February 23, 2009

Daft Laddie tales of North Tyne & Rede: Racin' the little racing grey Fergie

Northumberland, farming, humour, dialect, Daft Laddies, tractors, haytime, history, 1950s

By Donald Clegg

The little grey Fergie that revolutionised farming around the world.
They didn't come with mobile phones in the 1950s!

An approved driver

Soon after starting on my first farm, in Redesdale, at the age of 17, I was eventually allowed to drive the little grey Fergie to lead hay pikes from the field up to the hayshed in the stack yard across the farmyard from the house. The farmer’s son, aged 14, was similarly employed, driving his uncle’s Allis Chalmers, borrowed for the occasion.
The hay field was some way down the farm track and, inevitably, he and I soon competed to see who could get to the pikes first and lead the most to the waiting farmer and his helpers, discussing the local scandals while filling their pipes to keep the midges at bay by late afternoon.

The Fergie was much faster than the Allis and easily swerved past it, dodged skilfully through between the stone gateposts of the hayfield, and reversed neatly up to the chosen pike. Alas! In the excitement I hadn’t realised that the bogey’s drawbar pin had jumped out, and the bogey was now parked neatly in the middle of the cornfield near the farmhouse.

With the farmer’s son’s triumphant laughter ringing in me lugs I retraced my tracks, collected the bogey and brought my pike up to the stackyard to face the accusing stares of the boss and his friends.

Me lugs chowed!
Thereafter I endured days of lectures about reckless behaviour, endangering life and limb and especially the valuable Fergie, and generally buggerin’ aboot insteed o' concentratin' on the job in hand.

And like at the end of every good sermon, he always ended with the blessing - “An remembor Aa’m not made o’ money ye knaa!”

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