December 20, 2008

The Dosin ‘O the Hoggs- Part 2

This a famous and much-loved poem and song of Northumbrian shepherds and country folk at functions such as Border Shepherds' suppers and rural gatherings. It tells the story of the clostridial disease of sheep (mainly of young hoggs) called 'braxy', and what little could be done to prevent it in the days before vaccines.

The poem was composed by Billy Bell who was born in Riccarton in 1862, but spent most of his life in Byrness where he worked as a roadman for the upper Redesdale Road Board and then the County Council from about 1883 to 1933. He died in 1941.

Over his lifetime, he wrote more than 350 poems in lined exercise books. When his widow died these notebooks were rescued by a neighbour Mrs S. Rogerson.

The dosin 'o the hoggs
The back end again is wi’ us and the wund blaas cauld and chill
And mighty hoar frosts whiten o’er each valley and each hill.
The moorland herds are at it wi’ their usefu’ collie dogs
Busy pairtin’ aa’ and sheddin’ for the dosin’ o’ the hoggs.

Auld Grumpy she’s been dieted on cows new milk and grass
Her dung collected an’ aal stirred up intae a sickly mess.
A glessfu’ doon each throat is teemed, then oot ontae the foggs
For four and twenty hoors completes the dosin’ o’ the hoggs.

Aa spiered o’ ma freend Danny. Aa spiered o’ Jock o’ the Nick
They aa’ declared for sickness ‘twas a glorious specific.
But Wullie o’ the Seven Sykes said he wad bet his clogs,
‘Twas just an auld wife’s fancy, was the dosin’ o’ the hoggs.

Aa says, “ Ye surely dinna think it does nee guid ava’”
“Na na,” says he “Last year we dosed, Aa hed an aafu’ Fall.
Next mornin’ fifteen lyin’ deed, as cauld and stiff as logs.”
“Na,na,” says he “Aa’ll no believe o’ the dosin’ o’ the hoggs”

Wi opinion sae divided, whee hes yin tae believe?
If ye dose them they will sicken, if ye dinna they’ll no’ leeve.
This amuses mony an auld herd as through his flock he jogs.
It’s a varry kittle business, is the dosin’ o’ the hoggs.

Author unknown. Any information would be appreciated.

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