Five Bales High

(Words and music by and © Talis Kimberley, 2015)

Length – 3:20

Half the harvest’s undercover
Half the barn’s stacked five bales high
What remains lies two fields over
Underneath a clear bright sky
Gather in the fees and favours
Gather in the helping hands
Gather all for winter’s keeping
Who are we, if not the land’s?

Weather patterns change so quickly
Yesterday ‘twas ‘five days clear’
Cut and baled a gracious plenty
Hope and faith for one more year
Gather in the willing workers
Gather in the strong of arm
Gather all for winter’s keeping
Handfast to the working farm.

So lift the bales and fill the trailer
One more time and sing the last
With songs of longing, love and wonder
Reaching out to touch the past
Gather in the last hay standing
Gather in the weary friends
Gather all for winter’s keeping – bring the
Harvest home as Summer ends –

Gather in the fees and favours
Gather in the helping hands
Gather all for winter’s keeping
Who are we, if not the land’s?


A Little Bit About 'Five Bales High'...

I got to help with the haying last year – I’m not the strongest farm hand, but I did what I could, and knew at the time that this would come out in a song. We lifted the last bales, and we climbed aboard the trailer and rode it back to the farmhouse, singing. My dear friend Dave Clement was there with us and led ‘Barrett’s Privateers’ – I’m not sure what else we sang, but by the time we reached the farmyard and were finishing the unloading, we were making up verses to ‘The Poacher’ (Among the Leaves so Green-o). One of mine mentioned ice cream and tea, and both appeared, courtesy of Lorraine, whose catering business is based at the farm where the Alfie Purl flock live.

I wrote the lyric that evening, and then rewrote it… repeatedly. A few weeks later I was singing to the sheep (that’s my job, when I’m there. They enjoy it. They like some songs more than others, and recognize their favourites) and Oberon was having his hooves cleaned, and was a little worried about it. I opened my mouth and a tune fell out, and I sang it round to make Oby happy. I took the tune home and rewrote the lyric to ‘Five Bales High’ again, changing everything but the sense and the story, and knew at once I would be keeping this version, and singing it a great many times.


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