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Thursday, March 1, 2012

My cows like moooosic

Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast. ~ William Congreve, 1697.

A video on YouTube shows a tuba player and a trumpeter attracting an entire herd of cows in France. "Oh when the cows...come marching in...oh when the cows come marching in...."

By the time the gentlemen have finished their jazzy tune, they have a long line of bovines staring at them, shaking their heads and jingling their bells along with the music.

Dogs will often chime in with their own howling song when they hear their humans singing. The singing really elicits a strong response from them.

They can't help but join in. My cat doesn't particularly like me practicing my karaoke songs (in the kitchen where the acoustics are best), but she certainly does notice. She makes loud comments, but I don't think she's singing along.

Does music truly have the power to soothe animals? The Farmer seems to think so.

When I first moved in to the farm, I was surprised to notice that he keeps his portable stereo cranked up and blaring tunes through the barn all through the day and night. The man is deaf in one ear, so perhaps he doesn't realize just how loud he has made their world. I turn it down when he isn't around.

I have noticed, however, that when it's time to shear the sheep, the music is a welcome distraction. The sheep are quiet and subdued when music is playing.

And it's easier to shear a sheep that is calm and keeping her hooves to herself. The music might also have an affect on the Farmer, who is attempting to hold a struggling sheep down while he relieves her of her wool.

When the chickens are fighting, a little bit of Motown seems to temper their aggression.

And when we are asking cows to remain contained in small sheep pens, a lilting melody seems to occupy their minds.

Just as when my girls were small, I seem to have a song for every occasion. My mother sang 'Oh what a beautiful morning' and other familiar tunes throughout the day. I sing to the calf when I enter the room to feed him, and he steps toward me.

I sing to the horse and she agrees to leave her stall and enter the barnyard. I sing to the ram and he is distracted enough to let me pass instead of butting me in the leg.

Music has a hypnotic, entrancing effect. Some farmers claim that their animals like classical instrumental music, but I believe mine love to hear voices singing.

When they are in solitary confinement, a song on the radio will make them feel less alone. And when they are crowded in pens awaiting impending birth, the music calms their jangled nerves.

As I entered the barn last weekend, Freda Payne sang 'Band of Gold' and Diana Ross asked that we 'Stop, in the Name of Love.' I love the old tunes. I know all the words. And a happy Farmwife makes for happy farm animals.

I have an idea. Chelsea the sheepdog has been barking at nothing for weeks now. It is her new thing, and it is extremely annoying.

Many times I have been summoned outside by her panicked barking, only to find her standing and barking at her own shadow.

I call from the back porch and she looks at me for a moment, then resumes her monologue. I am thinking that music piped into Chelsea's area might distract her enough to make her stop barking.

She is an outdoor dog, and sleeps in her hay-lined doghouse at night, under a tree. Where would I put the speakers?

Maybe I can turn the music on in the stable and put a speaker up to the window so that the music streams outside.

If it stops her incessant barking, it will be worth the effort and extra electricity.

What station do I choose to play, you ask? Why, Kemptville's new radio station, STAR 97.5fm, of course. Nothing but the best for my babies.

Diana Fisher joins Drew Hosick on the morning show at STAR 97.5fm on Feb. 27. Tune your radio in and wake up with the Farmwife!

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