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TITLE
The Calf Herd
EXTERNAL ID
HC_GAELICSTORYTAPE_020
DATE OF RECORDING
1997
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
unknown
SOURCE
The Highland Council
ASSET ID
2356
KEYWORDS
oral tradition
folklore
stories
Gaelic
story telling
audio

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This story is recorded in Gaelic and the following is an English translation.

The Calf Herd.

There was once a poor widow who had one son, and when this boy was about 10 years of age he said to his mother that he had now reached an age when he could be of help to his mother. So, with her permission and if she was willing that he would leave without delay.

"If you are going away to look for work," his mother said to him, "you will go to the farmer and perhaps you will get work with him as a herd. And if you do, remember now not to go too far away with the cattle; and when they lie down you can come home for a little while. But if you are looking after the calves, keep an eye on them at any price."

With that he got his mother's blessing. He took his leave and went away. He had not gone very far on his journey when he met a fine old man.

"Indeed you are very happy, my lad," said the old man, "what fine form you are in! Where are you going today?"

"I am going to the farmer," replied the boy, "to see if I can get work from him."

"Well then," said the old man, "I shall give you some advice. Don't you take work except where you see the cat with good fur. That is my advice to you."

"Many thanks to you," replied the boy, "I shall remember that, and indeed I will."

He carried on until he came to a river that flowed through a glen. He came to the river with a running jump and in an instant he was on the far side of the river. He carried on then until he reached the farmer's house. The farmer's wife let him in and as soon as he was inside he asked her for work.

"Ask the seagulls and crows for it.
Ask the doorstep and the doorposts for it.
Ask the mice of the lintel for it.
And if you don't get it from them,
Ask me for it," said the farmer's wife.

It was not long until the farmer himself came home and he gave the boy a job at once as a calf herd.

"You will sleep on a shake-down of hay beside the fire," said the farmer's wife.

"With your permission and if you agree yourself," replied the boy, "I prefer to sleep on the bench."

"Your own will, then," she replied, testily. "Do whatever you please."

The cat was a poor skinny specimen on the hearth, singed with black, brown and yellow spots. The supper was placed on the table and the poor cat was complaining and pleading incessantly. It did not get a scrap to eat or a mouthful to drink.

That is how it was every evening. The boy was herding the calves from dawn till dusk every day. He was not getting home to see his mother and he became homesick. The farmer's wife noticed that he had grown sad, unhappy and dispirited, and she asked him what was troubling him. He told her that he was homesick as he was not getting home now and again to see his mother. The farmer gave him permission to go home once a month, on Saturday evening, and to return early on Monday morning.

When he was going home on Saturday he used to walk through the river, but when he was returning from his mother's house on Monday morning he would take the river with his running jump. One day, when he was returning to the farmer's house early on Monday morning whom should he meet but the old man!

"I notice," said the old man, "that you go across the river with your running jump when you are returning from your mother's house on Monday morning but that you walk through the water when you are going home on Saturday evening."

"Yes," replied the herd, "that is correct without any doubt, for I don't have enough strength in me to take a running jump when going home."

"Well then," said the old man, "I'll give you some advice once again and in the name of fortune see that you take my advice this time."

"Indeed I'll do that," replied the boy, "I'll certainly do that, and indeed I am sorry that I did not take your advice from the start."

"Very early tomorrow morning, then," said the old man, "you will take a calf into the kitchen before anyone in the house is up, and be pouring a pail of milk down its throat when the farmer's wife is coming in. She will say to you, 'what in the wide world is going on here, and what's the meaning of it?' and you will say, 'The calf needs its fill of milk if it is to grow big.'"

That is exactly what the herd did the next day, just as the old man told him. The farmer's wife understood what he meant and from that day onwards everybody in the house, and every beast outside, got enough to eat.

This story is from a collection of stories available on tape, with an accompanying book, under the title 'Am Bloigh Beag le Beannachd'

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The Calf Herd

1990s

oral tradition; folklore; stories; Gaelic; story telling; audio

The Highland Council

Am Bloigh Beag le Beannachd (Cassette)

This story is recorded in Gaelic and the following is an English translation.<br /> <br /> The Calf Herd.<br /> <br /> There was once a poor widow who had one son, and when this boy was about 10 years of age he said to his mother that he had now reached an age when he could be of help to his mother. So, with her permission and if she was willing that he would leave without delay.<br /> <br /> "If you are going away to look for work," his mother said to him, "you will go to the farmer and perhaps you will get work with him as a herd. And if you do, remember now not to go too far away with the cattle; and when they lie down you can come home for a little while. But if you are looking after the calves, keep an eye on them at any price."<br /> <br /> With that he got his mother's blessing. He took his leave and went away. He had not gone very far on his journey when he met a fine old man.<br /> <br /> "Indeed you are very happy, my lad," said the old man, "what fine form you are in! Where are you going today?"<br /> <br /> "I am going to the farmer," replied the boy, "to see if I can get work from him."<br /> <br /> "Well then," said the old man, "I shall give you some advice. Don't you take work except where you see the cat with good fur. That is my advice to you."<br /> <br /> "Many thanks to you," replied the boy, "I shall remember that, and indeed I will."<br /> <br /> He carried on until he came to a river that flowed through a glen. He came to the river with a running jump and in an instant he was on the far side of the river. He carried on then until he reached the farmer's house. The farmer's wife let him in and as soon as he was inside he asked her for work.<br /> <br /> "Ask the seagulls and crows for it.<br /> Ask the doorstep and the doorposts for it.<br /> Ask the mice of the lintel for it.<br /> And if you don't get it from them,<br /> Ask me for it," said the farmer's wife.<br /> <br /> It was not long until the farmer himself came home and he gave the boy a job at once as a calf herd.<br /> <br /> "You will sleep on a shake-down of hay beside the fire," said the farmer's wife.<br /> <br /> "With your permission and if you agree yourself," replied the boy, "I prefer to sleep on the bench."<br /> <br /> "Your own will, then," she replied, testily. "Do whatever you please."<br /> <br /> The cat was a poor skinny specimen on the hearth, singed with black, brown and yellow spots. The supper was placed on the table and the poor cat was complaining and pleading incessantly. It did not get a scrap to eat or a mouthful to drink.<br /> <br /> That is how it was every evening. The boy was herding the calves from dawn till dusk every day. He was not getting home to see his mother and he became homesick. The farmer's wife noticed that he had grown sad, unhappy and dispirited, and she asked him what was troubling him. He told her that he was homesick as he was not getting home now and again to see his mother. The farmer gave him permission to go home once a month, on Saturday evening, and to return early on Monday morning.<br /> <br /> When he was going home on Saturday he used to walk through the river, but when he was returning from his mother's house on Monday morning he would take the river with his running jump. One day, when he was returning to the farmer's house early on Monday morning whom should he meet but the old man!<br /> <br /> "I notice," said the old man, "that you go across the river with your running jump when you are returning from your mother's house on Monday morning but that you walk through the water when you are going home on Saturday evening."<br /> <br /> "Yes," replied the herd, "that is correct without any doubt, for I don't have enough strength in me to take a running jump when going home."<br /> <br /> "Well then," said the old man, "I'll give you some advice once again and in the name of fortune see that you take my advice this time."<br /> <br /> "Indeed I'll do that," replied the boy, "I'll certainly do that, and indeed I am sorry that I did not take your advice from the start."<br /> <br /> "Very early tomorrow morning, then," said the old man, "you will take a calf into the kitchen before anyone in the house is up, and be pouring a pail of milk down its throat when the farmer's wife is coming in. She will say to you, 'what in the wide world is going on here, and what's the meaning of it?' and you will say, 'The calf needs its fill of milk if it is to grow big.'"<br /> <br /> That is exactly what the herd did the next day, just as the old man told him. The farmer's wife understood what he meant and from that day onwards everybody in the house, and every beast outside, got enough to eat.<br /> <br /> This story is from a collection of stories available on tape, with an accompanying book, under the title 'Am Bloigh Beag le Beannachd'