Henry's Songbook

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From the Lambing to the wool

  • Judy Small

    And there've been times when I've wondered
    If it all was worth the doing
    And there've been times when I've thought
    This was the finest place there is
    For though the life here's never easy
    And the hours are long and heavy
    I'm quite contented nowadays
    To have joined my life to his

    My father was a cocky as his father was before him
    And I married me a cocky nearly fifty years ago
    And I've lived here on this station and I've seen the seasons changing
    From the drought round to the flooding, from the lambing to the wool

    Together through the thirties while others' lives were broken
    We worked from dawn to twilight to hold on to what was ours
    And at night we'd sit exhausted and I'd stroke his dusty forehead
    With him too tired to talk to me and me too tired to care

    Then the children came unbidden bringing laughter to the homestead
    And I thanked the Lord my sons were young, too young for battle then
    And I counted myself lucky to lose no one close to family
    Though the neighbours lost their only son, sold up and moved to town

    And the children have grown and left me for careers in town and city
    And I'm proud of them but sadly for none chose station life
    And now I smile to hear them talking of the hard slog in the office
    For when I think of working hard I see a cocky and his wife

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1960:] The term 'cocky' for a farmer originated about the time that Sir John Robertson's Free Selection Act came into force in New South Wales. When the bill was being discussed in Parliament one member complained that the Act would ruin the country because it spread selectors over the land like cockatoos, and eventually the land would be so damaged as to make it worthless. Gradually the term 'cocky' was applied to every small farmer and later those who engaged in dairy farming became known as 'cow cockies'. (Beatty, Treasury 230)

    Cocky: A small farmer or settler. The term is said to have been derived from cockatoo farmer - one who works hard, fencing, ploughing, and sowing his small selection only to see the ground white with cockatoos grubbing up his seed. (Beatty, Treasury 280)

  • [1986:] Written in 1984. This song, loosely based on a conversation I had with the mother of a friend who lived on a sheep station in western New South Wales, is an attempt to redress the imbalance in Australian folk music whereby most of the traditional songs are about the lives of men in the bush - shearers, drovers, bushrangers, swaggies [...]. (Judy Small Songbook 52)

  • [1997:] Eric Bogle wrote a song about a cocky, 'Now I'm Easy' - we call our poor farmers 'cockies' because they eke out their living 'like a cockatoo pecking at a grain' [quotation from an Australian poet] - and I thought: What would have been the wife's story if she hadn't died in the second verse? (Judy Small, intro ToFF)

Quelle: Australia

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