Animal Sounds (and more!)

I awoke this morning at my usual hour, and lay for few minutes in the half-light, listening to animal sounds: The low breathings of my family in sleep, the pacing cats, eager for the outside world and the hapless mice that await, the lusty crowing of Blood, our rooster, interspersed with the plaintive bleating of Rye’s goats. And the soft lowing of Frodo the calf, hungry for his morning bottles. The pigs, I knew, were still bedded down, well out of earshot, but certainly snoring. Pigs snore to beat the band. Or ours do, at least.

One of the things I like best about living with animals is the simple pleasure of imaging the fullness of their lives beyond the moments I am with them; I think of them often in the night when I waken to pee or to pull up the blanket, or just because, and I derive a small comfort from the thought of all those warm bodies in such proximity. Bedded down. Resting. Dreaming their animal dreams, dreams I like to think are unencumbered by the complexity of humanness, so much of it self-imposed. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe being a cow is more complicated than it looks.

I rose, did chores (indeed, the pigs were snoring, I knew it!), then ran graveled roads, for a time following in the tracks of a deer, pressed deep into the soft shoulder. And I imagined it, too, running in the night, perhaps spooked by a car, or maybe just enjoying the openness of the roadway, unencumbered by the brush and branches of its usual habitat. What a treat that must be.

Penny and the boys are scheming a summer trip to the annual Traditional Ways Gathering in Wisconsin next month. As a fund raising scheme, they have created some hand-crafted finery, though what you see below is actually all from Penny’s hands; the fella’s goods were snapped up by doting relatives before they could make it to this space.

Photos by Dylan Griffin.


Large spoons, approx 12″, all cherry: $50

Small spoons, approx 7″, birch, cherry, black walnut (light to dark): $25

If you want a specific spoon, please identify it (i.e., 3rd from left, 2nd from right, etc).


Black ash baskets; logs were harvested from our land and pounded by hand to make splints. Many blisters ensued. Larger basket is approximately 7″ tall, smaller is about 5″ tall. Put stuff in them, or just admire. $40 each.


Birch bark star decorations. For, um, decorating. $10 each.

We prefer checks and/or cash (email ben@fairpoint.net to make arrangements) but Paypal is also an option. You can use the link below. Please add $5 for shipping. Thanks!


Couple of other things. First, more music!

The Devil Makes Three. Thanks to Michael for reminding me! Love this band with VT roots; not really sure how to describe them, so I’ll leave you with a few offerings and let you come up with your own description. This, this, and this are favorites.

Magnolia Electric Company. Brilliant and poignant songwriting by the late Jason Molina. I’m particularly fond of North Star, Don’t This Look Like The Dark, and The Dark Don’t Hide It. Fair warning: This is some pretty melancholy stuff, and probably not best for those late nights when you’re drinking alone and feeling shitty about your life.

Fred Eaglesmith. Not sure what to say about Fred, except that he’s about the least pretentious songwriter I’ve heard, which is one of the reasons I love him so damn much. Well, that, and he sings about trains, guns, and extending a raised middle finger to the powers that be. How can you go wrong? Here, here, here. Oh, and here.

Finally, a quick note on a project I’m collaborating on (this makes it sound like I’m doing a lot more than I actually am, which is precisely why I said it like that) with my friends Dylan and Nina Griffin, a husband and wife photography and writing team from North Ferrisburg, VT. It’s called State14 (because VT was the 14th state in the union… but you knew that, right?), and it’s a digital magazine rooted in Vermont-based story telling. There’s one of them new-fangled Instaounce accounts, too, if that’s your bag. I won’t say too much more about it here, except that I really appreciate Dylan and Nina’s vision, and am looking forward to the opportunity to exploring stories that aren’t likely to find a home on the pages of other Vermont-centric magazines. State14 just launched today, and I’m stoked to seeing how it evolves and grows. If there are stories you’d like to read, or if you have any other feedback, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Over and out.

3 thoughts on “Animal Sounds (and more!)”

  1. It is so encouraging to see your family so full of good soul nurturing life, the animal tales, camping trips, community, crafts, creating, music, and new exciting projects.
    We are staying for a short bit on a farmstead on Saaremaa island in the Baltic Sea in Estonia, and I sense a lot of beautiful local community here, similar to what people of Vermont cherish.
    Best of luck and enjoy all of it. ❤

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