NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. VII, No. 1, Spring 1951
YORK STATE FARM LORE
Selected, edited, and written by Edith E. Cutting
Songs about farmers made up one of the smallest groups of
songs that farmers sang. They, like their neighbors in town, sang
ballads of true love and ballads of murder, ballads of the lumber
woods and of the gold rush, songs of the sea, and cowboy songs.
Many a farmer worked at another job in the winter when work
on the farm was slack, or at any season, if he needed ready money.
Many a farmer’s son went west for a year or two, or got a job in
the mines of Clinton or Essex County, or fought at Gettysburg
or in Mexico or Porto Rico, before he settled down on the home
place. From such varied experiences came a variety of songs.
Still, there were songs about farmers. One of the most popular
was “The Stone That Keeps Rolling,” a dialogue:
“Since times being so hard I hope to tell you, sweetheart,
I mean to lay aside my plow and my cart.
A trip to Wisconsin [or Michigan] a journey I go
To double my fortune as other folks do,
For whilst I labor each day in the field,
The winter consumes all the summer doth yield.”—
“O Colin, O Colin, with a sorrowful heart
I hear you’ve forsaken your plow and your cart.
Your cattle, sheep, and horse at random doth run,
While your best Sunday jacket goes every day on.
Stick to your farm; you will suffer no loss,
For the stone that keeps rolling will gather no moss.”—
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