My post today is a song I collaborated on many years ago with an Alberta Cowboy Poet by the name of Buddy Gale. It was while I was in my “hay-day” as a singing cowgirl. If you want to know more about those days here is the FB link to Katie, The Cariboo Song Rider
I took the photo for the song “Beauty” out in Exeter Valley (Bridge Creek Estate Ranch). You can just see the Highlands where the cattle are in the distance. When I was kid this was always a great place to ride.
This song is a collaboration between Buddy Gale and myself, Katie Kidwell. Originally a poem by Buddy called “Beauty”; additional lines and music made it a song. Recorded by Gordon Maxwell who is known as Ian Tyson’s bass player of many years. I am playing the acoustic autoharp in this recording.
In my poem, “Married With Cows”, I take aim. I hope the poem hits your funny bone.Here’s some background.
While I was on the ranch, I gave it my best shot to be part of the Canadian music scene.My ability to write about my experiences is one of my strengths. For this, I was hired by Ian Tyson.He was looking for a performer to represent the cowgirl at his Cowboyography Show during Expo ’86. Writing songs about cows and fencing had an audience…and now I had permission to write more!
For his show, I wrote four songs of which there was time for three.After twenty-one shows that week, I was geared up to play my spurs on both sides of the border!What a wonderful time. So many beautiful “salt of the earth” people to be around.Like me, they were expressing themselves and their worlds.
Later I wrote “Married With Cows” to put into perspective all those phone calls I’d had on the ranch. There I made cold calls to agents and managers I had heard of.
Life is more satisfying when you can see the funny side of things. Especially when you don’t have to make it up. Even though…it meant I would never be part of the Canadian music scene or on the radio. When was the last time you heard spurs played over the air?
Not Just My Experience…
“Married With Cows” was on at Poetry poem.While it was there, I heard from several men (husbands). They wanted me to know the same events had happened to their wives. They felt bad about it.
So this is what I found to be true as a folk performer.
Everyone loves a good song and a sincere presentation.Everyone loves to laugh and learn a little about the country they are visiting.
So after the cowboy gatherings, I started performing for bus and rail tours. I no longer aimed for agents or managers. From my homeland, I sang to the travelling world about the wonders of the Cariboo as a “singing cowgirl”.Spur playing included and I also taught the Cariboo Yodel!
I wanted to be a singer and sing my own true songs… They wanted to know my measurements, was I a redhead or a blonde? And just how old are you? And before you send your tape… Send us a great big picture and for the last five years – your weight. “We’re not signing married women – their husbands make them quit! With years and years of experience – our investments have to stick!” So I didn’t send that picture, my hair type or my weight. I didn’t bother fooling them – and I never sent a tape. For the rules, they were describing I never could kowtow… so I told them, “I ain’t single, I’m married with cows!”
Lots of folks are trying to improve themselves and their worlds. But does it work? If you are trying to improve the you that isn’t you, what will you get? A better false self?
If you know, you are different, and you somehow don’t fit with the herd…Congratulations! But if you have been plodding along with the herd…now’s the time to set your sights higher. YOU deserve it. The real YOU wants it — NOW!
So give some thought to opening up, to a larger YOU emerging – the real YOU and don’t care what other’s think. If they’re stuck in the herd, they’re probably high on methane gas!
In celebration of YOU getting out of your rut this year and into a new adventure; I give YOU this poem to read. Let me know if any of this makes sense to YOU.
Today, I thought I’d share the story of my last Cariboo horse. Being an Irish girl from a family of Irish names, it fits his name was Paddy. Bruce Kiskaddon would have liked him. In his words, he was the “old breed with a moustache on the lip.”
My first horse as a young girl came from royalty. When I married, I wasn’t allowed to buy anything higher than “meat price.” Now I don’t regret the horses I owned this way, just the abuse they had suffered before me. I know I gave them a better life for their remaining years. Paddy was one of them.
Paddy’s life started outright, but he had the wrong trainer. This man who “broke him” was a neighbour out our way who loved to do everything “the cowboy way”. His reasoning was, “You gotta make them buck and then get all the buck out of them.” This approach, as most enlightened trainers know, creates a bucking horse.
So “broken in” Paddy returned home to his owner, a casual hobby rider. Sensing his gentle colt was now a little uppity, he sent Paddy off to another trainer a little distance away.
This is where it gets a little complicated
The second trainer had a brother-in-law who was also a vet. When Paddy returned home from the second go-a-round, the word was, “he had the flue.” His swollen body and inability to move was vouched for by a local range rider. Yes, she too had seen him laying down at the trainers all swollen up with…the flue. Remember this for further on.
How I Met Paddy
I met Paddy when the Swiss owners of our ranch asked me to help find a horse for Albert. A friend told me her neighbour didn’t want his horse, and it had befriended her horse on the other side of the fence. Maybe Albert would want to take a look at him.
Albert liked him and asked what I thought. I was concerned about the enlarged “capped” knees he had on his front legs.
“Oh, yeah,” said Paddy’s owner, “he had the flue, and he can’t bend his front legs now.”
I cautioned Albert, but he thought everything would be okay.
Back at the ranch, Paddy didn’t like Albert. He didn’t like men and threw him when he was startled by an oil spot on the pavement. It was a hard landing for a Swiss gentleman who had never ridden before.
One day Albert phoned me, Paddy had backed into a barbwire fence and needed doctoring, and he had to go to Montana. Would I take him back to my place and take care of the cut.
So I did, and Paddy and I had a great three weeks together. He was the only horse I’ve ever had that would trim your flower beds and not walk through them.
However, the barbwire cut left a scar, but that was nothing…
When Albert returned, he told me he was going to ship Paddy for meat, so I bought him. One day I had the “brother-in-law” vet come and inspect Paddy. I wanted to know the real story.
. He said, “I’ve never seen the flue do that to a horse’s knees. That horse was put on the rocks. It’s the way he trains them.” . Paddy lived out his life with me.
. He laid down by putting his front legs out straight in front of him. He got up this way too. I rode him mostly at a walk, and then later Paddy, and I escorted my elderly (80 plus) neighbour “Jud” and his (30 plus) horse “Bud”. I took coffee in a thermos, and we’d ride up the hill to some tree and get off to drink and eat cookies and tell stories. Carrots for the horses. . It wasn’t a good feeling the few times Paddy tripped on the trail, so I rode him less and less, and he got fat. This made it harder for him to get up and down. He never had a chance to grow old. But he played with my husky/wolf cross, who liked to lead him, with the rope in her mouth, around the yard. AND he was loved by my orange cat Teddy. . Paddy got his feelings up a few times at Jud’s horses and one year reared up and got his front hoof caught on the top wire. I counted 26 barbs with blood and hair. Jud gave Paddy a stall in his barn, and I doctored him there. During this time Jud’s goat fell in love with him. . The night Paddy left, the stars seem magnified around the moon. . It made me think he wasn’t wasting any time getting over to the other side. I told my friend Wendy about Paddy and a poem I wrote for his earlier, barbwire backup, at the ranch with Albert. Her illustration of Paddy is here, along with my poetry. . I wrote Paddy’s story here so you could know the more of it… .
Wendy Liddle, use to live down the road from me in a little town called Clinton. While she lived there we got busy exchanging my cowboy gags for her drawings. Several magical moments came out of our working together. One was the way she sketched my cartoon on my horse Trigger. At the time it didn’t look like me. Years later when the Mill Girls (who also hailed from Clinton) asked me to join them – that’s exactly what I looked like! Wendy of course was long gone from town…
Wendy illustrated my poem, “Let Life” with a ballerina on a horse. How did she know? I never told her (or anyone) I had once been a ballerina…what seemed a lifetime ago and at the other end of the country!
Well here is the poem from my book “Well Hell” along with Wendy’s drawing for it.
Poem and Drawing
Lift your chin
Stir your heart
Dance your limbs.
Take its course…
This poem “The Secret” was in my mother’s Grade One Ontario Reader. It was one of her favourite’s. If you know who wrote it let me know. I took the liberty of writing a lullaby for it many years ago.
For my 2017 Parkside Show “The Little Birds that Fly” I artistically arranged the poem on special paper in a special frame along with this painting, “The Cradle.”
A SECRET (from the Ontario Readers First Book)
I know of a cradle, so wee and so blue, Where a baby is sleeping this morning, —-do you? I think he is dreaming the dearest of things — Of songs and of sunshine, of tiny brown wings. I’ll tell you a secret, — don’t tell where you heard, — The cradle’s an egg, –and the baby’s a bird!
The Song “A Secret” (composed and recorded by Katie)
I recently found this poem in an old steno book. In 1995, I was four years away from living on the ranch and now on 3 acres. Musing about how the world would look from the eyes of a deer…a long time ago.
From The Eyes Of A Deer
Have you ever wanted to travel
The fields of Yesteryear?
Just to see the way things looked…
Perhaps from the eyes of a deer?
When everything was wild
Wild and alone
In overlapping wonder
This Earth at Peace, at Home.
And silence so enchanting
The air of every note
Conducted from Divinity
The Master Heart has wrote.
Your senses filled to bursting
The return to Now you’ll dread
For hit with sudden living
You’ll recognize what’s dead.
Travelling to Boston a few years ago I took this photo of Walden Pond where Henry D Thoreau loved to be. I imagine he saw the world of yesteryear through the eyes of a deer and more. Lucky are we that he wrote about his nature experience.
“The Tree That Grew From Rock” is a watercolor painting I splashed on last summer, from my belly boat on Crown Lake, at Marble Canyon Provincial Park. This scene has fascinated me for years. The tall column of rock with the lone tree on top. In a zippered compartment of my belly boat I found the water stained pad of paper, from which I had tried to express in 2010, the poetry of the rock and it’s invitation to the tree and everything around. So I have combined here the poem and the painting. I highly recommend floating and creating together.
The Tree That Grew From Rock (watercolor, Marble Canyon, Belly Boat)
Rock – Magnificent rock
Rock that hasn’t said
come tree, come bush
come crack, come hole
come be with me
My plants are writing poetry And time is meditating The cat sleeps on my Mother’s chintz And lamps are contemplating The clouds go by The house is whole Each room is celebrating For I woke up With more of me For which my world Was waiting.