Listen to the Land

by Annie Bryant

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about

“Once upon a time, in a little valley, at the foot of a great mountain, there lived a tree…..”

Listen to the Land: Stories & songs for children is a collection of 7 songs and 6 audio stories, each one celebrating a child’s sensory connection to the natural world, farm life, growing food and caring for the earth.

What ancient secrets lie hidden within Gran’s old story tin? Will wombat ever really take to farm life? And can Molly & Poppy create their own farm in the middle of the city? From the magic of bees to hardworking mother hen, from traditional farming to bustling permaculture gardens, from green rolling hills to wild bushland – Listen to the Land explores our connection to Mother Earth, inviting everyone – big & little – to find our own ways to listen.

This is the fifth album from storyteller and songwriter Annie Bryant and is filled with even more heartwarming tales and sing-along family folk songs. Total run time 73 minutes

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released May 6, 2017

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Annie Bryant Tales & Songs Byron Bay, Australia

Tales & Songs to nourish young hearts through the seasons of life.

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Track Name: Listen to the Land
Listen to the land
Listen to the land
Calling to us now
Calling to us now
Singing in the wind
Singing in the wind
Listen to the land
Listen to the land

Listen to the river
Listen to the river
Falling from the mountain
Falling from the mountain
Flowing to the ocean
Flowing to the ocean
Listen to the river
Listen to the river

Listen to the forest
Listen to the forest
Whispering & waving
Whispering & waving
Standing tall & strong
Standing tall & strong
Listen to the forest
Listen to the forest

Listen to the land
Listen to the land
Listen to the land
Listen to the land
Listen to the land
Listen to the land
Listen to the land
Listen to the land

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh
Track Name: The Panicum Tin
The Panicum Tin
Copyright Annie Bryant 2017

Nobody knew what was hidden inside Gran’s special Story Tin but Abbey and her cousins never stopped guessing.
“I think it’s gold!”
“No it’s precious jewels for sure.”
“Oh it’s just her old false teeth?!”
But no matter how wild and outrageous their guesses were, Gran kept the secret of the ancient Story Tin shut tight inside.
The tin lived on a shelf high above the old wood stove that huffed and puffed away all night and day inside Gran’s farmhouse kitchen.
And Abbey knew that when Gran reached up and carefully brought down the Tin to rest in her lap it was storytime, and her and her cousins gathered around the huge puffy armchair.
“Well, I wonder what stories lie inside this rusty old tin tonight?” Gran always asked in that strange and mysterious voice, her eyes sparkling brightly.
Then she slowly eased off the lid, just a fraction, just enough to let the tiniest snippet of a story slip out and into her eager ear, before quickly shutting the lid tight again, with a story waiting on her lips.
After that, with those four magic words, “Once upon a time….”, Abbey and her cousins were whisked away into endless farm adventures.
There were stories of sheep bobbing about in tiny boats rescued from flooding rivers; clever horses munching down entire crops of asparagus; and giant prize-winning pumpkins secretly fed on sugar syrup.
Floods, drought, bushfire, crops and cattle – Gran’s farm had seen it all and the Story Tin kept the tales safe and sound inside.
But Abbey’s favourite story of all was the tale of the tin itself.
According to Gran it had lived in the family since they first came to the land almost 200 years ago, and when Gran was a girl it was filled with baking flour.
Back then it was called the Panicum Tin and the story went like this.

“Once upon a time, many many years ago, a young couple, your great-great-great-great-great-great-great Grandparents, Charles & Winnifred, set off on a big adventure.
They packed their horse and cart with tools, food supplies, the wood stove and a trunk filled with clothes and thick woolen blankets, and headed off into the wilderness to find themselves a farm.
On and on they traveled underneath giant trees towering above like dinosaurs, following the swollen river that tossed and tumbled over rocks, so loud it drowned out their own voices.
Winnifred had heard many stories about the wild natives of this land – some good and some not - and she looked about nervously for signs of danger, her heart sometimes pounding almost as loud as the river, as they went deeper and deeper into the thick forest.
Every now and then the tiny track turned away from the river and that brief quiet, Winnifred was sure she heard singing somewhere in the bush.
“Oh you’re just imagining it Wynn,” Charles said trying to comfort her, and although she couldn’t see any signs of humans or animals, that deep low and rhythmic singing grew louder and louder and louder, until finally the track opened into a huge clearing, almost like paddocks, and the singing suddenly stopped.
The endless golden fields were bathed in sunshine and freshly cut grass waved gently in the breeze, and to the side were neat little haystacks just like the ones from the wheat farms back home.
On and on they went, and finally, after three long bumpy days on the bush track, and three chilly nights under the stars, they arrived.
Their land was a small clearing, just big enough for a slab hut and a horse paddock, and they set to work dropping timber, sawing wood, building fences and shelters, turning the soil and planting seeds.
They worked hard all day, even Wynn with their first baby growing in her tummy, building a new life together with their bare hands, only resting their aching muscles and blistered fingers at night when they dreamt of a farm rich in crops and cattle.
But as the months wore on and the wheat and corn seeds still would not grow in the new soil, their food supplies began to run low and Wynn often wondered if her baby happily rolling about inside heard the grumblings of her hungry tummy.
Then, one morning they awoke to find a small package on the doorstep.
Was it left by an animal? Maybe fallen from the sky?
They scratched their heads in wonder before Charles curiously picked it up and unwrapped the dirty piece of leather to reveal a neat little pile of gritty powder that looked and smelled like baking flour.
Their hungry tummies grumbled at the delicious nutty smell.
Wynn quickly filled the empty flour tin, and before long they gobbled down their first fresh loaf of bread in months.
That night, with a full and happy tummy, Wynn wrapped a whole second loaf of fresh warm bread back inside the rough piece of skin and left it out on the doorstep, and the next morning they awoke to find it gone.
From then on, every few days the pouch of sweet grainy flour appeared, and every few nights Wynn left a fresh loaf out in return, until the morning came when they awoke to find not flour but instead, a small dark-skinned native girl with wild frizzy hair.
The girl smiled and laughed shyly before gently taking Wynn’s hand and leading her off into the thick bush.
On and on Wynn stumbled, the girl helping her, until finally she heard a familiar sound.
It was the song, that same low steady hum, but this time when they stepped out into another of those open clearings, the golden fields were filled with native women, their naked bodies as black as night, each one harvesting the grass with a sharp stone in hand, their voices filling the air with their song.
They were piling the cut grass into those same neat little stacks and beside each one, little groups of women and children were working and singing together.
A short strong woman with wild and frizzy hair just like the girls, smiled and yelled and waved them over, talking excitedly in that strange language Wynn could not understand, calling in the other women.
One by one they surrounded Wynn, curiously touching her clothes, stroking her pregnant belly and running their rough hands through her fine hair.
Their touch was gentle and their voices kind and protective, and after a little while they pointed for her to sit down and rest on a rock.
Then the women and children, one voice at a time, began to sing again, and that morning your great-great-great-great-great-great-great Grandmother Wynn learnt the secret of the Panicum Flour.
First they grabbed big handfuls of cut grass from the pile, raising it high in the air before threshing it down hard against the earth, loosening the seed from the plant – whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.
Next the tiny seeds were scooped up into a long wooden dish and tossed high in the wind - up and down, up and down, up and down – the featherweight husks blown away from the heavier seed.
Finally they emptied the separated seeds onto a large rock where the children sat busy with large smooth stones in hand, grinding the seeds into flour - bang, bang, bang.
And all the time the women and children never stopped singing.
That afternoon, back at the slab hut as the little girl said goodbye, she dropped a pile of fine tickly panicum seeds into Wynn’s open hand.
Wynn never saw the girl or the women again, but from that day on, her and her children, and her children’s children, and the many children that followed including me, your Gran, we’ve kept a millet grass crop in the season, and the Panicum Tin was always full, right up until the day we sold off the farm not so long ago.”

“But what’s in the tin now Gran?”, Abbey’s cousins always burst out excitedly when the story was finished.
“Oh maybe some day you’ll find out little ones, but not today,” she giggled as she popped the tin back on the shelf.
And then one day, the time came when Gran couldn’t tell her stories anymore.
Mum and Mum’s brothers and sisters and all of Abbey’s cousins came to help pack up the old farmhouse and everyone got to take a treasure home.
“This is for you sweetie,” Mum said as she reached up high to the Story Tin and passed it down into Abbey’s waiting hands.
For a long time Abbey didn’t dare open it, afraid that one of Gran’s precious stories might just jump out and be lost forever, until finally, she felt ready.
Ever so carefully, with trembling hands, she held the base of the tin between her legs and slowly eased off the rusty lid.
The smell of wood smoke and soil jumped out at her and her eyes had to adjust to the darkness inside.
Slowly she dug her hand into the soft gentle filling within, bringing out a handful of hundreds of fine tickly pale yellow seeds.
For a long time she stared at the delicate seeds, a strange but familiar song echoing in her ears, and she wondered if her hand looked at all like Gran’s hand, or maybe even Wynn’s hand, or maybe even the dark hand of the little native girl when she first held the Panicum seeds.
And after she tipped her hand down and the seeds slid back into the tin, Abbey closed the lid and raced outside into her backyard to find a clear patch of dirt.
Track Name: On This Land
And the cows will call (mooooo)
And the rooster brings in the day (cock a doodle doo)
And the chickens sqwauk (brkk brkk brkk)
They help me find my way
To the worms & the bees every weed every tree and our friends with feather & fur
It is on this land, I know I help the earth

Sky above, earth below
So much life, high & low
For the worms & the bees every weed every tree and our friends with feather & fur
It is on this land, I know I help the earth

And the cows will call (mooooo)
And the rooster brings in the day (cock a doodle doo)
And the chickens sqwauk (brkk brkk brkk)
They help me find my way
To the worms & the bees every weed every tree and our friends with feather & fur
It is on this land, I know I help the earth

Many hands, work all day
As we strive, find a way
For the worms & the bees every weed every tree and our friends with feather & fur
It is on this land, I know I help the earth

And the cows will call (mooooo)
And the rooster brings in the day (cock a doodle doo)
And the chickens sqwauk (brkk brkk brkk)
They help me find my way
To the worms & the bees every weed every tree and our friends with feather & fur
It is on this land, I know I help the earth

It is on this land, I know I help the earth
Track Name: Greener Pastures
Greener Pastures
Copyright Annie Bryant 2017

Old Wombat stretched and yawned.
It was a big long loud kind of a yawn and he felt it through every inch of his stumpy little legs, roly poly body and big hard head.
He waddled his way out of his hole and into the fading afternoon light.
He was tired.
Tired of hunting for food.
Tired of digging under all those annoying fences that seemed to keep popping up everywhere.
And really tired of the long and winding waddle he had to make each afternoon, down down down the steep bush track just to get himself a little drink from the creek below.
Each evening, after a big slurp and quick splash just to make sure he was awake he’d ramble off into the night in search of a nice thick tasty root or juicy patch of herbs to munch on.
But tonight as he huffed and puffed his tired little legs down to the creek he could sense something different.
He stopped on 3 paws, cocking his head to one side, letting the cool breeze slide over his shiny black nose.
“Sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff,” he sniffed. He could smell someone at the creek.
Making himself as quiet as a big clumsy ball of fur can possibly be, he padded his way down the track until he caught a glimpse of a very large four-legged shape quietly sipping the water.
Now Wombats are not known for their charm at the best of times, but he could see this quite majestic-looking creature might just be worth getting to know, so in his most ‘un-rude’ voice Wombat called out, “Good evening”.
The huge animal froze, its ears pointing straight up and alert, its long legs ready to run, its eyes darting around the forest.
But when she finally saw it was just a little furry creature coming down the track she relaxed and let out a long soft nicker, “hmmmmmmm”, before returning to her somewhat dainty sipping.
Now Wombat was just a little annoyed at this big animal drinking from his creek and not showing any interest in him and so, this time he called out in a slightly less ‘un-rude’ voice, “And who might you be?”
This time the tall and slender neck of the great beast jerked up in surprise and she looked Wombat over before deciding she would reply.
“My name is Crystal. And I live on the farm up the hill.”
“Hmmm,” thought Wombat out loud. “I’ve never met a Crystal before. What kind of animal is that?”
Crystal nickered again, before she realized the stumpy creature was not joking.
“I’m not a Crystal, my name is Crystal, and I’m a horse of course. All horses have their own name. Don’t you have a name?”
“I certainly do,” Wombat replied quickly, “my name is wombat. And I’m a wombat. I don’t think I have any other name.”
“Well where I live,” Crystal replied, “all the animals get a name, as well as their animal name, when we arrive on the farm. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m very thirsty. My trough is broken you see, and the farmer has kindly let me out here to drink at the creek tonight while it’s being fixed.”
Well now Wombat couldn’t believe his ears!
“Do you mean to say that normally someone brings water to you every day?!”
“Yes of course,” Crystal replied, “and food.”
And she explained how each morning she received a nice big tub of fresh juicy lucerne spiced up with all kinds of delicious minerals and grains, before someone she called ‘her owner’ gave her a nice relaxing rub down all over her body with a special brush.
Well this was just too much for Wombat.
“So you’re saying you never have to hunt for your own food, or burrow under hard wire fences or even clean yourself??”
“Hunt? Burrow? What’s that?” asked Crystal, genuinely interested.
And as Wombat talked about those long nights under the full moon, daring escapes from big spotlights on wheels, and the deliciously sweet taste of that rare wild rye grass, Crystal’s eyes opened wider and wider in wonder.
What an exciting life, she thought.
And by the time morning came, she was ready for the freedom and adventures of life in the wild, while old Wombat was more than ready for some paddock pampering.
It seemed like the perfect swap.
Off Crystal galloped down along the creek flat, the wind blowing in her mane and tail, the earth pounding beneath her excited hooves, her head filled with the promise of a thrilling new life.
And as for Wombat, well off he happily bumbled up the creek bank, through the open gate and over to the horse stable, ready for his morning feed and his new name.

That morning, as the sun’s rays slowly crept over the land, life on the farm began to wake up, and Wombat was more than ready for it.
He sat up in the little stable with his two front paws resting excitedly up on the feed bin, eagerly awaiting his first feast and massage.
But when that strange human creature Crystal called ‘the owner’ saw Wombat, she let out a huge scream and dropped the entire bucket of food all over the floor!
Well, this was a little unexpected, very loud and not exactly what Crystal had described, but Wombat was very used to eating off the ground and he quickly set to work, munching away at the pile of green juiciness.
Wombat’s cheeks and mouth were absolutely bulging full of food when he finally stopped his frantic feasting long enough to realize just how disgusting it tasted!
“Yuck!” he cried and spat out huge globs of half chewed green gunk everywhere.
And just at this moment, he noticed another one of those funny human creatures stepping slowly towards him with outstretched arms.
“Aha”, thought Wombat, relaxing at once, “must be time for that nice rub down. I’m sure this will be much better than the food”.
So he spat out the last of that terrible taste and settled into the dirt for a well-deserved massage.
Wombat was so looking forward to this that a tiny little smile even appeared in the corner of mouth as he rolled onto his side into a more comfortable position.
But just at that second, he looked up to see the human pull out a large brown sack from behind his back quickly throwing the whole thing over Wombat’s head and body!
Well, this was quite enough, and with a few rough swings of his sharp long claws, Wombat scratched the sack off him, put his heavy head to the ground, and charged full speed into that rude human, knocking him flat to the ground.
Then with a little satisfied grunt, he turned back towards the creek and bumbled his way back to his hole.
Home at last, he collapsed into the warm familiar dirt, exhausted and extremely annoyed by the whole morning, when he jumped in fright at the deafening sound of heavy hoof beats pounding above his head.
Quite furious now, he poked his heavy head out of the hole just in time to catch a glimpse of Crystal galloping past, long red scratches all over her beautiful fur and twigs and dry leaves tangled and twisted into her dirtied and knotted tail.
“The bush is all yours Wombat”, she called over her shoulder, barely stopping in her rush to return home.
“And the humans are all yours Crystal!” Wombat shouted in return before shuffling his way back into his cosy hole, and finally falling fast asleep.
Track Name: I Want to be a Farmer
I want to be a farmer
Rising with the morning sun
I want to be a farmer
Resting only when the day is done
I want to be a farmer
Roaming with the pigs & sheep
Hay bale jumpin’ when the harvest’s in
And playin’ hide and seek

Yes I want to be farmer
I want to be a farmer
I want to be a farmer

I want to be a farmer
My hands deep down in the dirt
I want to be a farmer
Muddy boots, muddy hat, muddy shirt
I want to be a farmer
Caring for this land
Bump bump bump on the old tractor
Always ready with my helping hands

Yes I want to be farmer
I want to be a farmer
I want to be a farmer

Yes I want to be farmer
I want to be a farmer
I want to be a farmer

Yes I want to be farmer
I want to be a farmer
I want to be a farmer

(Hey ho, ho hey
Let’s grow food nature’s way
Hey ho, ho hey,
Let’s grow food nature’s way)
Track Name: Ode to the Earth
Feed the soil
Catch the sun
Keep the water flowin’ till the growin’s done
Feed the soil
Catch the sun
Keep the water flowin’ till the growin’s done
For goodness above we need goodness below so dig deep
Everyone
We must feed the soil, catch the sun and water will flow to everyone

Feed the soil
Catch the sun
Keep the water flowin’ till the growin’s done
Feed the soil
Catch the sun
Keep the water flowin’ till the growin’s done
For goodness above we need goodness below so dig deep
Everyone
We must feed the soil, catch the sun and water will flow to everyone

Feed the soil
Catch the sun
Keep the water flowin’ till the growin’s done
Feed the soil
Catch the sun
Keep the water flowin’ till the growin’s done
For goodness above we need goodness below so dig deep
Everyone
We must feed the soil, catch the sun and water will flow to everyone
Track Name: My Best Friend
He’s not rather big, he’s not rather small
He fits just right by my side when I call
He plays all day, sleeps all night
Always getting up to something out of sight
…..and he’s my best friend

He’s my best friend
He’s my doggy friend
Yes he’s my best friend

He knows how to roll, he knows how to sit
But he’s not so fussed on fancy tricks
He loves to be wild, he loves to be free
But I think most of all he likes to be with me
……and he’s my best friend

He’s my best friend
He’s my doggy friend
Yes he’s my best friend

He’s my best friend
He’s my doggy friend
Yes he’s my best friend

His wet sloppy licks & his bright waggy tail
Is the best kind of fix for a dark rainy day
More than a pet, I really must confide
Life is so much better with him by my side
…..and he’s my best friend

He’s my best friend
He’s my doggy friend
Yes he’s my best friend

He’s my best friend
He’s my doggy friend
Yes he’s my best friend
Track Name: Song of the Bees
Bee kind to the bees
Grow flowers, grow trees
Give them fields filled with freshness to feast
For when you’re kind to the bees
When you give & you receive
Then you join in that great dance of life

For their soft steady hum
Is the song of everyone
It’s a rhythm that holds everything
And the sweetness they share
Made with love & care
Is a sweetness, only sweet, as you & me

So bee kind to the bees
Grow flowers, grow trees
Give them fields filled with freshness to feast
For when you’re kind to the bees
When you give & you receive
Then you join in that great dance of life

Bee kind to the bees
Grow flowers, grow trees
Give them fields filled with freshness to feast
For when you’re kind to the bees
When you give & you receive
Then you join in that great dance of life

Then you join in that great dance of life
Track Name: Round & Round
Round & round & round we go
Wheels will turn, fast & slow
Round & round & round we spin
One thing ends & another begins

Mother hen
Lays her eggs
Keeps them warm
Takes no rest
Day will come
Tiny crack
“Cheep cheep cheep!
Tap tap tap!”

Round & round & round we go
Wheels will turn, fast & slow
Round & round & round we spin
One thing ends & another begins

Mother hen
Clucks with pride
Chicks grown strong
By her side
Day will come
Mother rests
Those big chicks
Lay their own eggs

Round & round & round we go
Wheels will turn, fast & slow
Round & round & round we spin
One thing ends & another begins

Round & round & round we go
Wheels will turn, fast & slow
Round & round & round we spin
One thing ends & another begins

Round & round & round we go
Wheels will turn, fast & slow
Round & round & round we spin
One thing ends & another begins