Letters from Larksong
An Amish Naturalist
Explores His Organic Farm
by Anna Raber
by Wendell Berry
dustjacket, 208 pages; 6"x9"
The house sits beneath the canopy of a large silver
maple tree at Larksong Farm. There is also a picnic table in its
shade with a sweet cherry tree and vegetable garden growing nearby.
This is where the Kline family gathers for conversation, produce
processing, and to repose with nature as evening settles in (look,
here comes the Screech-Owl). Some of these letters were written
at that table, but the inspiration for this writing comes directly
from the farm, as fresh as the milk and hay and eggs. Like a seedling,
these letters came into the light from that organic place where
soil and water and germination occur and where growth takes root
and is cultivated. This collection reflects the rhythm of farm
life; where that most forgiving of animals, the horse, sets the
pace and the range. These letters are addressed to the most fundamental
need of people, land, and community-nurture.
David Kline has been living on
the same farm-his home-place-every day of his life except for
a brief period of conscientious objection during the Vietnam War.
Even now, the 120 acres along a branch of the Salt Creek, a tributary
of the Killbuck River, are a source of reverence and wonder for
The Klines farm a herd of about forty-five Jersey cows. The cows
are mostly grass-pastured and they are also fed on organic-ally
grown corn-the fields yield about 225 bushels per acre-and so
the milk the Jerseys give is certified organic. The milk is valued
at a premium; but almost everything at the Kline's place has a
The Kline farm faces south and
so the growing season comes to it one week sooner than the next
farm over. The cliff swallows find the barn eaves a good place
to roost; the bobolinks safely build their nests and raise their
young in the hay fields; and an osprey on the prowl for an organic
mouse knows to fly overhead. One hundred and eighty-eight species
of birds have been identified on Larksong Farm and an annual list
is always posted on the kitchen door.