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The Term Time / The Weary Farmers

[ Roud 2181 ; G/D 3:391 ; Ballad Index FVS202 ; trad.]

Bothy Songs and Ballads

Kentigern sang The Weary Farmers in 1979 on their eponymous Topic album Kentigern. They noted:

From John Ord’s Bothy Songs and Ballads, this song tells of the harsh treatment suffered by the farm labourers at the hands of their employers.

Katherine Campbell sang The Term Time in 2009 on the CD accompanying her book Songs From North-East Scotland, a selection of songs from the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection.

Fiona Hunter sang The Term Time in 2015 on Malinky’s CD Far Better Days. They noted:

A ploughman’s song also known as The Weary Fairmers. Our version combines verses from Sam Davidson (1864-1951), of Tarves, Aberdeenshire, found in the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection, and Robert Ford’s Vagabond Songs and Ballads of Scotland [p. 248f] to give a more complete narrative.

The Glasgow twist of the Broomielaw appealed to Fiona [Hunter]; in other versions the opening line mentions ‘Cromar Fair’, referencing the area around Tarland where some of Steve [Byrne]’s forebears originated.

This video shows Malinky at TradFest Edinburgh in June 2015:


The Weary Farmers in Vagabond Songs and Ballads of Scotland

Theres’s some that sing o Cromar Fair, an’sound out an alarm,
But the best sang that e’er was sung, It was about the term;
The term-time is drawing near when we will a’ win free,
Aa’ wi’ the weary farmers again we’ll never ’gree.

Chorus (after each verse):
Singing, fal al al the derry, fal al the dee;
Fal the diddle al the derry, fall al the dee

Wi’ broad-tail’d coats and quaker hats, an whips below their arms,
They’ll hawk an ca’ the country round until they a’ get farms.
Their boots a’ glawr, an glitterin’ wi’ spurs upon their heels;
Yet though ye ca’ the country round ye winna find sic deils!

They’ll tip you on the shoulder and speig gin ye’re to fee;
They’ll tell ye a fine story, that’s every word a lee;
They’ll tell you a fine story, and get ye to perform;
But, lads, when ye are under them ye’ll stand the raging storm.

They’ll tak’ ye to an alehouse and gie ye some sma’ beer,
They’ll tak’ a drap unto themsel’s till they get better cheer;
And then the bargain’s ended they’ll toll ye out a shillin’
And grund and say the siller’s scarce—these o’ leein’ villains!

On cauld kail and tawties they’ll feed ye up like pigs,
While they sit at their tea and toast, or ride into their gigs.
The mistress must ger “Mem”—and ye maun lift yer cap to her;
And ere ye find and entrance the muster must get “Sir”.

The harvest time, when it comes on, they’ll grudge Sabbath rest;
They’ll let you to the worship, but they like the workin’ best.
The diet hour it vexes them, and then to us they’ll say,
“Come on, my lads, ye’ll get your rest when lyin’ in the clay.”

They’ll say unto the foreman, “Keep on when leading grain,
And dinna let the orra lads stand idle at the end.
I pay them a’ good wages, and pray ye to get on;
For when they’re dead an’ in the grave there’s mair when they are done.”

Malinky sing The Term Time

They sing about the Broomielaw, they sing o lan’s alairm,
But the best sang that e’er was sung was sung aboot the term.
The term time is comin lads, an we will aa win free,
An wi the weary fairmers again we winna fee!

Chorus (after each verse):
Come a raddy um a rowdow, raddy um a ree
Raddy um a rowdow, fa-la-lee

First there comes the mairket, an then there comes the term,
So aa ye weary fairmers, dinna be alairmed.
They’ll tap ye on the shouther an say, “Lad, are ye tae fee?”
They’ll tell ye a lang tale that’s every word a lee!

Wi broad-tailed coats an Quaker hats, an whups alow their airms,
They dunt an ride on horseback when they get a fiarm.
Their boots aa glaur an glitterin an spurs upon their heels,
Altho ye caa the country roon we winna fin sic chiels!

He’ll pit his han intae his pooch an he’ll pu oot a shillin
An he’ll say siller’s unco scarce, aye, the leein villain!
They’ll tell ye every jot o wark that ye hae tae perform
But lads, when ye’re under them ye’ll stand the ragin storm!

On cauld kail an tatties they feed ye like a pig
While they sit at their tea an toast or hurl in their gig.
The diet hour it vexes them, an then tae us they’ll say,
“Come on ma lads, ye’ll get yer rest when lyin in the clay!”

An noo ma song is ended, a warnin tak frae me
An wi the weary fairmers be sure an dinna fee!