Friday, August 23, 2013


Hello and happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Betsy at I Think in Poems for Roundup.

So, farm animals. I may be live in the suburbs, and I may lovelovelove the energy of big cities, but my heart is and always will be in the country. At the start of our marriage, my husband and I tried on the country life with 40 acres, a garden, a chicken coop and goats. Alas, as soon as the children began to arrive, the country girl gave way to the city comforts. I love where we live now, with all its conveniences and don't have any desire to return to country living full-time. I do, however, love to visit! These Valerie Worth poems gave me an opportunity to do just that:


In the stall's gloom
His back, curved
Like a high sofa,
Turns on unseen
Legs, looms closer,
Until his long
Head forms above
The door, his face
Of thin silk over
Bone: to be stroked
Carefully, like
Fine upholstery
On a hard chair.

- Valerie Worth

scene from the movie
There's never in the history of the world been a more horse-loving girl than I was. I knew everything there was to know about horse. I lived and breathed and dreamed and hoped horses. Some of the best hours of my life have been spent in the company of Daisy, Starfire, Rusty, Honey, Cherry, Cinnamon and her foal, Sugar. I've never met a horse book I didn't like, and if I could have traded places with Alec Ramsey on that deserted island with the Black? Oh, I would have, snake and seaweed and sunburn and all. One of these days I'm going to write (another) horse book. (Pretty much all my childhood writing centered around horses!)


The spotted cat hops
Up to a white radiator-cover
As warm as summer, and there,

Between pots of green leaves growing,
By a window of cold panes showing
Silver of snow thin across the grass,

She settles slight neat muscles
Smoothly down within
Her comfortable fur

Slips in the ends, front paws,
Tail, until she is readied,
Arranged, shaped for sleep.

- Valerie Worth

For the love of cats! I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't have a cat. Our current cat-residents are named Maggie (for my paternal grandmother) and Bobby (for my mother-in-law, whose name was Bobbie). 


When the neat white
Duck walks like a toy
Out of the water
On yellow rubber-skinned feet,

And speaks wet sounds,
Hardly opening
His round-tipped wooden
Yellow-painted beak,

And wags his tail,
Flicking the last
Glass water-drops
From his flat china back,

Then we would like
To pick him up, take
Him home with us, put him
Away, on a shelf, to keep.

- Valerie Worth

I have fed lots of ducks in my day, and geese. I can't think of a better way to use up the last of a loaf of white bread! A book that often comes to mind is David Shannon's DUCK ON A BIKE. Leave it to a duck to start a farmyard trend. :)


The pig is bigger
Than we had thought
And not so pink,
Fringed with white
Hairs that look
Gray, because while
They say a pig is clean,
It is not always; still
We like this huge, cheerful,
Rich, soft-bellied beast --
It wants to be comfortable,
And does not care much
How the thing is managed.

- Valerie Worth

Of course, who can think of a pig without thinking of Wilbur in CHARLOTTE'S WEB? Also, I was born in the Year of the Pig, which is considered good fortune. For a long time I was a bit annoyed that I should get "Pig" when I would have chosen a different animal for myself. But, you know, I've grown to love this about myself.


The cow
Across the grass
Like a mountain
Toward us;
Her hipbones
Like sharp
Of stone,
Her hoofs
Like dropped
Too late
She stops.

- Valerie Worth

I can't think of cows without thinking of my mama. During her childhood she was very involved in 4-H and raised both beef and dairy cattle. Her prize-winning dairy cow was a Jersey cow named Penny. I love this picture of my mom and Penny(with her 4-H sponsor and a slew of awards!):


The tractor rests
In the shed,
Dead or asleep,

But with high
Hind wheels
Held so still

We know
It is only waiting,
Ready to leap--

Like a heavy

- Valerie Worth

Okay, so this isn't a living farm animal, but it's pretty essential to farm life... and it can be something of a beast. My father has taken some amazing photos of old tractors, most recently in North Dakota (where he lives). Here's one I like a lot:

How do YOU feel about farms and farm life and farm animals?


  1. I grew up spending most of my summers at grandparents' and an aunt's farm-had horses at both. I am in love with the memories I guess, and these poems again are wonderful, Irene. I love your sharing too, the horses and your mom being in 4-h. There is a 4-h group here in Denver actually & one of my students raised goats one year, so great for city kids! The cats, however in the cities too, have larger responsibilities in the country don't they? Loved "Between pots of green leaves growing,
    By a window of cold panes showing" Thank you so much for continuing this sharing.

    1. Dear Linda, I do think 4-H is a wonderful thing for any kid! Cherish those memories. xo

  2. I love farm animals and have always wanted to live on a farm. I also lived and breathed horses and was very disappointed one Christmas when I dreamed a white stallion was tied to the little tree in the front yard. When I woke up on Christmas morning, and there was no white horse, well, you can imagine I wasn't too happy with the presents I DID get that day. I love the pic of your mom and her prize-winning cow! Thanks for continuing to share Valerie Worth. I love her poetry!

    1. Oh my GOODNESS, that is not a good Christmas memory! I still dream of horses. Thank you for visiting. xo

  3. Moo, oink, quack! What a fine selection of farm poems, Irene. I think the horse one is my favorite. Loved your remarks as usual -- didn't realize you were such a horse lover. :)

    1. Jama, the horse-loving gal is alive and well inside me, but I really don't need them as an adult?? Not sure how to say what I really mean, but I have a feeling you know exactly. xo

  4. Hi, Irene. My husband and I were just talking about this issue for our (still far away) retirement. Alpaca farm or city life?

    Thanks for sharing more of Valerie Worth's work. Each poem you share surprises me with its funny, descriptive similes. This week, I love the sofa-like horse.

  5. "Fine upholstery" is perfect for a horse.

  6. So many beautiful poems here Laura and such fond recollections you shared with us too. I am a city girl myself but I understand the longing to head back to the country every now and again - my husband grew up in the province and a part of him is tied to that land wherever he goes. :)

  7. "
    Fine upholstery
    On a hard chair."


  8. I like it i have been to a farm and fed farm animals before.


Your thoughts?