Category Archives: silo singing

Farm Life Music


There is such a thing as “earnest work” and I have always admired the

way farmers work from sun up until sun down. My brothers and I had

a babysitting family who lived on a farm so we were blessed with the

special ability of feeding a lamb a baby bottle of milk in a big country

kitchen. We had the opportunity to play in corn fields, in the hay loft

and jump, swinging on ropes into piles of hay. We loved sledding down

a big hill and skating our sleds onto a frozen creek. I like the expression,

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise!”

When our family was on long road trips, though, my Dad would make fun

of country music. He would sing in an off tune way, “My dog got run over,

my Dad is cheating on my Mom and I think I better hide myself in a mug

of beer” or some such nonsense when we rolled south out of Ohio and

heard more and more country and less and less rock n’ roll.

Music flows through everyone’s souls, though, I believe. There is always

a favorite song, a favorite line in a song that applies to our life and it

fills my heart with gladness or hits me like a sock in the gut, at times.

I was very pleased to hear about this unusual way of producing music,

I liked the way that John Switzer in the Columbus Dispatch says about

music and what I am going to share with you,

“It is always a treat when we experience something memorable.

I did just that the other day when my wife and I attended an open house

at a Delaware County farm that raises Jersey cows. Jersey cows give milk

that is high in butterfat, which is ideal for making cheese.” (He and his

wife were out at Fulton Creek Jersey Cheese farm.)

The entertainment was called, “silo singers.” The songs ranged from

“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” (gospel) to “The Red River Valley”

(folk songs). These were performed by a trio in an empty silo!

The singing in silo is not a new form of music, many of you may have

already experienced it! But I talked my friend into going with me last

month on a nice, warm Sunday afternoon to hear this splendid way

of using the walls of the silo to create an unusual tone and acoustics!

One of the performers, a woman named Gretchen Kumlien, said it

is the equivalent to being in a great cathedral.

This silo singing performance is more common in Wisconsin.

The music spilled out of the top of the silo and through an open side

door, too. It drifts over the warm, harvested fields and gently sloping

land. The trio of father, wife and daughter had a guitar and clarinet,

plus melodic voices intertwined.

If John Switzer hadn’t shared this in his column, “From the Stump,” I

would never have probably run into this way of enjoying music. I was

surprised that my friend, who is a farmer’s daughter, had also never

heard of this way of performing either!

I particularly liked the song, “Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley.”

That was a song that my elementary teacher had sung with a zither

accompanying her.

For some reason this quote, as we drove home, rumbled through my

pensive head:

“But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”

(Robert Frost)

I find the more we explore this world, countryside, over hills and dales,

we are constantly given special treats for covering the distance and

time spent.