Hen Song

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hen Farm

For years I could never figure out why I found the sound of hens singing so soothing to me. A hen’s song is hardly melodic, it’s compact, two or three notes at most. It’s nothing like the beautiful rambling warble of a blue jay or the warm throaty coo of a dove. Hens sing a plain song, one that we might hum while going humbly about our daily farm chores. It’s quiet and low compared to the excited cackle that Hen lets out to announce that she has just laid an egg or has been surprised by the dog. There’s not a hint of the sharp screech she lets out at the sight of a hawk flying overhead. A hen’s song only keeps from slipping away to something humdrum because it spills forth from what sounds like pure exhilaration at just being alive on a warm spring day or knowing that the next time she goes scratching, the soil will produce a juicy wiggly worm to munch on. You won’t hear a hen song when the weather is foul or the temperature low or a cold north wind blows. She is a fair weather songstress.

It came to me one day, why hens singing sent a wave of tranquility over me. It isn’t because they announce a fair weather day free of hen stresses, although that could have something to do with it. No – it is because as a child living in suburbia we had chickens roaming the yard. No matter where I played in the yard or worked in the garden I was never more than 100 feet from hearing the hens sing all day long.

There were days, to be sure, that mom and dad had a decidedly different opinion; when a storm blew through, or the neighbor kids ransacked the garden or dad went on a long business trip or we worried, as a family, about the recession. But mostly I lived a life filled with peace, days that seemed endlessly free from all the chaotic supervised activities like school, sports, and youth groups that kids deal with nowadays. There was no need for today’s kind of protection. Mom was always nearby, singing or playing music, and dad was no farther than the garage or the garden. They didn’t hover over us kids like parents do today, they didn’t have to.

They were close enough to keep an eye on us. I had siblings to play with. We rarely got bored. There were so many opportunities for adventure, make-believe and mischief on our suburban farm. During my whole childhood hen song was penetrating the very core of my being. That reservoir of song would carry me through the years that brought trouble and uncertainty. Her song stayed in my memory, subconsciously reminding me that there were places I could still be heard, that I could go to one of those places when I needed to.

And so it has turned out, on a fair day desperately pushing into spring, I can hear hen’s song from outside my window when I write. Sometimes though, when I hear too much of it I realize those dang hens are scratching in the garden again.

Creative Commons License photo credit: TCR4x4

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