Atz Kilcher

From the blog

Reliving the Stories While Recording the Audiobook for My Upcoming Memoir

Writing a book. What an experience! I’m convinced everyone should try it at least once. Man, what a trip! Dude, it’s radically awesome! It’s the journey and the destination all rolled up into one, not to mention a whole heap of good old fashioned therapy.

The trip, or the journey, just keeps on going. More like a whole lot a little trips; little journeys all wrapped into one. Seems like they end, then turn right around and keep on going in a different direction.

Some chapters in this book of mine I wrote back in the late ’80s, others I just wrote a few months ago. All of them have been rewritten, edited and re-edited many times. And each time I write, each time it brings up yet a new dimension for me, a new layer of feelings. A new awareness, yet another level of healing.

I thought I’d reached the end of the journey when it was written and I handed it over to the editor. Wrong. I thought I certainly had reached the end of the journey when I re-edited what the editor had edited. I believe the editing process brought everything l had written, brought everything to a more vivid and real level than even the writing had. I found myself experiencing more intense and deeper emotions. And just when I thought I was done!

Now I’m here in Ashland, Oregon, at Blackstone Publishing headquarters and recording studio. I’m narrating my book — reading it out loud, recording it. For those of you who don’t want to read, you can just listen to it instead.

Just when I thought I was done, just when I thought I had arrived and reached my destination, I’m having to say everything I’ve written out loud, having to revisit everything again, out loud.

Tell my secrets and my sins out loud for all to hear. Bare my soul out loud.

It’s hard to read when you’re crying and your voice is getting all choked up as you revisit that scene of long ago. We had to shoot your favorite horse between the eyes because your laziness and carelessness caused her to slip over the cliff.

It’s hard to read while you’re crying and all choked up, when you’re back there as a young 16-year-old in charge of the butchering and you’re watching your little six-year-old sister trying to walk up to the yearling she had bottle-fed as a calf, knowing that if they still have a bond, if he recognizes her, if he is still a pet, it might keep him from getting butchered.

I was right back there, watching her walk across the field waving that imaginary bottle she had raised him on in front of her in the air and calling his name over and over again, as she had the previous year when she fed him every day.

“Come ba ba, don’t you remember me?”

Now louder with more urgency, with trembling lips and a quivering six-year-old voice but with the faith of a child.

“Ba ba, ba ba.”

Slowly he left the herd that was running from that small blonde girl crossing the field, slowly came to her and nuzzled as she scratched him behind the years. She looked at me from across the field and I could see the triumph and courage in her eyes. She was too far away to see the tears in mine.

So here I am in Ashland, Oregon, reliving it and re-feeling what I felt so long ago. Just when I thought I was done.


  1. Atz, you have such a rich life. The experiences over time have made you into such a good man. I watch you with the horses and am sure that you were enlightened by the teachings of Ray Hunt and Buck Branamon. Like you I don’t learn about them till later in life, but what a difference it made. Zaidoon and I loved your evening at Alpenrose and hope to see you again sometime.

  2. Atz,

    You are Yule’s son, you are Jewel’s dad, and that’s what makes you Atz!
    You are a good, hard working, honest man. I have learned so much from watching ATLF. Thank you for sharing your family and your lives happenings and memories with us.

  3. Atz…I am not sure I’m intruding, but did you serve in Vietnam? I was just wondering. Thanks for the many times I watched you and family on “Alaska The last Frontier”. May your days continue
    to be blessed by God. James

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