Australian Folk Songs

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Shearing Song (1900)

When the sheep are soft and easy,
Then you men can get ahead ;
But with hard ones you get lazy,
All your energy has fled.
Then with illness you are shaking,
Or of your own accord
To the shed boss you are making
Some excuse to leave the board.

Shear then, boys, and don't be kelping
When there's hard sheep to be shore.
Every one you shear is helping.
To make up your tally-score.

Often, too, I see men shying
When the cobbler's in the pen.
Every little dodge you're trying,
So as to shy out of them.
Well you know it is your duty
For to take them as they run.
Though a cobbler is no beauty,
Still when shorn it counts you one.

Never try to get on faster
Than you've been accustomed to ;
Nor let laziness be master
When you have your work to do.
For, believe me, kelpers rue it ;
And no doubt you'd do the same.
Work then, boys, when you can do it--
Kelping's not a paying game.

Hamilton, S.A.
M. M. Clancy.


From the Wagga Newspaper The Worker Saturday 5 May 1900 p. 7.

The phrases "don't be kelping" and "Kelping's not a paying game" allude to the effects of alcohol on work, an effect like kelp fronds waving and wobbling about in the sea.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory