I'm reviving this thread as I've got a couple of songs for my old friend Ard Mhacha. I was in Dumfries last week, and I bought, in a secondhand bookshop, a copy of:
KERR CAMERON, DAVID "The Ballad and The Plough: A Folk History of The Scottish Farmtouns" (London, Gollancz, 1987).
Here's two untitled bothy ballads from the book.
"There was one man in particular to avoid in Turriff's Porter Fair." (pp 88-90)
Come all ye jolly ploughman lads,
I pray you, have a care,
Beware o' going to Swaggers,
For he'll be in Porter Fair
He'll be aye lauch-lauchin',
He'll aye be lauchin' there;
And he'll hae on the blithest face
In a' Porter Fair.
Wi' his fine horse and harness,
Sae well he'll gar ye true,
But when ye come to Auchterless,
Sae sair's he'll gar ye rue.
He'll tell ye o' some plooin' match
That isna far awa';
And gin ye clean yer harness richt,
Ye're sure to beat them a'.
For the tackle's gained the prize afore
At every country show;
And gin that ye lat it fa' back,
Ye'll be thocht little o'.
A pair o' blues that lead the van
Sae nimbly as they go;
A pair o' broons that follow them,
That never yet said no.
A wee bit shaltie ca's the neeps,
And, oh, but it is sma';
But Swaggers he'll declare to you
It's stronger than them a'.
But he'll aye be fret-frettin',
He'll aye be frettin' there;
And he'll gie ye regulations
That are worn a' threadbare.
And Swaggers in the harvest time,
He's got too much to do
For the twa-three jovial laddies
That ca's his cairt and ploo.
Sae he'll gang on some twenty miles,
Faur people disna him ken,
And he'll engage some harvest hands
And bring them far frae hame.
He'll say unto the foreman chiel,
"Keep aye the steady grind,
And dinna lat the orra lads
Fa' idle back behind.
"For I pay ye a'guid wages,
And sae ye maun get on,
And gin ye are not able,
There's another when ye're done."
He'll say unto the girlies,
As they are comin' back,
"Come on, my girls, and hurry up,
Gie them nae time to sharp."
But noo the cuttin's ended,
And we've begun to lead,
And mony's the curious plan he tries
For to come muckle speed.
And noo the sheaves they are all in,
And formed in the stack;
And noo the windy days are come
When we maun hunt the brock.
Whe we maun hunt the brock, my boys,
Wi' mony a fret and frown;
And Swaggers cries, "Come on, my boys,
It's like for to ding on."
And when that we gang up the raips,
He gets up wi' a bawl,
Says, "Come on, my girls, ply in the twine,
Ye're sure to beat them all."
Now the harvest's ended,
And a' thing is made snod;
The harvest hands wi' bundles big
They now must pad the road.
They now must pad the road, my boys,
Amang the frost and snaw;
And they hae sworn a solemn oath,
They'll ne'er come back ava.
But Martinmas it has worn on,
My fee's into my pouch;
And sae merrily, merrily, I will sing,
"I'm oot o' the tyrant's clutch."
For he is the worst master
That ever I did serve;
And gin ye dinna me believe,
Never mind ye this observe.
"Yet another ballad, from the same area, gives a reminder of the farmer's approach to a youngster [at his] first feeing fair." (pp 91-91).
Twas in the merry month of May
When flowers had clad the landscape gay,
To Ellon fair I bent my way
With hopes to find amusement.
A scrankie chiel to me cam' near,
And quickly he began to spier
If I would for the neist half-year
Engage to be his servant.
"I'll need you as an orra loon;
Four poun' ten I will lay down
To you, when Martinmas comes roun'
To close at our engagement.
"Five shillings more will be your due,
If you to me prove just and true;
But that will be referred to you
By my good will and pleasure."
An' to a tent he then set sail,
And bade me follow at his tail;
And he called for a glass o' ale
Therein to keep us sober.
Said he, "A sixpence noo, my loon,
I freely will to you lay down,
Thrippence for ale I will pay soon,
And thrippence buys my fairin'."
When I went hame to my new place,
And at the table showed my face,
It's to the brose they said nae grace -
The time was unco precious.
Although our usage was but scant,
Of wark we never kent the want;
And aye to carry on the rant
The farmer cried, "Come on, lads."
An' when the hairst it did come roun',
It's to a scythe I hid to boun';
Likewise to draw the rake aroun',
To keep the fields in order.