top of page
Search

Goat Haikus

hai·ku /ˈhīˌko͞o/

a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.


April is National Poetry Month. In thinking about farmers who are also wordsmiths, there are names that come to mind. Wendell Berry endeared himself to many with his book "The Mad Farmer Poems." Or, if you've heard of just one poet, it is probably Mary Oliver. While not a farmer, she had a deep connection with the earth and the animals around her and wrote stunning prose about it.


Working with words is extremely accessible. After all, they're already in your head! There is some wordplay happening at Lum Farm, though it is substantially less high-brow than that of the poets mentioned above. That said, the pallet is the same: the seasons, the elements, the animals. However, the canvas is a little more off-the-wall. Or, actually, on-the-wall.



It all began with writing a few lines in dry-erase marker on the wall of the dairy's milk parlour (possibly the most poetic line in this whole post is that the room we milk the goats in is officially called "the parlour".)


I can't remember how the conversation started, but it involved Amy, Crystal and myself (Mandy) at the end of a milking session. It began in a quiet moment, pouring the milk into the cans to be chilled. Being a little tired after milking 30 goats, I can imagine one of us joking "Let's just stand here and reflect a moment." Somehow, a haiku was born, and in our amusement with ourselves we wrote it on the dairy board wall:


Stands holding hoses

watching the milk pour pour pour

reflect a moment


Is it breaking some sort of haiku rule to repeat a single word till you get the correct amount of syllables? Probably. We're not out to prove anything.


For better or worse, the muse had been unleashed. Over the months, the wall began to fill. First, we wrote little love letters to our goats:


Mandy and Patsy



Patsy:

ev'ry time you're milked

I tell you you're beautiful

Only then you go



Green Kate:

Humming to her babes

sweetest goofy matriarch

listen for your name



May Green Kate forever be known for her photobombing prowess.



Or maybe more rant than love letter:



Back Door Loretta

why not be the boss with those

horns and attitude



Such a precious thing

creamiest golden splendor

DON'T KICK THE BUCKET



Sometimes it became a little bit of a dialogue:



Hey Dairy Goat Gruff

Horned barricade not cool

Let your friends out please



Barricade maybe

Entertaining indeed I

Love a good challenge


You'll note that the ladies in the front are the ones with the horns.



In haiku tradition, we did have little odes to the seasons



Sweet foam on my lip

those dairy days of summer

can you lap it up?



a life of seasons

heart mind body synapsing

the farm equation



Amy, Crystal and Mandy get along awfully well for coworkers.



Eventually we began writing little notes of appreciation to each other



Many hands working

I follow in your footsteps

pleasant workspaces



Early morning haze

sleepy milkroom gratitude

you filled the chow can



Or Apologies:




Occasionally we'd have a visitor that would spy the board and add a haiku of their own. Here's a sweet one from some visiting friends who joined us for morning chores:



Minnie gives her milk

into the face of the kids

abundant laughter



Is there a moral to this haiku story? As I mentioned earlier, we have nothing to prove. But I do want to point out that there are moments, however fleeting, in which you can exercise the creative part of you. It may just be a few words in your head while you're in the midst of a task. They are worth your time and attention. You never know where they will lead.


Happy National Poetry Month!


 

The poets of the haikus came from the 2022 milk season. Poems weren't signed, so each poem may or may not have been written by: Crystal Mossman, Amy Lum, Mandy Troxel, Shannon O'Donnell, Amie Stevens or any random milkroom visitor.


P.S.

Since you've made it all the way to the end, I bet that means you'd be willing to add a haiku in the comments section of this post.







Comments


bottom of page