Got Cover Crops

Got Cover Crops

Bret Hesla © 2020

Written on commission for Land Stewardship Project’s Soil Builder’s program

1. Here comes wind | here comes rain.
Devil gonna take my soil away.
Oh black water, hills erode.
Uh-uh, I can’t let that go! That’s why …

I’ve got cover crops. I’ve got them all about.
I don’t leave myself defenseless with my bare soil hanging out.
I’ve got cover crops. I’ve got them all about.
Hold that water, build that soil
Makin’ the numbers pencil out.

2. Green protector, species cover
Add a bit of chicory for my mother.
Smorgasbord for cows to graze
Pollinator paradise. Telling you … Ch

Here’s another song written for LSP

3. I plant some things to keep it wet.
I plant some things to keep it fertile.
I plant some things that I can sell.
I love to double dip! Telling you … Ch

4. Italian ryegrass & mammoth clover
Brassica, peas and beans and big sunflowers
Radish, fescue and hairy vetch
Yeah, why not the kitchen sink?

5. They work great for me and I’ll tell you true.
I think they could work great for you.
If you don’t make the number one mistake:
You never tried ’em in the first place. That’s why … Ch

6. Fireflies sparkle, grandkids frolic.
Anybody heard of the word bucolic?
Who doesn’t love November green?
Hey, look over there — it’s another fox! Yes … Ch

Words and music by Bret Hesla. Written on commission for Land Stewardship Project
© 2020 Bret Hesla. All rights reserved. Use with permission, please.
Bret Hesla & Six Feet Deep
Bret Hesla — lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica
Dan Chouinard — piano
Dave Michel — bass, vocals
Joe Silberschmidt — drums
Tim Gustafson — lead guitar
Rebekah Fergus- vocals
Martha Schwen Bardwell– vocals
Linda Breitag- vocals
Ray Makeever- vocals
Larry Dittberner- vocals
Bob Stuber– vocals
Production Services Matthew Zimmerman/Control Z

About a year ago I was commissioned to write a song for the Land Stewardship Project. They wanted a song about their Soil Builders program. Doug, my liaison, gave me a few brochures, a few notes, and offered to connect me to some farmers to interview. So, knowing nothing about farming, I went to a field day in Mower County put on by farmer Tom Cotter, to tell other farmers about his work. About 25 farmers (and me) showed up. Amazing set of practices he’s blending together–no-till, no plow, cover crops 24-7-365, innovative grazing techniques, mycorrhizal fungi, science, ecology, joy, health, honesty. These farmers doing what they’re calling regenerative agriculture seem to have re-imagined their work as building soil for the long term, which not only leads to healthier food and better yield, but helps fight climate change by storing carbon in the soil. Then I went to visit another farmer from around Cannon Falls, Kaleb Anderson. A super fun conversation that further opened my mind to the work these folks are doing. He recommended a book called, Dirt to Soil, by a North Dakota farmer named Gabe Brown. So I read that, too: kind of a regenerative ag bible. And on and on.

I ended up writing a suite of songs, two of which are recorded so far: Got Cover Crops (this one) and Back to Soil. Most of the images in these two songs come directly from the comments of the folks I talked to or read about. Doug called me back at some point and said, “Whatever you do, be sure the song includes the message of “building soil,” because that’s what these folks are up to.” He also said I’d get a $100 bonus if I incorporated the term “mycorrhizal fungi” into the song.

I’m waiting for that bonus, Doug.

The band is a total creature of the pandemic. Once I was ready to record, Covid -19 hit. So no possibility for side-by-side in the studio, much less to rehearse. I got a social distance plan from my friend Matthew. I first recorded myself, at home, singing and playing guitar. Then I invited a bunch of players to separately listen to my track and record themselves, at home, on their instrument. Be sure to keep to the same beat. Matthew put it all together. But we’ve still never played these songs all together in the same room. It helps to have dynamite musicians. Thanks all!

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