Cattle in winter

February 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

I have been spending this day of sleet and freezing rain going through a box of my Polaroid SX-70 pictures from 30 years ago.  This picture reminded me of John Greenleaf Whittier’s 19th-century poem “Snowbound.” Here’s the stanza about the farmers getting their livestock ready for the oncoming storm.

Meanwhile we did our nightly chores, —
Brought in the wood from out of doors,
Littered the stalls, and from the mows
Raked down the herd’s-grass for the cows;
Heard the horse whinnying for his corn;
And, sharply clashing horn on horn,
Impatient down the stanchion rows
The cattle shake their walnut bows;
While, peering from his early perch
Upon the scaffold’s pole of birch,
The cock his crested helmet bent
And down his querulous challenge sent.

My father would sometimes recite the first few lines of the poem when a big storm was on its way.

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