By Clive Dalton and Donald Clegg
An extract from the book - Daft Laddies. Farming Tales of North Tyne and Rede 50 years on (2003) By Clive Dalton and Donald Clegg. If you would like a copy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
A regular challenge for a Daft Laddie was to work the farm dog which was a bit of a problem as it always belonged to somebody else. Nuw ivrybody knaas dergs are a lang way from bein’ as daft as sum folk mek oot.
The world’s most famous Border Collie dog was a Northumbrian – “Old Hemp”, and we believe he deserves a monument high on Carter Bar. He was bred by Adam Telfer of Cambo in 1893 and sired over 200 pups in his day. You can now trace the DNA of every Border Collie in the world back to Old Hemp. It’s an amazing bit of scientific detective work. See Wikipedia for his full history.
|Old Hemp. His genes spread from Northumberland to the ends of the earth New Zealand|
But this was no problem, as the dog knew these jobs far better than you did, and most times totally ignored your directions. Indeed, aall ye cud offer if he chose to listen were a few “suggestions” to owld Jock or Sweep to consider after they had done the things that dogs saw as priorities.
It was always the owld dog that was semi retired and hung aroond the steadin’ that the Daft Laddie called to duty. The younger dogs were usually away with the boss or would only work for him. This was a real frustration in emergencies, like if the boss was at Hexham and you wanted a dog in a hurry as the cuws had gitten inte the barley an’ wor deein’ a Morpeth rant, or the bull needed a hurry up to get him back into his hemmel.
Nowt wad git that derg oot o’ its hoose – not even the missus with a bit ‘o Billy Butcher’s spare rib. You cud try all the nice doggy noises you cud think of, but aall ye got was the soond of his wagging tail beaten oot a bit reel on the wooden floor of his hoose.
|"Queen". A Border Collie of Old Hemp style watching sheep on the Hott Fell. She was a classical one-man dog and would not leave her kennel for anyone else.|
Passed it's use-by date
So the Daft Laddie’s dog was always passed its use-by date and was really only interested in a lug scratch or belly kittle. Mind the cunning owld bugga was always keen te gan wi’ ye, and on first command took off like a rocket. Then he’d meet the first decent Scotch thistle which then had to be sniffed and given a miniscule leg-cocking jet. Or he had to stop for a drink at the trow to recharge his wattor tank.
Nee amount of gollaring at him, or even running ahead to show him what you wanted increased his revs. He just looked at you, heed on the side and lugs cocked with an expression on his face that said “Well bonny lad if ye can run like that –whaat de ye need me for. Aa’ll just gan away heme”!
Directing the dog
But if you had ambition to move to being a heaord from budding heord laddie, you had to knaa the commands in case the bus or the train went past. Try these sometime when you pass an owd dog and see what happens – probably nowt!
- Way oot, Jock Gan and find something.
- Jock - Git away back Gan and try again – ye useless goniel.
- Cum away bye, Jock Give up the sorch!
- Away te me Hey, Aa’m in charge, cum heor.
- Cum in ahint me Cum te my hint end and oot o’ trouble.
- Cum heor te me, bonny lad When I git you, you’re deed meat!
- Lie doon, lie doon, LIE DOON! Huw many times have Aa te tell ye?
- Jock are ye deef? Aa’ll git ye a hearin’ aid?
- Waalk up Jock Bring what’s left te me.
- Stiddy Jock – STIDDY! Apply your bleedin brakes man!
- Here-this yen Jock I want this sheep– not the blow’d lot.
- Git oot o’ that. Jock, just de nowt for a spell.
- Hallah! Jock – teek haad Sink your teeth inte the owld bitch, Jock
- Bye God! Jock – Aa’ll fell ye Jock – your end is nigh.
- Jock, cum bye – Aall gan mesel Leave it to me Jock –find yorsel a thistle.
Dogs also respond to hand signals – if they want to tek notice. So the heord’s stick was an important signalling device as an extension of the arm - amang it’s many other duties. Many an owld dog learned the difference between a direction with the stick and a threat, and he sartainly knew what was meant when the heord “took the stick be the smaa end”! That was the clear and penultimate signal by the heord before cardiac arrest, and indicated that the he was seething for vengeance.
Every dog was a character, useless or not, and everyone who has worked on a farm could fill books aboot dergs that now must be helpin’ St Peter git his cuws in, sheddin his yowes, and pittlin’ on his thistles.
The Demesne's Owld Sweep
When old Sweep at the Demesne Farm in Bellingham didn’t cum heam from Pickering the vets at Hexham after his operation for a growth in his neck – fower of us macho menfolk were in the kitchen snifflin’ in wor hankies, and the three womenfolk had bolted upstairs and wadn’t cum doon. He was ownly a blow’d derg eftor aall, somebodywould venture. 'Nowt the kind' was the immediate response – he was 'Sweep'!