The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #36075   Message #497362
Posted By: sian, west wales
03-Jul-01 - 07:57 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Hiring fair songs
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hiring fair songs
Slightly off topic but ...

Plowing with oxen survived in Wales after disappearing (pretty much) in England. Because the Welsh believed that the ox was an intelligent, more than slightly mystical, animal, they believed that it only worked when happy, and kept amused. So to plough you needed both a ploughman and a lad. The lad's sole duty was to walk backwards in front of the oxen the whole time of ploughing and sing to it clever verses - of riddles, or love, quite often. Not silly verses, as this was an insult to the animals' intelligence.

So ... quite often at hiring fairs, farmers would audition likely lads as it was important for them to have both a good voice AND a large repetoire of songs (to avoid repetition).

Always thought that was kinda interesting ...