> Folk Music > Songs > Harrowing Time / The Plooman’s Due

Harrowing Time / The Plooman’s Due

[ Roud 5587 ; G/D 3:421 ; Ballad Index DBuch70 ; trad.]

John Ord: Bothy Songs and Ballads

John Strachan sang Harrowing Time to Alan Lomax and Hamish Henderson in Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, on 16 July 1951. This recording was included in 2002 on his Rounder anthology Songs From Aberdeenshire. Hamish Henderson and Ewan McVicar noted:

This tune is one that in the Northeast is most associated with the favourite song Drumdelgie, detailing many of the tasks of the horseman’s work. Harrowing Time concentrates on one aspect, the harrowing—dragging a heavy-toothed frame over ploughed land to break up clods and even the ground. John omits two verses in which the “hard farmer” gives the men no rest, but he keeps in the request for a pay rise.

Barbara Dymock sang The Cauld, Cauld Winter’s Gane, Luve on her 2011 album Hilbert’s Hotel.

Peter Shepheard sang The Plooman’s Due in 2012 on Shepheard, Spiers & Watson’s Springthyme album Over the High Hills. They noted:

This Fife bothy ballad tells of a day in the life of the plough men in the Spring of the year as they are called out by the foreman to work their horses on the land.

Pete Shepheard: I learnt this from the singing of Archie Webster of Strathkinness in Fife in 1968 (Springthyme 17.6.68). Archie was himself a made horseman and worked on the farm of Denbrae outside St Andrews where the work of the farm was done entirely with horse and man until the 1950s.

The song is in the Greig Duncan collection under the title Harrowing Time where, as here, it is sung to variations of the tune Drumdelgie.


John Strachan sings Harrowing Time

Cauld winter’s storm is noo awa and summer’s come again,
And the cauld dry winds o Mairch month hae driven awa the rain.
Hae driven awa the dreary rain, likewise the frost and snaw.
So our foreman in the momin he is ordered oot tae saw.

Sae on we drive until the sun ahint yon hill is hide,
And syne we lowse our horses tired, and homeward we do ride.
And homeward we do ride fu keen to get our horses fed.
We kaim them weel baith back and heel and their tails and manes we redd.

When that is done we supper get, and after that we hie,
Awa tae see wir pretty girls a milking o their kye.
Each one to see his sweethert and pree her cherry moo,
Then tak her dachin ower her plash, shak hands and bid adieu.

So now I mean to end my song and I will end wi this:
May the ploomen get mair waages it is my earnest wish.
It is my heartfelt wish I say, it is theplooman’s due,
For he sustains baith rich and peer be the handling o the ploo.

Peter Shepheard sings The Plooman’s Due

Cauld winter now is over an Spring is come again,
The cauld winds o Mairch month has driven awa the rain;
Has driven awa the dreary rain likewise the frost an snaw,
An the foreman in the mornin has ordered oot tae saw.

Has ordered oot tae saw my boys an we maun follae fast,
But we’re told by oor hard maister that there’ll be nae time tae rest;
For we maun be intae the yoke each mornin by half five,
An merrily merrily ower the rigs oor horses we will drive.

We wander then till twelve o’clock tae dinner then we go,
We scarce hae gotten a half an oor when the foreman cries, “Hallo!
Hallo, hallo, hallo ma lads, it’s yokin time again,
Come let us get it aa harried afore it comes on rain.”

We wander then until the sun behind the hill does hide,
‘Tis then oor horses we will lowse an hameward we will ride;
Hameward we will ride ma boys an get oor horses fed,
We’ll kame them weel fae hape tae heel an their tails an manes we’ll rade.

An after that we supper then an after that we hie,
Tae see oor bonnie lassies a-milkin o their kye;
A-milkin o their kye ma lads an pree their cherry mou,
An tak a daffin oor or twa, shak hands an bid adieu.

‘Tis noo ma song I mean tae end and end it up wi this,
Let ploomen get mair wages it is the ploomen’s wish;
Let ploomen get mair wages it is the ploomen’s due,
For he keeps up the rich and grand by the sweat that’s on his broo.