The ferm wis a peat shed, a stack o hackit kinnlin
The ferm wis reeshlin corn and a tattiebogle
The ferm wis buits lined up bi the lowe fur blaikin
The ferm wis washin skelpin in the win
The ferm wis a bee skepp bizzin in the gairden
The ferm wis twa reid kye, their udders stappt wi milk
The ferm wis swippert collies, hair as sheeny as glaiss
The ferm wis parritch bowls, an cream tae poor frae the joog
The ferm wis simmer days an cousins lauchin
The ferm wis dookin doon in the burn bi the dyke
The ferm wis the stank o girse, o sharn, o violets
The ferm wis the taste o hinney, o hotterin hotch potch
The ferm wis a brooch, preened in the hairt o Birse
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2019. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The Scots editor in 2019 was Derek Ross.
Yin o the joys o skreivin in Scots, is the sense o place it allous ye tae impert. In this crackin wee poem by Sheena Blackhall, we are deep in the hert o Birse in Aiberdeenshire: ‘The ferm wis a brooch, preened in the hert o Brise.’ There’s nae doot that Sheena kens this place, its every nook an cranny. It’s pert o her, it’s burnt intae her hert. The sichts are there: ‘The ferm wis reeshlin corn an a tattiebogle.’ Aa the soons are there: ‘…washin skelpin in the win’ and ‘…a bee skepp bizzin in the gairdin’ . Aa the tastes: ‘…the taste o hinney, o hotterin hotch potch.’ Aa the smells: ‘…the stank o girse, o sharn, o violets.’ Sheena disnae jist describe the ferm, her Scots pits ye there, richt in the very hert o it. This wee poem engages aa yer senses an wull leeve lang in ma memory.
Drumneachie Ferm in Birse wis ained bi ma uncle Dod McConnach, an his wife, ma faither’s sister, Mary Middleton. This is a list poem, highlichtin in Scots the maist precious picturs o ma bairnhood myndins thonner. Ma uncle ran a mixed ferm, a bittie o aathin, an keepit an open hoose fur stray nieces an nephews fa he lat bide fur their holidays, alang wi his ain sax littlins. It tells o the souns, tastes, sichts an smells o the ferm, frae the parks an the byre tae the hairth. Ma aunt ay referred tae her man as ‘the maister’, an in their hame, the maister wis served maet first, his loons neist, syne ma aunt an the quines. Hinmaist o aa wir the collie tykes. I larned tae milk a coo there, an tae poor hinney frae the caimb taen frae ma uncle’s bee skepps. A rich hairst indeed!