This is the first poem I “found,” back in 1992.  It is all printed in a little brochure I picked up in Ireland, describing how to conserve the Corncrake, a bird that nests in what we call hayfields.


Every Corncrake Counts

a found poem

A number of factors affecting Corncrakes:

loss of long vegetation along hedgerows,

drainage of small marsh areas

where reeds, white-grass and flag iris provide early cover,

more closely grazed pasture,

marginal land going out of production.

Rotary cutters cut very close to the ground.


Any species attempting to nest

on the ground in a hay meadow is at risk.


Cutting from the headlands towards the centre kills birds.

Chicks in particular are reluctant to cross mown ground

where they are at risk from predators like hooded crows,

tend to stay in long grass where they are often killed

when the last swathes at the centre of the field are cut.


When a Corncrake loses a clutch

–for example in a silage field–but survives herself,

she will lay again often in a hay meadow

which may also be cut before the eggs hatch.

In this way, a female may lay three of four clutches

but succeed in hatching few or no chicks.


Listen for Corncrakes on your land.

Listen for their calling at night.


The male Corncrake usually calls from the same spot.

You may be able to work out which field the nest is in.

If you have a Corncrake on your land

leave areas of rough vegetation on the farm uncut.

Marshy corners, patches of flag iris and nettles

all provide suitable early nest sites.

Ensure that the headlands have taller grass than the rest of the field

when the Corncrakes arrive.


With a little care and patience, fields can be cut  in a way

that will drive Corncrake adults and chicks

to the safety of the field margins.

It will be necessary to work the field

in an anti-clockwise direction.

Headlands at the field ends are cut first

to provide a turning circle.

Leave a swathe uncut in the headlands.


Cut the field slowly.

Speed kills, and is not vital



From  “Every Corncrake Counts,” an Irish Wildbird Conservancy pamphlet

written by Eleanor Mayes


                                                                                       23, 691 days recorded

On August 1, 1828, Tobias Walker of the Alewive neighborhood  just west of Kennebunk, Maine,  started a journal of his daily work.  He wrote every day until he died.

John Waterhouse was here building cellarway for outer cellar door.  
Jeremiah Lord was here finishing milk cellar and hanging doors.
Set out three fir trees at the end of the house. 
Mr. Waterhouse here, raised the building 
for to make dressing in, with the help of the hogs.
Moved the stove from the kitchen to the portch. (sic)
Bricked up the fireplace in the kitchen and sat up a Port stove.
Preparing the ground and getting in readiness .
Took down the old barn.
Digging for a cellar, ledgy and very hard digging, 
almost discouraging.
Finished painting the barn.  
Building a post and picket fence in front of the house.

His son Edwin kept the farm and the diary every day until he died.  And his grandson Daniel, too, until June 27, 1893 when he wrote:

Went to the village with butter.
Got 10 bushels of corn of Edm. Warren at 5-8 cts/bushel.
Got a rake and a scyth and ——— for haying.

He closed the book, set down the pen.   Daniel farmed thirty-three years more and never wrote again.


Days too much alike–
milk and stone and hay.
When all’s said and done,
they said all there was to say.

If they’re not farmers, why should they care?
and if they are,  they’ll know.
Meantime, there’s stock to feed,
meantime, there’s corn to grow.

Tobias Walker’s diary excerpts taken from Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn, by Thomas C. Hubka.