February 23, 2009

Daft Laddie tales from North Tyne & Rede: Savin' the boss money

Northumberland, farming, history, humour, Daft Laddie, machinery, dialect

By Donald Clegg

Set hor ganin & loup off
It’s well known that farms are among the most dangerous work places in any industry and that familiarity breeds contempt. The situation never was good on farms, and despite all the bureaucracy of today’s Health & Safety regulations, things are no better and probably worse, because there is more machinery today always waiting to deal to daft human complacency.

That fact nearly resulted in tragedy for me one day in the tettie field. The field had been neatly ridged up the day before and my job was to fill each of the drills with good old Farm Yard Manure (FYM), discussed endlessly (especially at the dinner table) with enormous reverence.

To save labour, it was standard practice in those far off days to set the tractor off in its lowest gear with its full load of muck, at the beginning of each pair of drills. Once the tractor had settled into following the drills, you jumped off, ran roond the back, leapt onto the trailer and started forking muck off the back (at the correct rate) as fast as you could to fill the drills as they appeared.

Nuw loup on again
As the tractor neared the end of the drills, you once again, leapt off the trailer and climbed back into the driving seat. On this occasion, at first all went according to plan, and the tettie drills were filled two-by-two at a nice steady rate. Ye had’nt got te put ower much oot remember as the boss wasn't maed o' muney!

It was raining that day and I was wearing a very old and tattered raincoat (the standard garb), tied in the customary fashion, with binder twine around the waist. As I louped off the tractor at the start of another pair of drills, my holey coat snagged over the knob on the hydraulic lever on the Fergie which raises or lowers the drawbar.

I was hooked!
I was hooked, and couldn’t free myself and was being dragged along sideways inches in front of the tractor wheel. In desperation, after what seemed a lifetime, I managed to rip yet another tear in the old coat and fell back on to the muddy ridges as the tractor and its load trundled on past me. I had to slip and slide twenty yards to catch up with the tractor and clambered aboard via the draw bar to bring it to a stop. Shouting, “Woah ye old bitch”, which would have stopped the horse in former times but didn’t work with Fergie.

I found my legs were shaking so much as I realised what a close shave I’d had, that I had to wait for ages before I could reverse the load to the edge of the field and get back to mucking drills. I still have visions, which I can now laugh about, of being squashed into a tettie drill while the tractor tried hour after hour to climb the stone dyke at the end of the field.

The Boss would probably have given my corpse a good swearin' for wrecking his tractor front end and the dyke at the end of the drills if I had not survived!

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