February 23, 2009

Daft Laddie tales from North Tyne & Rede: 'Startin larnin farmin'

Northumberland, farming, daft laddies, history, humour, dialect, history, 1950s

By Donald Clegg

Startin larnin

Young lads who had ambitions to join the ranks of the agricultural workers could be roughly divided into two groups: farmers’ sons who had grown up on the farm and already had vast experience of farm work, and those with no previous connection or experience of farm work other, perhaps, than ‘helping’ in the hayfield or cornfield by learning what to do.

Some of us as school kids went to the hayfield to “help” as we knew there would always be a spare scone when the supper arrived if you did a bit of hand raking, always appeared willing, didn't 'set up yor gob' (be cheeky) – and didn’t break any rake teeth or 'prog' (stick) anyone with the hay fork!

Some of these prospective farmers, of course, went through an agricultural college course before embarking on the muddy path to farming, riding on the bogey or ushering sheep or cattle to or from the mart from early childhood, and long before “Health & Safety” regulations were thought of.

We were called 'Daft Laddies', as we were not endowed with great farming wisdom at that stage in our careers - if we made a career out of farming.

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