Document 531

Craiters: 07 - E Oolet

Author(s): Alexander Fenton

Copyright holder(s): Alexander Fenton


I’ve seen hairsts wi horse an I’ve seen hairsts wi tractors, nae tae spik o combines. Iv coorse, e horse wis slower, an maybe ye’d tae wirk harder tee. Ye’d tae redd roads wi e scythe roon e corn parks afore ye cd enter a binder. It’s a graan feelin tae swing a scythe throwe stannin corn, sharpin’t wi e brod or e steen ilky sae aften – bit nae ower aften, for if ye vrocht it richt it didna loss e edge ower seen. It wis aye mair o a fecht tae hagger throwe laid corn, though, gin ere’d been a bit o a storm at wid come firther wintit or no. Ye nott tae cut a bigger space inside e gate tae let ye tak aff e roadin wheels o e binder an wind doon e drivin wheel wi its slantin flanges, usin an iron crank. Syne ye wis ready tae go wi yer pair, een on ilky side o e pole, e blade whir-whirrin back an fore an e knotter clickin roon an ay spewin oot a bun shafe in a lang line. It wis a busy sicht an a bonny sicht wi e reel furlin, e blade makin its din, an e fresh smell o new cut stalks in yer nib, ilky stalk wi a hivvy heid o yalla corn at wis cairriet up e canvasses and gaithert at e knotter, wytin for e meenitie o release.

Fin ye wis stookin em, e shafes wis pickit up twa be twa anaith yer oxter, an set up in pairs, fower ir mair pairs against een anither. Wi fit wis scythet, ye’d tae mak yer ain baans, halverin a bunch o strae at ye pickit up in yer twa nivs, layin e heids o e twa halfs egidder, an giein em e richt kinna twist. Like aathing else, ere wis a knack till’t: eence learnt, niver forgotten. Fin ye’d gaithert yer shafe an laid it on tap o e ban, ye’d pit yer knee on’t tae mak it snod for tyin e tails o e ban roon’t, twistin em egidder an syne tuckin e eyns in anaith e knot. Wi shafes aff e binder, ere wis mair o a shear on e dowp, an ye stookit wi e sheer oot sae ere wis as little o em touchin e grun as ye cd manage.

A park o stooks is a bonny sicht, though seldom tae be seen nooadays; fit ye get instead’s raas o big roon bales, an I’ve naething against em, for truth tae tell a big park wi its new shaved stibbly slopes dottit wi e bales an e mornin sin giein em lang shadas is a richt fine sicht tee. I’m nae een tae say e aal days wis better’n e new, for ere’s gweed aboot baith an a buddy mn jist mak e best o e times ey live in. Bit weel, it’s aye jist kinna interestin tae notice foo times an things cheenge an e fowk wi em.

At’s me aff on a wrang tack again, an me spickin aboot stooks. Fit I mint tae say wis wo betide ye gin een o yon weety gales blew up an liftit e stooks an spread e shafes ower e parks again. I wyte stook parade e neesht mornin wis fully e warst job I can think o aboot a place. Ye hid tae get e shafes aff e stibble tae haad em on connacht baith emsels an e new girse at wis tae folla. Hiv ye iver tried a mornin or a day liftin weet shafes? Yer oxters seen get sypit, haad awa fae e swyte, an ye daarna dee’t wi bare airms or ye eyn up wi a sotter o crossin scrats at get aa firet up an bleedy, an I’ll tak waagers at ye winna sleep at nicht. Fither ye’ve bare airms or no, e straes’ll scrat e backs o yer hans an yer wrists onywye, an ye mn jist thole.

E time wid come fin e stooks wis reeshlin dry, an leadin follet. E box cairts wis riggit oot wi hairst frames at geed extra support aa roon for e load ye wis tae get aff e parks an intill e cornyard. I ay landit up forkin ontill e cairt. Ere wis a wye o turnin an layin e shafes tae mak it easier for e bigger on tap o e load, bit ere wis e odd time fin ye wis in an ill teen an ye didna bother, or maybe ye’d faan oot wi e bigger an syne ye’d pirk up e shafes twa at a time an jist aboot droon e peer breeet [sic], till e begood tae roar an fling em aff again. A hairst park’s nae ay a place o sweetness an licht, for fowk are only human. Bit e fairmer wid seen sort sort ye if e noticed ony stramash, for on slopin parkies an roch fairm tracks ye hid tae big richt, layin e shafes weel oot ower e frame tae get a richt load, an hairtin up weel tae bin in e tails. It didna dee for yer load tae faa aff. Apairt fae e extra wirk, an e loss o time wi fowk wytin idle at e rucks, ere wis e chance o brakkin a cairt or foonerin e horse atween e shafts. Naa, naa, it didna dee ataa.

Sae e bigger hid tae be a man o skill, an I niver won up till es livel, ir maybe fowk jist thocht I wis better at forkin. Onywye, forkin wis ma job, an leading e horse an cairt hame, wi Willie flappit on tap o e load, fair teen wi imsel, wheeberin awa like a lairkie bit jist e ae note.

Some places wis lang ahin ithers ir ey got tractors. Iv coorse e bigger fairms got em first, an ma faither an masel wid dee a bit o hairst wark for e een neesht till’s, e exchange bein at ey caaed wir muck an binderet wir ain craps. I winna say bit fit – me bein a hard-up student – I didna get a bit o a backhander fae e fairmer at e eyn o e hairst, an welcome enyeuch it wis. Fin ma faither first dreeve a tractor an trailer fae stook tae stook, e wis ill for nae minin it wisna a horse an e’d shout ‘Wooo!’ afore he minet tae pit eez feet on e brake an e clutch.

Ae thing, it wis a lot harder a hurl oot till e parks. E motion o a horse is slow enyeuch for ye tae coonter a warst o e dunts an dirls as ye sit in e cairt, bit naa, naa, it’s nae e same if ye’re sittin on a tractor bogey. Ower e roch fairm track it wis jist a succession o dirds at geed throwe ye like steady haimmers, yarkin yer doup an yer very teeth, sae ye wis gled tae win aff e track an ontill e safter park, faar e tractor wheels carved oot a lang double line atween e wytin stooks.

We teemed e park, fullin loads, seein em aff till e cornyard, an harly haein tae wyte a meenit afore e secont tractor wis at’s again. If it wis a far awa caa, ye cd get a langer rest. Bit e best bit wis aye piece-time, fin e weemen brocht a basketfae o scones an bannocks wi butter an rhubarb jam an kettles o hait tae wi plinty o sugar till e forkers in a park. Maybe ye hid tae fecht wi e flees tae see fa cd ate faistest, bit deil care, a piece in a park’s afaa fine. Ye cd settle wi yer back till a stook an enjoy e feed, an haad a hyse wi e deem an get as much cheek as ye gied. Ere wis ate plinty o lachin at piece-time.

Ere wisna a lot o privacy in a big park an ye cwidna tak time tae trail up till e wid if ye wintit tae mak watter, sae ye jist hid tae dee e best ye could wi e shelter o a stook. Ere wis ae time I wis forced tae gang an I socht oot e back o a big roch stook. As I wis aboot tae come awa again I heard a bit o a reeshle an a funny kinna squeak inside it. Aye an ill-fashint loon, I haaled awa twa o e shafes an ere wis a smaa broon oolet wi its cat’s e’en an cat’s lugs, feert at’s iv cooorse [sic] an trying tae get awa, bit e craiter hid a broken wing. I tellt e ithers an for eence e curiosity wis mair regairdit’n wark for wi e stooks awa, ere’d be nae mair shelter. Said ma faither –

‘Awa hame for a box’

Naething loath, I ran doon e park, ower e Pitglaissie burn, by e roadman’s hoose at ma faither hid for eez souter’s shop later on, an intae wir ain barn. I’d a hidey-hole o ma ain here. I’d fleered half e couples wi backs, an at wis far I aften geed tae read books I’d cadged fae neebers, an far I keepit a store o ferlies. Ere wis nae laidder up till’t. Ye jist swung yersel up on twa open couples an hitchet yer leg upside doon ower een an wi a bit o a wriggle ye got there. It keepit ither fowk awa fae yer trocks. Eence I missed ma grip an feel heid first ontill e concrete fleer o e barn. I knockit masel oot fir a meenitie, bit nae hairm deen – ir neen at naebody iver noticet. Weel, I got a cardboord box ere, aifter teemin oot a fyow curious steens I’d collectit aff e parks an e dykes, an a puckle all cloots, an wi es I ran aa e wye back again.

We easy got e oolet intill e box, it wisna fechtin aa at much, an likely it hid been ere a gweed file wintin mait. Aifter lowsin time, I took it hame, wi a cloot ower’t in e box, an I tried it wi water an wi loaf an milk (nae haein ony mice handy), an keepit e cats awa, bit ere wis naething we cd dee for its wing an a vet wis niver thocht o. Ye cd see it hid heen a sup at e water fae e spirks roon e tinnie, bit naa, naa, it wis nae eese an twa mornins aifter, it wis deid. I beeriet it at e back o e hoose, aside e boortree busses, at a place faar it widna be disturbit, an set a slaty steen flat abeen e lowse yird.

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Information about Document 531

Craiters: 07 - E Oolet


Text audience

Adults (18+)
General public
Informed lay people
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Year of composition 1994
Word count 1856

Text medium


Text publication details

Publisher Tuckwell Press
Publication year 1995
Place of publication East Linton
ISBN/ISSN 1898410739
Edition First
Part of larger text
Contained in Craiters. Or Twenty Buchan Tales

Text setting

Other Putting the dialect on record, Aberdeenshire

Text type

Prose: fiction
Prose: nonfiction
Short story


Author details

Author id 27
Forenames Alexander
Surname Fenton
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1920
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Academic/Writer/Editor
Place of birth Shotts
Region of birth Lanark
Birthplace CSD dialect area Lnk
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Edinburgh
Region of residence Edinburgh
Residence CSD dialect area Edb
Father's occupation Shoemaker
Father's place of birth Aberdeen
Father's region of birth Aberdeen
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Housewife\Crofter
Mother's place of birth Keith
Mother's region of birth Banff
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Bnf
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes At work
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes At home and wherever possible