Archive for category Photography

On the Trail

Monday night from the trail.

We had such a beautiful sunset!

Then Tuesday morning – on the move:

For most of the drive – two of the wagons drive ahead. Then comes the cattle drive (top of the hill). The rest of the wagons follow behind.

Can I take a moment to give a shout out to the law enforcement and highway workers who have provided escorts to the cattle drive? I have spoken to many, many of these people out on the road (“Hi! I’m the camera crew. I’m following the drive and making a movie!”) Every one has been so helpful. They have provided such a level of safety and assistance. Without this, this cattle drive would not have been possible.

Who are the other unsung heroes of the cattle drive?

The hosts. Property owners, farmers, and ranchers all along the route have allowed the cattle and the drovers to stay on their property. It can be a lot of disruption to have so much traffic on your road. At each stop, cow camp is open from 3 to 6. It is wonderful to have members of the public come out to share in this cattle drive experience. The property owners who have allowed us to stay on their property have been amazing.

I met the owners where the cattle drive camped on Tuesday night, and you could not find more helpful, gracious people. That has been my experience along the whole route.

The owners allowed me to access their private property to go get some amazing footage. And it was nice that the cattle had such a pleasant, comfortable place to stay!

I have had a couple of questions that go, “Where did these cattle…come from?” “Did people volunteer to let their cattle be a part of the drive?”

The answer is: The cattle are rented!

In 2017, for a ceremonial cattle drive – you have to rent cattle.

I’m sure that in the 1870’s, those drovers would have laughed at the concept!

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Cow Patty Bingo

Say what?

I saw those words and…well…I didn’t know what to make of it.

The Cattle Drive made it to Caldwell, Kansas on Saturday. In the olden days, Caldwell was a railhead. It was the destination (or one of the destinations depending on the year).

Downtown Caldwell had the whole of the main street marked off into a grid.

Caldwell is rich in history and proud of its heritage.

The trail riders had a wonderful turnout as they paraded through Caldwell.

Cow camp is on the north side of Caldwell. Cowboys are camping on the near side of this pond. The cattle have a great pasture on the other side of this pond.

The sky gave us some sprinkles now and again.

I asked Keith Hawkins, one of the wagon drivers, “What happens if it rains?” He said, “We keep on driving.”

So what, you ask, is cow patty bingo?

After the parade…if your rectangle on the grid had a cow patty dropped on it during the parade…you won a prize.

Looks like more than one prize was given out.

Maybe a whole lot of prizes!

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When we decided to get into the movie business…

Eleven years ago – I decided: “I want to direct movies!”

But why limit yourself to just one goal? That expanded to, “I want to be involved in all aspects of the film business.”

I didn’t know it, but my friend Don was always interested in this, too. Who knew? Over beers at the bar one night, we agreed to get into the movie business together.

Well, why not? It’s fun. We enjoy it.

We started acting. We got our own home video cameras and started shooting. We started with Windows Movie Maker editing software.

Over the years, we have upgraded technology. We have learned and learned and learned, and all of this was like a giant leap of faith: jump off a cliff and see where you land!

But…when we were just starting out – if you think about getting into the movie business, you think of having your own private trailer and someone knocking on the door saying, “Five minutes, Miss Johnson.”

You think of those black and white movies of the forties where the women wore the glamorous satin dressing gowns.

You think of how it is to have someone do your hair. Someone else does your makeup.

Film sets have catering crews.

They provide those canvas chairs for you to sit in when you are not on camera – and sometimes they stencil your name on the back. When you are awaiting your turn, they have a green room, almost always an indoor, climate controlled comfortable place – with snacks!

When you think about it – you think about the fun stuff.

But what is the reality?

Well, for one – we have really comfortable chairs!

I was standing on the side of the highway waiting for the cattle drive to come by. Lucky there was this chunk of concrete. You better believe I sat down. Think I was out there for over 45 minutes on that one shot. And I was lucky to have this sitable apparatus there. Because on this set – there ain’t no chairs! I have stood more this week, than in the past three months all put together!

While I sat there, I was enjoying…My Own Green Room:

Well, it was green! Does that count?

It was green there. It just wasn’t a room. I achieved 50% of the goal anyway. đŸ™‚

I even made a new friend:

When you are on someone else’s set – it is polite not to be destructive. I tried not to intrude on his home too much.

One day, when Don and I had pulled a 12 hour day – out in the heat and bugs and sweat and heat and pollen and sun and heat…I said, “We need a crew!”

Don looked at me, and pointed to himself. He said, “I’m your crew!”

To that job description you can add: cinematographer, director, producer, driver, camera operator, location scout, movie consultant, and historical consultant (I didn’t know it until we agreed to this gig, but Don went on the ’93 cattle drive as a drover. I am always asking him for knowledge about cattle drives and cowboyin’.)

When you think of a film set, you think of a big warehouse with sets inside, and people wait outside while the red light goes round and round and round.

In our world, the set is mobile. You find yourself in places you never dreamed you’d be:

Like this:

These grasses are taller than the hood of my pickup. The trail boss’ husband has been so kind to help and he has helped me a lot. On this location, he called out, “Amanda, after we leave here, you’d better check for ticks.”

I was glad for the warning.

But wow…you can say one thing: This reality of movie making ain’t like what you see in the movies.

On this set – what else do you have to contend with?

Well, that’d be:

And I mean that literally!

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Thursday evening on the trail

96*F.

Not a shade tree in sight!

Three or four participants pitch tents. Most drovers sleep on the ground.

It’s hot being out in the open. It’s even hotter standing over this fire.

The best thing to do: find a bit of shade – wherever you can.

The thing that has most surprised me about this whole cattle drive experience:

The sense of community. I didn’t expect that. I thought that people participated in these things for their own reasons: to play cowboy; for a lark; for a vacation; to get to ride your horse.

But this experience – it’s more than that. I have witnessed people working together in the spirit of creating something good. People are not isolated. They are together – sharing an experience that none of us will ever forget.

I am only a moviemaker. I am not a full time participant. I am not riding a horse or riding a wagon. I take my own vehicle and drive (with my air conditioner ON) to the trail.

Even at that, the people involved have welcomed me and treated me as part of the team.

The sense of community and friendship has been extraordinary.

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Cattle Drive – Day 3

Thursday Sunrise

It was an early start to the cattle drive. Drovers packed their bedrolls before dawn.

Chuckwagon cooks made breakfast before dawn.

Cowboys ate before dawn.

Then the cattle were rounded up, ready to start the day’s drive.

And….they’re off!

And me…standing there on my feet on the dirt road  – I wish I had a horse so I could go on with them.

This is what it looks like when they drive away.

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Head ’em up – Move ’em out

The 2017 Chisholm Trail Cattle drive is under way!

Cowboys camped out under the stars last night, and first thing this morning – before daybreak – they had the cattle rounded up.

Cattle milling

On the move!

 

This was part of supper last night! Talk about skillet envy!

Yum!

Need a chair?

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Cattle drive – getting ready!

The cattle are here!

Somehow or other, the drovers have to get these cattle trained to gather into a herd, and move on command.

Even when they are finding the best hiding places:

There is so much they have to do to get ready. Permissions for places to camp at night. Places for the cattle to graze and have water. Permissions for what roads to drive on. On highways, they need law enforcement escorts.

You have to consider things like pipeline right of ways, railroad crossings, road construction, oil field equipment, etc. You have to make sure the horses have water and feed. You have to have supplies for the drovers.

You have to find experienced drovers, experienced wagonmasters, experienced trail cooks.

The amount of work involved is enormous. A cattle drive doesn’t just happen. It takes literally years worth of work to get to your starting day.

Horses have to get shod:

Sage getting horseshoes

Wagons have to be hauled out to the starting place:

The orange tongue really jumps out at you. Did they have orange paint in the old days? ha!

Even loading the longhorns and getting them to the starting place is not easy:

Before:

During:

Yeah…I stood there for about an hour and these longhorns – named Caldwell and Fleetwood – did NOT want to get into that trailer!

They don’t just go places because you want them to. They do have a mind of their own!

Then they moved them about twelve miles from their own pasture to the starting place of the cattle drive. But…what happens when you have a flat?

This 2017 Cattle drive is an adventure that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are thrilled to be able to part a part of it.

Being a part of this – as both a movie maker and an observer – is both an honor and honestly – quite scary! When this happens on the trail, then the people who are there are the ones who can experience it. But if we can capture video footage and make a movie and tell a story – then many, many people can share in the experience. For years down the line – people can see this movie and learn about the life of how it was to be a Cowboy and drive Cattle on the Chisholm Trail. I alternate between going “this is sooo cool!” and “wow…to even attempt to make this movie is a HUGE undertaking”.

I’ll be posting updates here as we go along.

You may also follow the O-K Chisholm Trail 150 Cattle Drive facebook page.

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