We’ll walk for a few ole miles, then find a pasture and graze


We’ll bed down there at night – at daybreak we’re on the move

Lots and lots of hoofprints made – in dirt by many hooves

Drovers ride in the dust – and bed down on the ground

Cattle lowing in the night – fall asleep to the sound


Why do we undertake – this task so rare and bold?

Why do it this-a-way – as they did in days of old?

So we’ll remember how it was – in the days before the rail

As we educate and celebrate – the Old Chisholm Trail

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The Trail

The Trail

This is a youtube link to a video about the upcoming Chisholm Trail Cattle drive this September.

The governors of Kansas and Oklahoma signed proclamations about the 2017 Chisholm Trail Cattle Drive. Riders have ridden down (south) the Chisholm Trail, taking the ceremonial scrolls with them.

This past Monday, they rode a segment, and I got to go along to film.

[Do you remember that episode of M*A*S*H where they are going to watch an old western movie for movie night – I think it’s “My Darling Clementine”, and Colonel Potter uses the line, “It’s got horses, cowboys and…horses!”]

I smile as I remember that, because on Monday we filmed horses, cowgirls and horses! The ride was approximately eleven miles. It was a nice day, but the wind was high.

When you film something such as this, for a documentary film, as the person with the camera, you take what you can get. You scramble on the fly to find the shot, and you set up and get the shot. Or…not. This isn’t studio filmmaking, where you control every aspect of everything. No…on this one, you try to be as unobtrusive as possible and stay out of the way. Meanwhile, you hope you get some decent shots to use, but there is no guarantee. With this particular shoot, with no environmental control whatsoever…you know you’re going to have wind noise. The audio track from the shoot will be virtually unusable.

Conclusion: we had better come up with something else to use, then.

Tuesday, early, I started working on an idea for the cowboy poetry: The Trail. Cowboy poetry is something I want to explore. I’ve been doing a lot of writing this spring – novels, songs and poems, but not cowboy poetry.

The poem is entitled: The Trail.  It came off pretty good. (See previous blog entry.)

Tuesday, I needed the highway shots, so I called a friend who has a utility vehicle that would be much easier to film out of than my car. He was kind enough to help me get the shot I needed, then we drove around in the country, looking for additional shots I wanted.

Wednesday, putting this video together seemed like too big a hill to climb. You know those days…taking on a big project it just too much. I went to lunch and on the way home, I thought of the shot of the Chisholm Trail marker. I drove out to get that, and got a few more shots as well.

Then I started editing it together. Got about 1/3 of the way through, and needed a break. Went to get a coffee and drive around, just as a way to clear my head. Came back, nose to the grindstone, and got the bulk of the video together. It came off well – better than I had hoped. Of course, you always want it to be more. I want more, better, fancier shots. This was what I had, and I utilized it the best I had. I cut the video to the rhythm of the cowboy poetry. I decided I needed some acoustic guitar over the end title cards.

Thursday we had storms. I wanted to run the video by the organizers of the cattle drive. When the first wave of storms went by, I took the computer and we went over the rough cut. I made notes on changes. But, we need more shots. They drove me out to get a shot of some longhorns. In the meantime, the next wave of storms are brewing, and you can see lightning in the background.

We got back before the storms hit, and I didn’t want to be on the computer.

Friday morning, I am not sleeping as usual, and in my head I am going over the list of edits to make. I went to the software and worked on that, and worked to get a render.

This is day five of actual work on the project, but there were perhaps three days before Monday, when I was thinking it through and trying to figure out how to film this.

We will gear up to film a documentary about the Chisholm Trail 150 cattle drive in September. Can’t wait!

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The Chisholm Trail – original Cowboy Poetry by Amanda Ball

The trail

In modern times, it’s a ribbon of concrete and asphalt
big rigs haul cattle to and fro – they make a full exalt
one modern driver conducts a musical, a symphony of shifting gears
they’ve been doing it this way – for nigh onto a hundred years

We might take for granted – this ease of moving beef
load ’em up and move ’em out – it’s a common enough belief
At seventy mile an hour – they roll on down the fray
But what about before that – when there was no ribbon of highway?

In the land before the fences, – Americans did love their beef
But how did they get it from here to there, to have enough to eat?
A man had a vision – cattle north we will drive
We’ll start off down in Texas – in Kansas we will arrive

His name was Jesse Chisholm – After him they named the Trail
Because he charted the path down – through wind and rain and hail
With drovers manning horses, those cattle they did move
Taking beef to the masses – whose lives he did improve

Now we do commemorate – it’s been one hundred and fifty years
we take time to educate – about the history of moving steers
It wasn’t always so easy – after all – beef doesn’t come from the grocery store
No it wasn’t always so easy- it takes a whole lot more

It’s important to remember – the history of moving bovine
so we had a ceremony – scrolls the governors did sign
We ride back down the trail – history to Celebrate
We chart a faithful path – The Trail we Commemorate

It’s important to remember – the way things used to be
Things weren’t always so easy – we take a lot for granted, you see
modern riders will reenact – we are honored to tell the tale
This September, once again, we will ride – The good ole Chisholm Trail



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