Thigging was not confined to the gathering of the seed by a new tenant. A crofter, with a bad crop, at times went the round of the country during harvest, and begged grain in the fodder. In later times this was done with a cart. Usually a few sheaves were given by each farmer and brother-crofter. The poor man collected in this way a quantity sufficient for his need, and was able to tide over his distress.
It was only the higher and drier parts of the land that were cultivated. The low and wet parts were reserved for growing "rashes" and "sprots," which formed cattle-litter and thatch for the grain-stacks and houses. The land was not divided into regular and shapely fields. There was a patch here and a patch there in the middle of a tract overgrown with heather or whin or broom, and often choked up with stones. Even in the cultivated parts of larger size there was no regularity. They were twisted, bent like a bow, zig-zag, of all shapes, and cut
up by "baaks," into which were gathered stones and such weeds as were taken from the portion under crop.
There was no fixed rotation of crops. Each farmer did as he thought fit. Here is one system.
The lea was ploughed and sown with oats. This crop was called the "ley crap." The next crop was also of oats, and was named the "yaavel crap." At times a second "yaavel" was taken. The land was then manured and sown with bere. The crop which followed was the "bar-reet crap," and was of oats. Then came the second "bar-reet crap," and last of all the "waarshe crap." The land was then allowed to rest for an indefinite number of years, according to the fancy of the owner. It soon ran to a sward of natural grasses.
It was not at all uncommon to leave a "rig" or two unsown for the wild oats to grow up. They came earlier to maturity than the cultivated, and thus furnished the staff of life for the time between the exhaustion of the old crop and the incoming of the new.
Some left a corner uncultivated altogether for "the aul man," i. e. the devil, or spirit of evil.
The plough was made of wood, and was of so simple and easy construction that a man had no difficulty in making one in a day, or in even less time.
The harrows were of wood, and the tynes of the same material, and for the most part of birch. The thrifty, foreseeing farmer often spent part of his winter evenings in preparing tynes. When prepared they were hung in bundles on the rafters of the kitchen to dry and harden.
Ropes were made either of hair, willows, bog-fir split up into canes, broom roots, or heather.
On large farms the plough was drawn by twelve oxen, and was called a "twal ousen plew." Counting from the pair next the plough, the name of each pair was --
[paragraph continues] The oxen were driven by the "gaadman." He carried a long polo, sharpened at one end, or tipped with iron, which he applied to the animal that was shirking his work. The "gaadman" usually whistled to cheer the brutes in their work. Hence the proverb to signify that much exertion had been made with poor results:--"Muckle fuslan all little red-laan."
The oxen were yoked to the plough by a common rope called the "soum." The bridle of the plough bore the name of the "cheek-lone," to which the "fit-yoke," was attached by the "rack-baan." Hence the origin of the two phrases, "a crom i the soum," and "a thrum i the graith," to indicate that a hitch had taken place in the carrying out of an undertaking.
With such slender-looking materials as a wooden plough and graith made of "sauch waans," one unacquainted with the strength of such was apt to look down upon the implement. Tradition has it that a Lord Povost of Aberdeen began, in the hearing of one of the Dukes of Gordon, to make light of a "twal-ousen plew." The duke defended, and asserted that his plough would tear up the "plainstanes" of Aberdeen. The Provost accepted the challenge. A day was fixed. The duke hastened home, and had everything made of the best material, and in the strongest fashion. Oxen, plough, and graith, were conveyed to Aberdeen, with the Duke's best ploughman and most skilful "gaadman." On the day appointed, and at the hour fixed, the "twal-ousen plew" in all its splendour was on the spot. The duke and the provost, with a crowd of eager onlookers, stood round. A small hole had been made to allow the plough to enter, and it was duly placed in it, and hold firm by the iron grip of a stalwart Gordon, whilst the gaadman stood watching his team. The word was given to begin. The "gaadman" struck up his tune and applied the "gaad"; the oxen bent their necks, raised their backs, and tugged; but the stones remained immoveable. The strain was slackened, and the oxen drew breath. Again did the "gaadman" try his skill and cheer on the brutes. When the full strain was felt one of the fit-yoke shirked the pull. The Duke's keen eye saw what the "gaadman" failed to see. It was the critical moment. Everything
depended on that ox. The duke shouted out "The brod t Brockie." In an instant the "brod" was in Brockie's flank. Brockie bowed his neck, and curved his back. Down went the plough, away tugged the oxen, and right and left flew the "plainstanes" of Aberdeen before the Duke of Gordon's "twal-ousen plew."
When the plough was "strykit," i. e., put into the ground for the first time in autumn or spring, to prepare the soil for the seed, bread and cheese, with ale or whisky, were carried to the field, and partaken of by the household. A piece of bread with cheese was put into the plough, and another piece was cast into the field "to feed the craws."
When the seed was once taken to the field, it must on no account be taken back to the barn, if the weather broke, and prevented it from being sown. It lay on the field till the weather cleared up and the soil became fit for being sown, however long the time might be.
Harvesting was done by the sickle, and eight harvesters, four men and four women, were put on each "rig." A binder and a "stooker" were appointed to each eight reapers. At times there were only two on each rig. Before commencing work on the harvest field, each reaper cast a cross on the ground with the sickle "to keep the wrist from being sprained." During a wet harvest the sheaves, after having the band drawn up to the ears, were set up on end singly to dry. This process was called "gyttin." The reapers when at work, looked for a kindly salutation from the passers-by, and took it ill if such a greeting was not given. A common one was "God speed the wark."
It was believed by some that a very mysterious animal, which when met with by the reapers among the corn had the appearance of a grey stone, but which could change its shape, lived among the corn. When met with, a small quantity of the crop was left standing around it, and the ears of grain only were cut off. This animal looks like the hedgehog.
The "clyack" sheaf was cut by the maidens on the harvest field. On no account was it allowed to touch the ground. One
of the maidens seated herself on the ground, and over her knees was the band of the sheaf laid. Each of the maidens cut a handfull, or more if necessary, and laid it on the band. The sheaf was then bound, still lying over the maiden's knees, and dressed up in woman's clothing. It was carried home in triumph and carefully preserved till Christmas or New Year morning. On that morning it was given to a mare in foal, if such was on the farm, and if not, it was given to the oldest cow. Some left a few stalks unreaped for the benefit of "the aul man."
When the "clyack" sheaf was cut, the reapers threw their sickles to divine in what direction the farm lay on which they were to be reapers the following harvest. The sickle was thrown three times over the left shoulder, and note was taken in what direction its point lay. The" best o three" decided the question--that is, if the point twice lay in the same direction, the reaper was to reap the next harvest on a farm, in that direction.
The reapers on neighbouring farms always vied with each other who should have the crop first reaped. Those who finished first fired one or more shots into their neighbours' fields.
The best produce of the farm was served up for dinner on the day "clyack" was taken, if it was taken before the hour of dinner. If the cutting of the crop was finished after the dinner-hour, then the feast was served as supper. One part of the feast that could not be dispensed with was a cheese which was called the "clyack kebback." Like the "yeel kebback," it must be cut by the gueedman. The absence of this cheese from the "clyack" feast, or its being cut by another than the master of the household, would have been unpropitious.
The one who took the last of the grain from the field to the stackyard was called the "winter." Each one did what could be done to avoid being the last on the field, and when there were several on the field there was a race to get off.
The unfortunate "winter" was the subject of a good deal of teasing, and was dressed up in all the old clothes that could be gathered about the farm, and placed on the "bink" to eat his supper.
When all was safe and snug for the winter season, there was the "meel an ale"--that is, a feast in which a dish made of ale, oatmeal, sugar, with whisky, formed the characteristic dish. In some districts this feast was called "the winter." Commonly to it were invited the unmarried folks from the neighbouring farms and the evening was spent in "dance and jollity."
One was not over exact in gathering from the fields all the scattered ears of grain. Birds had to be fed as well as man, and some of the bounties of Providence had to be left for the fowls of the air.
The winnowing of the grain was done by the wind. The barn had two doors, the one right opposite the other, and between the two doors, when the wind was suitable, the winnowing was carried on by means of riddles having meshes of different sizes. When fans were introduced, there was great prejudice against the use of them. The wind was looked upon as the means provided by the Father of all for separating the chaff from the grain, and to cast it away and use artificial wind was regarded as a slur on His wisdom and a despising of His gifts. An old-fashioned man in the parish of Pitsligo, on seeing a neighbour proceed to winnow his grain with a fan, cried out:--"Eh! Sauny Milne, Sauny Milne, will ye tak the poor oot o the Almichty's han?"
It was the common saying that the produce of the land in each period of seven years was consumed within that period.
The tradition was that, when mills for grinding grain into meal were first introduced, those sites were chosen to which water for driving the wheel flowed naturally. There must be no artificial embanking, and little or no turning of the water from its natural run. The site of the mill was fore-ordained by Providence. Man had merely to use his powers to find out the site.
The wheel of the mill could be stopped by throwing into the race some mould taken from a churchyard at midnight, and the repeating the Lord's Prayer backward during the act of casting the mould, "the meels," into the water.
Cattle, like human beings, were exposed to the influences of the evil eye, of forespeaking, and of the casting of evil. Witches and warlocks did the work of evil among their neighbours' cattle if their anger had been aroused in any way.
The fairies often wrought injury amongst cattle. 1 Every animal that died suddenly was killed by the dart of the fairies, or, in the language of the people, was "shot-a-dead." 2 Flint arrows and spear-heads went by the name of "faery dairts," whilst the kelts were called "thunderbolts," and were coveted as the sure bringers of success, provided they were not allowed to fall to the ground. When an animal died suddenly the canny woman of the district was sent for to search for the "faery dairt," and in due course she found one, to the great satisfaction of the owner of the dead animal.
There were those who were dreaded as buyers, if the purchase was not completed by them. In a short time the animal began to "dwine," or an accident befell it, or death speedily followed. Such had an "ill-ee." 3 It was alleged that they were well aware of the opinion entertained of their power, and offered a price less than that of the market, fully aware that the seller would rather give the animal at the low price than risk a sale in the market, or no sale at all, for the same men were believed to prevent the sale to any other.
One mode of in enemy's working evil among a neighbour's cattle was to take a piece of carrion, cut the surface of it into small pieces, and bury it in the dunghill, or put it over the lintel of the door. Such carrion was called "hackit-flesh." If disease broke out among the cattle of a farm, the dunghill was carefully searched for "hackit-flesh." If such a thing was found it was taken to a short distance from the "toon," and always to a spot above it, and there burned.
If the "hackit flesh" was not found, and if it was divined
that the disease arose from the work of a witch or a warlock, the carcass of the animal which first died was burned.
Not many years ago two farmers on the north-east coast of Aberdeenshire, one of whom bore the character of being "uncanny," as all his "forebeers" had been, quarrelled over a bargain. A short time after, a horse belonging to the one who provoked the quarrel was taken ill and died. It was the "uncanny" man who had done the deed. Within a day of the death of the first a second was taken ill, and died. It was drawn forth from the stable to a convenient spot, and piled round with a quantity of peats. The heap of fuel was set on fire, and for several days the pile burned.
Near the same place, but many years ago, a crofter's cow fell ill, and died. Not long after a second fell ill, and died too. In a short time the remaining cow was seized with the same disease. A "skeely" man wast sent for. He came, examined the cow, and told the owner that the cow would soon die as the other two had done. He then went into the kitchen and seated himself on the "dies," that he might give further instructions. He told at the same time that all was the work of a near neighbour. There was, however, only one near neighbour, and the owner of the cows said it could not be that near neighbour, calling her by name. The man made no reply to this, but went on to say that a woman carrying a little black jar would soon enter, and ask for a little milk, which was on no account to be given. Scarcely had he finished giving this order, than in walked this near neighbour, carrying a black jar, and asked for a little milk. It was at once refused. She looked at the man of skill for a moment, and then seated herself on the "dies" not far from him. While the conversation was being carried on, the woman with the black jar was trying to move nearer and nearer the man of skill. But he saw what she was aiming at, and he moved away little by little, always followed by the woman, both to all appearance unconscious of each other's movements. At last the man reached the end of the "dies," and the woman was coming always nearer. He jumped to the middle of the floor, and thus saved himself. Had the woman laid her hand on him all his skill was gone.
The cow died. She was dragged away to a convenient spot, and burnt to ashes in accordance with the man's orders.
About the year 1850 disease broke out among the cattle of a small farm in the parish of Resoliss, Black Isle, Ross-shire. The farmer prevailed on his wife to undertake a journey to a wise, woman of renown in Banffshire to ask a charm against the effects of the "ill ee." The long journey of upwards of fifty miles was performed by the good wife, and the charm was got. One chief thing ordered was to burn to death a pig, and sprinkle the ashes over the byre and other farm buildings. This order was carried out, except that the pig was killed before it was burned. A more terrible sacrifice was made at times. One of the diseased animals was rubbed over with tar, driven forth, set on fire, and allowed to run till it fell down and died. 1
When the quarter-ill made its appearance the "muckle wheel" was set in motion, and turned till fire was produced. From this virgin flame fires were kindled in the byres. At the same time, if neighbours requested the favour, live coals were given them to kindle fires for the purification of their homesteads and turning off the disease. Fumigating the byres with juniper was a method adopted to ward off disease.
Such a fire was called "needfyre." The kindling of it came under the censure of the Presbytery at times.
"The said day [28 Februarii, 1644], it was regraited be Mr. Robert Watsone that ther vas neid fyre raysed vithin his parochin of Grange for the curing of cattell, etc. The bretherin thoght to referr the mater to the consideratioun of the Provinciall Assemblie."
"28th Martii, 1649, Mr. Robert Watson regrated the kindling of neidfyre vithin his parochin. Referred to the consideratioun of the Assemblie of course to be taken heirwith."
"Penult Maij 1649, compeired . . . . . . parishoneris of Grange, confessed they ver present at the kindling of neidfyre, and did nothing but as they ver desired be James Duncan in Keyth. Also, they delated some of their owne elderis to haue been accessorie thereto . . . . . . all ordained to satisfie according to the ordinance of the Provinciall Assemblie, vith three dayes repentance in sackcloth." 2
The fore-legs of one of the animals that had died were cut
off a little above the knee, and hung over the fire-place in the kitchen. 1 It was thought sufficient by some if they were placed over the door of the byre, in the "crap o the wa." Sometimes the heart and part of the liver and lungs were cut out, and hung over the fireplace instead of the fore-feet. Boiling them was at times substituted for hanging them over the hearth.
Transferring the disease was another mode of cure. To do this the carcass was secretly buried on a neighbouring farm; but, as this act transferred the disease to the neighbour's cattle, it was seldom done. The animal was conveyed by night to a wood or a lone hill-side on a neighbouring proprietor's lands and buried. Sometimes the dead animal was buried in the bottom of a ditch dividing farms or proprietors' lands. It is not over forty years since a firmer in the parish of Keith, on the lands of the Earl of Fife, carted the carcass of an animal to a hill on the property of the Earl of Seafield, and there buried it. In doing this act all care had to be used to avoid detection; for, if the actors had been caught in the act, they would have had to pay dearly for their deed.
A mode of arresting the progress of disease on a farm was the place on the farm where the dead animal was buried; it must be buried "abeen" the "toon" and not "aneth" it.
Another series of cures was by draughts prepared in particular ways.
Let a new shilling be put into a pail or cog and water poured over it; such water was considered of great efficacy in effecting a cure.
A few years ago a farmer who happened to be in the seaport village of Portgordon was asked to visit and prescribe for a sick cow belonging to one of the villagers. He asked if anything had been done in the way of cure. "Oo aye," said the woman, "a ga ir a drink aff o a new shillin yesterday, in a think she's been some better sin seen." But the most noted medicine of the draught kind is furnished by Willox "stone" and bridle. This stone and bridle have been in possession of the family for generations. All the virtue lies in the stone and the bridle, and
not in the possessor or operator. A small quantity of water is poured into a basin. The stone is put into the water and turned three times round while the words, "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost," are repeated. The bridle is then dropped into the water and turned round in the same way, and with the same words. The water so treated has the power to cure all manner of disease. 1
To keep the witches at a distance there were various methods, and all of approved value. On bonfire night (1st May, O.S.) small pieces of rowan-tree and woodbine were placed over the byre doors inside the house. Sometimes it was a single rod of rowan, covered with notches. There is the well-known rhyme:--
[paragraph continues] Another and even more effectual method was to tie to each animal's tail by a scarlet thread a small cross made of the wood of the rowan-tree; hence the rhymes:--
[paragraph continues] And,
[paragraph continues] When all animal was led away to market the besom was thrown on it to ward off all harm from witches, the "ill-ee," or "forespeaking."
The halter by which the animal was led went along with it when sold; to have taken it off would have been unpropitious. It was taken off when the animal reached the byre door, and cast on the roof of the byre, where it was allowed to lie. The removal of it from the roof would have brought down misfortune on the beast that had been purchased.
If the seller of an animal was in the least degree suspected of possessing uncanny powers, the buyer made the sign of the cross on the animal's side, "to keep as ain." This was done in an
especial manner if the animal was a milch cow, as it prevented the seller from retaining the milk though he sold the cow. When the bargain, was settled on, the buyer and seller struck hands, or, wetting their thumbs, pressed them together. Both went to a tent, many of which had been pitched on the market-green for the sale of refreshments, when payment was made, and the "blockan ale" drunk. The seller, on receiving payment, returned a "luck penny" to the buyer, a sixpence, a shilling, or a larger sum, if it was thought a "stret bargain." 1
The chief enemies of the dairy were the witch and the warlock, 2 that had the power of drawing away the milk and the cream of the cows. There were various modes of doing so. The witch with hair streaming over her face and shoulders has been seen on her knees in the byres beside a blazing fire. Then she has been known to make the milk pour through the key-hole of the door or from the foot of the couple. 3 She has been observed to turn herself into a hare, mount on the cow's back, and sit for a time, and the milk has departed, whilst she never wanted milk, though she had no cow at all, or, if she had one, though she was "ferra."
When a neighbour's cow, whose milk was to be taken, was in the act of calving, a pot was placed beside the fire by the witch. At the time the calf dropped from the cow, of which the milk-stealer was informed by one in her service, by
the milk poured into the pot, and the milk of the cow could afterwards be drawn by the witch at any time, and at any distance.
To prevent the milk from being taken away at the time of calving, the moment the calf dropped from the cow, its mouth was opened, and a little of the dam's excrement thrust in. If a witch had her pot beside the fire to draw away the milk, it was
by this act performed on the calf, filled with dirt instead of milk.
When the first milk was drawn from the cow after calving, three "strins" from each pap were milked through a finger-ring. A silver one was preferred about Tomintoul. Others put a shilling into the cog. An old shilling, called a "crosst shillan," or a crossie-croon shillan," was in the possession of some families, and was preserved with great care. Those who had not the good fortune to possess such a treasure made use of a coin current at the time. Others put into the cog a horse-shoe nail. A stallion's shoe nail had most efficacy.
A more elaborate method of preserving the milk from the power of the witch was the following:--Three "strins" from each dug were milked through a marriage ring into a small pot. This quantity of milk was hung over the fire till it curdled. The curds were salted, put into a small piece of cloth, and hung up within the chimney so high that nothing would disturb it.
Another mode of keeping the witch at a distance was to plait a piece of cord the contrary way, or with the left hand, and tie it round the animal's neck "atween the sin in the sky" at sunset.
The first draught of water given to the cow after calving was off a shilling.
When the cow was driven forth for the first time after calving, the tongs or a piece of iron and a live coal were laid in the byre door, and the animal passed over them. In other places, instead of iron, fire and salt were used. If the cow trampled on the fire, by so much more efficacious was the charm. This ceremony of placing iron and fire or fire and salt in the byre door was observed by some with respect not to newly-calved cows alone, but to all the cattle when they were driven forth to grass in spring.
In other places the cow was taken from the byre with the "seal" on her neck. The witch had no power over an animal with the "seal" on its neck.
To bring back the milk when taken away there were several
methods. The gueedewife when alone and with barred door took what milk the cow had, and put it into a pot along with a quantity of needles and pins, or even nails. She put on a large fire, and hung the pot over it. Before the lapse of a long time the guilty witch came to the window in agony, and with the prayer to be relieved, and the promise to restore the milk. Sometimes the cow's urine was substituted for the milk. Another method was to catch some of the animal's urine in a bottle, cork it tightly, and keep it. In no long time the milk-stealer made her appearance, confessed her wicked deed, and entreated to be relieved of the disease with which he had been seized. 1
A crofter in the north-east of Buchan bought a cow. He took her home, and everything seemed right and proper with the animal when tied lip in the byre. But, when she was put to the pasture, she made straight to a large boulder that was near the pasture, tore up the earth round the stone, throwing it over her back and bellowing. It was with difficulty she could be dragged away from it, and with as much difficulty kept on the tether. When put to pasture morning after morning, she ran to the stone, scraped, and bellowed. At the same time her milk disappeared. A wise man was consulted. A witch had been at work, and the deed had been done beside the boulder. The cure was as follows:--The small quantity of milk still remaining to the cow was taken from her, put into a pot with eleven new pins--pins that had "never been in claith"--and boiled. This boiled milk was then poured round the foot of the stone. The cow never afterwards went to the stone, and her milk returned to its full flow.
A man's cow on the north coast of Buchan fell ill. Her milk left her. She was under the spell of a witch. A wise man lived on the east coast of Buchan, and he had to be consulted. The owner of the cow, along with a friend, set out early for a consultation; for, generally, on such occasions, two went. On arriving, they were received by the canny man with the greeting, "Cum awa, a wiz leukin for ye." The story of the cow was told him. He gave the owner a powder for the animal, and at
the same time enjoined the two men not to speak to any one in their journey homewards, and to go straight to the byre, and administer the powder to the beast. All this was carried out to the letter. The two men then retired to the dwelling-house to get food. When one of the family shortly after entered the byre to see if the cow was dead, she was found standing, to all appearance in perfect health, and with the milk running from her. The gueedewife began to milk, and drew from the cow two and a-half large pailfuls of milk.
A woman's cow was seized with a fit of lowing and restlessness on the pasture. She was under the power of a witch. The woman went to the nearest wood, and cut a branch of rowan tree and another of ash. A cross was made from the rowan tree, and tied with a piece of red thread to the animal's tail amongst the hair at its point. A small piece was cut off the ash-branch. Three slits crosswise were made in one end of it, and into each slit was stuck a pin, so that the pills crossed each other. This was placed above the byre-door on the inside.
Another means to bring back a cow's milk, when taken away by a witch, was to pour a little of the milk that still remained on a boulder between the "screef an the stehn," that is, below the lichen growing on the stone.
Another mode of doing so was to take the churn across running water, dip it three times in the stream, and carry it back without speaking to any one.
Sometimes it happened that a cow on her first milk gave a large quantity of it. After her second calf she gave almost none. The witch had been at work. The animal had to be sold. When sold, the reason for selling was told to the buyer. The animal was resold, and the milk returned to the second buyer.
To prevent a cow from being "forespoken" it was the custom to draw water from the well on the morning of the first day of each "raith" (quarter) between the sun and the sky, pour it into a cog or pail over a new shilling, and give it to the animal as a draught. If a cow was not thriving, or if she was not giving the quantity of milk she usually gave, and there was a suspicion that she was forespoken, the suspicion must be put to the test
and the truth discovered. A little of the cow's milk was put into a pot with some needles and pins. If the milk boiled as it ordinarily does there was no forespeaking. If it boiled up like water the forespeaking was undoubted. To undo the evil the milking-cogs were washed with the stale urine of the forespoken animal.
If the cow's milk had been taken away, merely to discover who had done the deed, two ceremonies, both similar, were performed. A pair of trousers was tied over the animal's head, and she was driven forth from the byre between the sun and the sky. She went straight to the house of the one who had taken her milk. In the other ceremony a mare's bridle was used instead of the pair of trousers.
If lumps appeared in the cow's udder after calving she was milked into a tin pail, an act which proved an effectual cure. Another mode of cure was to rub the udder with water heated by plunging red-hot iron into it.
To increase the quantity of milk at the expense of a neighbour on the morning of the first day of each "raith" the dew was gathered off the pasture of his cows, and the milk utensils were rinsed with it.
A method of increasing the quantity of milk without any injury to a neighbour was to boil "white gowans" (Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum), and to wash all the milk utensils with the decoction.
For milk to boil over the edge of the pot and run into the fire was very unlucky, and diminished the quantity of milk given by the cow or cows. To counteract the evil consequences salt was immediately thrown into the fire.
The milk utensils were for the most part washed indoors. This was done to prevent the possibility of wild animals touching the milk, because, if they did so, the udders of the cows festered. Such was the custom around Tomintoul. If the utensils were washed in a stream or pond, great care was employed not to allow any of the water used in washing to fall back into the stream or pond. It was scrupulously thrown on the bank, and always in the direction up the stream. This was done lest the
frogs should swallow any particle of the milk, in which case all the milk became thick and stringy, somewhat like "poddock-cruds."
The "ream-pig" or "ream-bowie" was never washed. Washing took away all the luck. A sixpence was always kept in it. A crooked one had most virtue. A frog was kept by some in it, and bore the name of "paddle-doo" or "gueede butter-gaitherer."
A servant unacquainted with such a custom entered on the service of a gueedewife, who followed the habit of keeping a "paddle-doo." The first time the servant creamed the milk she observed the large overgrown frog in the "ream-bowie." She immediately seized it, and cast it forth on the dung-hill. After finishing her work, she told her mistress what she had found, and what she had done. She received a sharp rebuke, and was sent to search the dung-hill for the frog. The frog was found, carefully taken up, washed clean, and replaced.
The cream was usually kept for a considerable length of time for weeks, and even for months. There was at the bottom of the utensil in which the cream was kept a small hole into which was inserted a short tube, stopped by a pin. This tube and pin went by the name of a "cock and pail" and served to draw off the thin sour part of the cream--the "wig."
When the butter was being churned a crooked sixpence, 1 or a cross of rowan-tree, or a horse-shoe was placed below the churn. When one entered the house during the process of churning, the hand of the one who entered had to be put to the churn. This was done to show that there was no evil intended against the butter-making, and to do away with all effects that might flow from the "ill-ee" or the "ill-fit." There were persons whose entrance was dreaded during the process of butter-making. If such did enter there was either no butter, or it was bad in quality, or less in quantity than it should have been, and got only after hours of churning.
That the cow might calve during day, she was let "yeel" on Sunday. 2 When the calf fell from the cow it was on no account
touched with the hand first. Such an act would have cause shivering in the animal and this shivering might have gone on to paralysis, and terminated in death. The human hand, stained with sin, brought about this result. Something must be between the animal and the human hand the first time it was touched--a little straw or the apron. Neither was it safe to lay the hand at any time on the calf's back. 1
When a cow was to be taken to market she was not milked on that morning. Such an act was unlucky, and would have hurt the sale of the animal. A case of this kind was prosecuted some time ago in Aberdeen by the Association for Preventing Cruelty to Animals. The Sheriff decided for the defendants.
If a milch cow was sold in the byre the "seal" went along with her. This was done to prevent the seller, if he had the power, from retaining the milk, and a witch from taking it away on her removal to another byre. All the luck that should attend the beast went with the "seal," and all the evil influences to which she was exposed were warded off by its going along with the animal.
The fields in many districts were unfenced, and the cattle had to be tended, "hirdit." The "hird" used a stick for driving the cattle--"a club." If possible the club was of ash. 2 This was because, if it had to be used, which was often done by throwing, it was believed that it would break no bones, and would not injure the beast if struck. In some districts this club was ornamented with a carving representing "Jockie's plew." Tradition has it that at one time there was in use a plough drawn by thirty oxen. This plough was made of oak, of great strength, and with one stilt, having a cross piece of wood at its end for the ploughman to hold it by. Its work was lately to be seen on many moors in the broad curved ridges that went by the name of "Burrel Rigs." The carving on the "hirdie club" was very simple; it consisted of notches cut in a small piece of the club, smoothed for the purpose, to show in what way the Oxen were yoked. "Jockie," as the ploughman was called, was
represented by a cross, as well as the two oxen before the last four. Here is the order in which the oxen were yoked:--
[paragraph continues] In other districts the "hird" carved in notches merely the number of cattle in the herd, giving the bull, if there was one in the herd, a cross.
Here is a tradition about a "hird" and his "club." A half-witted lad during "the 45" was tending cattle on the haugh on which Duff House now stands, near the "King's Ford," in the river Deveron. A detachment of the royal army crossed the ford in boats. On reaching the haugh on which the cattle were grazing the soldiers seized the "hird." They examined his club, and found that the number of notches cut on it corresponded with the number of boats by which they had crossed the river. The simpleton was taken for a spy, and notwithstanding every kind of protestation of innocence and remonstrance he was condemned to death, carried to a place near the churchyard of Boyndie, and there hanged against the gable of a house from the roof-tree that projected beyond the wall.
Each animal had its name, and was trained to answer to it when called.
Here is a rhyme those who watched the cattle used to repeat at the top of their voice on seeing each other's cattle wandering:--
The name of the "hird" whose beast was straying was added in the last line. The last line sometimes took the form:--
184:1 Choice Notes, p. 38.
184:2 Cf. Henderson, pp, 185-7.
184:3 Choice Notes, p. 257.
186:1 Cf. Henderson, pp. 148, 149.
186:2 Extracts from "the Presbytery Book of Strathbogie," pp. 51, 104, 105 Spalding Club, Aberdeen. A.D. 1843. Cf. Henderson, pp. 167, 168.
187:1 Cf. Henderson, p. 167.
188:1 Cf. Henderson, pp. 163-166.
188:2 Cf. Henderson, pp. 225, 226; Choice Notes, pp. 38, 39.
189:1 Cf. Henderson, pp. 119, 120; Notes and Queries, 5th series, vol. vi. p. 6.
189:2 Cf. Henderson, pp. 183, 184.
189:3 Cf. Songs of the Russian People, p. 391.
191:1 Cf. Henderson, p. 186.
194:1 Cf. Henderson, p, 183.
194:2 Notes and Queries, 5th series, vol. vi. p. 109.
195:1 Cf. ibid. p. 109.
195:2 Cf. Choice Notes, p. 24.