A Visit with Western Folklife’s Kristin Windbigler

Kristin Windbigler is the new executive director of the Western Folklife Center and the event it runs, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. We visited with her via email about the organization and this year’s production, the 34th annual gathering which runs from January 29 to February 3 in Elko, Nevada.

Cayuse Communications, the family of six sites including NickerNews, BestHorsePractices, and HorseHead, are regular sponsors of this wonderful mid-winter event.

This year’s NCPG theme: Basques and Buckaroos: Herding Cultures of Basin, Range, and Beyond.

The weeklong winter event features workshops where visitors can learn about Basque cooking, Dutch oven cooking, two-step dance, cinch making, rawhide braiding, and hat making, to name a few. There are also special events to connect more closely with favorite performers, like poet Paul Zarzyski and musician Dom Flemons.

Kristin Windbigler

Excerpts from our visit with Windbigler:

NickerNews: Why do you think you were chosen to lead Western Folklife and the Gathering?

Kristin Windbigler: I was raised on a little place in a remote community located in the rugged ranching and timber country of Humboldt County, California. I come from gyppo loggers on both sides of the family, but there is a ranching thread in the weave, too. I’ve been around cattle and livestock most of my life.

I have attended the Gathering for nearly 20 years and as a participant since 2005 when I made my first of seven films for the Deep West Video program. I joined the board in 2013 and most recently served as its vice chair. I fell in love with the Gathering that first year I attended because I saw my own culture—the life I grew up in—recognized, examined, celebrated and lauded.

The Western Folklife Center and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering explore and give voice to the traditional and dynamic cultures of the American West, and I couldn’t be more thrilled and humbled by this opportunity to grow the organization.

NN: What are you interested in having evolve at the Gathering and what you are interested in maintaining as more or less the same?

Performers at the NCPG

KW: I’m not going to mess with the magic, but I would like to make it all more accessible and also to new audiences — that means both people who live the life as well those who have an interest or love for the West and life spent close to the land (and those certainly aren’t mutually exclusive!).

I hope to nurture the deep connections everyone makes at the Gathering as well as foster new ones by using technology to bring the organization’s far-flung community together year round. Read more about that here.

NN: Are there more workshops than in the past and if so, is this an intentional pattern of introducing more ways for members to engage in ranch culture? Are more and more members “from away” (ie, not ranchers but wannabe ranchers)?

KW: Much of the 2018 Gathering planning was already underway when I came onboard in June, so I can’t take any credit for the incredible offering of workshops—that all goes to the Western Folklife Center’s talented programming staff.

It is very much part of our mission, though, to provide a venue for artists to pass on their crafts and skills. The Gathering has a long history of fantastic workshops, and I’m so thrilled you are interested in making people more aware of them.

You are correct in noticing there is an increase in the number we’re offering in 2018, but that’s just because Gathering participants (ranchers/cowboys included) enjoy the hands-on offerings.

Wylie Gustafson will perform at the NCPG

The Gathering isn’t solely about stage performances with featured artists, but also about actively engaging with many Western artforms (including cooking, gearmaking, visual art, poetry writing and recitation, open mics, etc.). We appreciate that there are different ways of doing this, so we like to provide lots of options.

All kinds of people take these workshops, and I would not say they’re intentionally geared toward any particular audience as often as they are designed for both beginners AND skilled, advanced students. I think it’s worth pointing out that I know several highly skilled gearmakers who did not grow up in this life, but came to it later because they were interested or had a passion for it. Anybody who has the desire to learn is welcome.

NN: The Western Folklife staff is almost all women – Serendipity? Strength? Weakness?

KW: I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that. A person’s gender doesn’t have much to do with what they can accomplish. I don’t have any brothers and my dad got a lot done on our place with the help of my mom and two little girls.

I grew up building fence, bucking hay, and packing fuel and saw oil in the woods when he was falling timber for the neighbors. He told us we shouldn’t ever apologize for being small or not as strong, but we did need to learn to make good decisions and use our brains to work efficiently, especially when we needed to make up the difference on a task that required brawn. That said, this job doesn’t require much lifting.

Duckworth: a Montana Company that Walks the Wool Walk

At Cayuse Communications, we gravitate towards companies that put people and the planet over profit. That’s another way of saying sustainability and environmental concerns impact what we review and don’t review. In addition, we applaud companies that make things in the U.S.

At the Outdoor Retailer, we chatted with Robert ‘Bernie’ Bernthal, founder and president of Duckworth, a Bozeman, Montana company.

Duckworth is the only company to take American wool from the “sheep to shelf.” It shears Montana sheep, sends the wool to be processed in North and South Carolina, where it’s knit, cut, dyed, and sewn into an array of Duckworth garments. The company has doubled its sales over the last few years.

Often chlorine bleach is used to process wool so that it won’t shrink. Duckworth has a patent-pending process that avoids using bleach while still making it machine-washable and maintaining its integrity.

“People are very interested in transparency, especially millennials,” said Bernthal, explaining his company’s interest in providing its backstory and source verification. “I think especially as we as a society become more disconnected, the story of where things come from is interesting.”

Where did Bernthal come from?

He worked in Switzerland (for Swatch watches), Germany (for the ski and board company, K2) and California (for the surf industry) before settling down in Bozeman, where he’s lived since 2010.

Duckworth clothing comes in a variety of blends, from 100 percent merino wool to about 40 percent wool in the Vapor Wool which also has recycled polyester and modal.

I found Vapor V-Tee extremely comfortable and super easy to care for. It’s more breathable than cotton or cotton/polyester blends and feels softer, too. This is a slim-fitting tee that feels divine on your skin. The length is not too long and not too short; it works well tucked in or left out.

I enjoyed the fitted fit of a Vapor small. It seemed flattering; although the (sheep herding) dogs and horses did not communicate their two cents directly, I think they approved.

New Horse Professionals Expo in Maine

Well-known horse trainer Chris Lombard is working with the non-profit Healing Through Horses to direct the inaugural Horse Professional Demonstration Expo at their facility in New Gloucester, Maine. It will take place all day, September 30.

Visit their facebook page here. 

Visit their website here. 

Healing Through Horses is a non-profit counseling service that offers Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) in a private indoor horse facility in New Gloucester, Maine. Horses are known for their unique blend of gentle disposition and compassionate power. EAP is animal assisted therapy that incorporates human interaction with horses as guides. Used for decades, it is a proven form of therapy that effectively employs a horses’s innate ability to connect and bond with people in a non-judgmental manner. Horses are sensitive, compassionate and gentle animals. They are able to perceive the needs of humans and act on those needs with unconditional love which makes them a perfect partner in a therapeutic setting.

Admission is just $20 for the day and children under 8 get in for free. There will also be a food booth and The Village Store is close by for lunch.

There will be three different venues holding demonstrations simultaneously. “Think of it like a mini, one-day Equine Affaire. There will be equine professionals from all types of specialties – dressage, jumping, centered riding, natural horsemanship, driving, farrier/hoof care, dental, veterinarian, holistic medicine, energy work, performances, body work, saddle fit, animal communication and more,” said the Healing Through Horses site.

Chris Lombard

Presenters include:

KRISTENE AUBIN (Equine Dentistry)
SANDRA BEAULIEU (Performance/Trick Training)
JUDY CROSS STREHLKE (Centered Riding)
SAYRE ENGLISH (General Training and Horsemanship)
MICHAEL FRALICH (Equine Assisted Therapy)
ASHLEY HUTCHINSON (Saddle Fit/Massage/General Training and Horsemanship)
NIKALINE IACONO (General Training and Horsemanship)
DR. DAVID JEFFERSON (Equine Veterinarian/Chiropractics)
ADRIEANNE JOHNSON (Holistic/Herbal Horse Care)
RON JOHNSON (General Training and Horsemanship)
DR. TOM JUDD (Equine Veterinarian/Chiropractics)
JAN LAMONTAGNE (Dressage)
DEBBIE LITTLE (Youth Horsemanship/General Training and Horsemanship)

Judy Cross-Strehlke

CHRIS LOMBARD (General Training and Horsemanship)
GWYNETH McPHERSON (Dressage)
LOUISE POPPEMA (Animal Communication)
MICHAEL POULIN (Dressage)
KRISTIN PRETORIUS (Hoof Care)
STACEY SCOTIA (Holistic Horse Care/General Training and Horsemanship)
SUSAN WALKER (Hoof Care)
DAVID WHITAKER (Hoof Care)

Cayuse Communications applauds On Pasture

Cayuse Communications, the family of sites owned by Maddy Butcher and including NickerNews, BestHorsePractices, and HorseHead, is a big fan of On Pasture. It’s a website, run by Kathy Voth and Rachel Gilker, women with a wealth of experience in the ag world, and is dedicated to “translating research and experiences into practices you can use now.”

Sounds great to us. We also like the position they’ve taken to support rural and agricultural communities.

OnPasture wrote in a recent newsletter:

This past week, On Pasture joined the Western Landowners Alliance, Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition, Family Farm Alliance, and Partners for Conservation, along with a host of businesses and organizations working across the West in signing a non-partisan statement of principles to guide lawmakers and communities in creating a healthy working lands and communities. We think these are sound principles, no matter where you live and work, so even if you’re not in the West, you might consider supporting the work of these organizations, or consider ways you can adopt the principles where you work and live.

Here is the statement:

We urge Congress and the Administration to advance the following principles to achieve rural economic health and a productive agricultural sector, provide for our human needs, and protect the landscapes in which we live and work.

The long-term economic health and resiliency of our nation is directly dependent on responsible management of our natural resources – including productive public and private lands, and abundant water supplies.

Across the West, communities and organizations are working together to restore and manage forests and rangelands while creating local and regional jobs. Together we are committed to the care and stewardship of our natural resources and are investing in our country’s future. We believe the rural West can play a vital role in solving some of America’s biggest challenges, including protecting working lands, and maintaining the cultural values of both cooperation and independence.

We believe that:
• Working lands, human communities, and wild places are all important and interdependent. Their health must be protected and advanced together.
• Ecosystem productivity, social equity, and economic well-being go hand in hand. Good public policy builds on and reinforces these linkages.
• Large-scale resource planning that is cross-boundary and inclusive, and science- and place-based, is essential.
• The cooperative management of private and public lands is good for business, public health, and species conservation.
• Voluntary, market- and incentive-based programs are key tools for landowners to participate in conservation, diversify their operations, and help keep landscapes intact.
• Hope for rural America lies in collaboration, common sense and non-partisan solutions that ensure sustainable working lands and diverse new economies.

Keep up the good work, OnPasture.

Wool: The Cool Summer Option

Editor’s Note: We hear from guest columnist Amy Skinner who reviews a top by Ramblers Way Farm.

Ramblers Way, founded by Tom Chappell (of Tom’s of Maine), and run by family members, creates and sells clothing designed and made in America and sourced responsibly through the Global Organic Textile Standard. RW clothes are made of super fine merino wool as well as pima cotton.

Skinner writes:

I live in North Carolina, which means it’s hot. I ride outside all day in the sun, heat and humidity, and sometimes my clothes don’t last through the day before I have to change into less sweaty ones.

Finding the perfect shirt to ride in is hard, as a shirt has many requirements to fill:

  • It needs to help keep me cool.
  • It needs to be comfortable.
  • It needs to be durable.
  • It needs to move with me while I ride.
  • And while it doesn’t need to be fancy, it should be cute and presentable.

I ride in tank tops a lot, but many of them slide around and have straps that slip when I’m riding, a negative feature that drives me crazy.

Lots of tops also don’t last due to poor quality material. All it takes is one snag on a vine when I ride through the brush and that shirt is toast.

I get frustrated with companies that seem to make more inferior clothing for women than for men. As if we all sit around posing for pictures and shopping indoors! I need clothes that stand up to real life and can take a beating.

I wore my Rambler’s Way wool camisole on a trail ride with my boyfriend. It looked cute enough for a date ride, and it was super-comfortable too. It withstood trotting and loping in a field with no slippage. The straps stayed in place, and despite being a black shirt, the wool was breathable and kept me cooler than a cotton tank top. It wicked away the sweat brought on by 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity.

You’d think that wool would be hot to wear, but it breathes better and stays drier than cotton. I stay cooler and don’t end up wearing a wet, sweaty shirt.

Ramblers Way top comes in multiple colors

This wool shirt wasn’t the least bit itchy. Rather, it was super comfortable and soft. The material is really durable, and didn’t snag or tear on trees or vines as I rode through eye-level brush.

The top also looks great under nice blouses or long sleeve shirts. It covers everything it needs to cover, but flatters the form. It looks great with jeans or dressed up with clothes for going out. It’s packable, too.

Rambler’s Way prides itself in making quality clothing in a sustainable way. In fact, some of their manufacturing is right here in North Carolina. The sheep are also raised in America.

This camisole has made it into my regular circulation of riding wear, and washes easily along with my other shirts. I just line dry it instead of putting it in the dryer. Super easy.

© Copyright NickerNews Blog - Theme by Pexeto