Farm Song, Farm Sounds
Laura Parker Roerden writes, consults, and speaks about kids’ connection to themselves, each other, and the earth. She directs Ocean Matters, a nonprofit that helps save threatened marine resources. She’s serious about peace; believes good food can connect us to ourselves, the earth and each other; and thinks today’s young people are reason to be hopeful about the many environmental problems facing us. She lives on Jo-Erl Farm, a fifth generation family farm in Massachusetts with her husband, three boys, and an assortment of fruit trees and farm animals.
In our joining it knows itself. It is with us… as a little bird hidden in the leaves who sings quietly and waits, and sings. - excerpt from The Hidden Singer by Wendell Berry, farmer and poet
I like poetry. I write it. I read it. I particularly like listening to it. When I was younger, I used to feel that being a farm kid who liked poetry was a bit like casting Sly Stallone to play a professor. But as I’ve aged, I now think poetry appeals to me because it so often echoes something I’ve heard from the earth itself, translated to me by working rhythms of our farm.
Just last night when the chickens were on the roost, I noticed that they percolated with the same distinct sound of a fog horn–only with a more gentle, quiet tone. The chickens roost at about my head height in our coop. Their disembodied sounds in the dark form a line on both of my sides, which helps me to navigate the dark shoals of the room the way ancient mariner might have used the sound of a particular bird in a fog to know they were closing in on land.
The entire time I’m collecting the nightly eggs I consider this possibility: could it be that these gentle cooings of birds on land inspired the tones that mariners used as fog horns? What else have our cities and other window dressings of civilization borrowed from nature?
What else can we hear in nature that might help us to know ourselves better?
Listen to a soundtrack of my morning chores at our farm HERE.
And treat yourself to Wendell Berry reading one of my favorite poems about farmers by closing your eyes and indulging HERE.
If it’s contrary to be a poetry-loving farmer, so be it.