Diners, Fenceposts and Cowboy Poems: Road Trip to Elko

1,037 miles, 16 hours, seven thousand fenceposts, one overnight snowstorm,

two or three little hometown diner meals

one night in a Comfort Inn in Idaho Falls and a couple of tourist moments later…

Twin Falls, ID

and we finally made it all the way down to Elko, Nevada from the great white north to participate in the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

There’s cowboys here from all over the country, but it turns out I’m the only one with red scoria still stuck to her car and a good ‘ol Northern, kinda sounds like you’re from Canada, accent.

And I’m the one hanging around with this guy.

I can’t tell you what it means to be here surrounded by all of this talent, all of these stories of ranch living, all of these expressive people in hats and boots and some really great mustaches. Last night I met a hat maker with a leather-tooled neck tie and vowed I’d find one and start spreading his style-sense back in North Dakota.

Would it be weird if I wore a leather tooled neck tie?


Anyway, last night was my first gig at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Martha Scanlan sound check

I took the stage at the Convention Center for a show called “Straddling the Line,” with landscape storyteller and accomplished musician Martha Scanlan and sage rocker and cowboy Brenn Hill.  In its 30th Anniversary the gathering is focused on the next generation of cowboy poets, singers and storytellers so we each took our turn talking and singing about what it means to be out here loving our land and the work we do.

Watch the full concert here: 

The audience and the people here are warm and inviting. We’re from all over the country, but we have things in common and so much to learn from one another. Wednesday night we rolled into town and bought tickets to a Ranch Radio Show where Stephanie Davis sang about the magic of baling twine, and besides the leather-tie promise, I promise to learn all the words to that song, because I swear it was written about Pops.

Today the streets and concert halls will fill up again, a sea of cowboy hats and the buzz of information, stories and music being passed around.

This morning we will walk down the street for a fresh donut and I’ll take the stage with my friend D.W. Groethe before heading back to the Convention Center to join other forth and fifth generation ranchers to talk about what it’s like to be back on the ranch.

Tonight we will see Ian Tyson and dance at Stockmens.

And tomorrow we’ll do it all over again before heading back up north to the horses taking in the winter sun on the top of the hills outside my window.

Music has given me so many gifts in my life, this week is one of them.

Grateful to be here. Grateful to tell my story.

Grateful that you all are listening and sharing yours too.

Peace, Love and Happy Trails!

Sunday Column: What makes a summer

Well, we made it back from the edge of the Montana mountains late last night. We were a wagon train of two pickups headed west, our cargo of guitars and sleeping bags, boots and coolers of beer, musicians and friends, a little more dusty than when we arrived in that Montana cow pasture ringing with music on Friday.

It was a long haul. 800 some miles, three small town diner stops,

countless fuel-ups, sunflower seeds and coffee refills  and only one “could have been major but actually turned out ok for once” pickup hiccup on the interstate east of Billings, MT.

Because, as Husband says, “It isn’t an adventure until it’s an adventure.”

And so we had one out in White Sulphur Springs, Montana, a bunch of neighbors and friends from the oil fields of North Dakota headed west to hear Merle Haggard sing “Momma Tried” and pick a little themselves on stage and around the campsite at night.

I’m home now with the memory of it turning the corners of my lips up a bit as I unpack and pack my bags again to head east for another gig.

I go to Devils Lake, ND today to sing in a park, but the band will stay home. They have work to do and things to catch up on so I’ll go it alone and that’s alright.

Although it’s always more fun with the boys around.

It’s going to be August in a few days.

August. The last month of summer at the ranch, rolling in with big thunderheads, sunflowers, prairie grass and wheat that turns gold over night.

Summer is fleeting here and I’ve spent this season chasing it–behind my camera, on the highway, on the back of a horse, on the top of a hill, down in the cool draws and behind my computer making plans.

I wish it were longer. Everyone does. But it doesn’t matter really. I’ll think of summer when the snow falls outside my window in December and I won’t think about its lifespan.

I’ll think about the life we put into it.

Coming Home: Berry season brings good intentions
By Jessie Veeder
Fargo Forum

Because summer means so many things to me, and so I’m happy to be here in it while it lasts…whether it’s picking wild raspberries in a cool draw on our North Dakota ranch

 or singing to the wild landscape and wild, wonderful people of Montana!

I’m glad to be home for a minute, and then I’m glad to be on the road.

 See you in Devil’s Lake tonight!