Country Wisdom Country Wisdom Country Wisdom Country Wisdom Country Wisdom Country Wisdom

In a bygone era children growing up in the countryside would hear old country sayings that were expressions of wisdom that had been related to their fathers and their fathers before them. England before the industrial revolution was largely made up of deep-rooted country communities, which drew strength from each other, and the local sage was not just some quaint old character you might buy a drink for at the pub, but a well-respected member of the village, that people turned to in times of trouble. Many people couldn’t read or write and often these simple rhymes reminded them to live in harmony with their surrounding and to accept their simple lives that were all too often filled with hardship and sorrow.

Over the centuries tilling, sowing and harvesting the land and tending their animals taught vulnerable rural populations to respect Mother Nature and work with, rather than against, the seasons and the weather, passing on their observations, experience and wisdom to future generations. Thus proverbs, folklore and even superstition became part of everyday life and even the language.

Reading these timeless country sayings and naïve verses opens a charming gateway to the past. We have listed some of our personal favourites for you to enjoy and take a nostalgic step back in time.

 
The moon on its back – holds water in its lap
 
If the moon shows a silver shield
Be not afraid to reap your field
 

If the birds begin to sing in January Frosts are on the way
 
A storm of hail brings a frost in its tail
 
See a pin and pick it up
All day long you’ll have good luck
 

It’s going to rain when cows lie down
So hurry and seek shelter in the town
 
Rain before seven – fine by eleven
 

Red sky at night is shepherd’s delight
Red sky in the morning is shepherd’s warning
 

The blackest month of all the year
Is the month of Janiveer
 
If the grass do grow in Janiveer
It grows the worse for it all the year
 

Janiveer
Do freeze the pot upon the fire
 
A wet January a wet spring
 
If February brings no rain – ’tis neither good for grass or grain
 

In February if thou hearest thunder
Thou shalt see a summer wonder
 
Clear moon – frost soon
 
Spill salt for sorrow – spill sugar for joy
 
February fill dyke – be it black or be it white
 
A February Spring is worth nothing
 
At Candlemas Day – ’tis time to sow beans in clay
 

As the day lengthens
So the cold strengthens
 
March hack ham- comes in like a lion – goes out like a lamb
 
A peck of March dust is worth a king’s ransom
 
The early bird catches the worm
 
So many misties in March – so many frosties in May
 

If the oak be out before the ash
There’ll only be a little splash
If the ash be out before the oak
Then there’ll be a regular soak
 
Rain on Good Friday or Easter Day
A good crop of hops, but a bad one of hay
 
Easter come soon, or Easter come late
It’s sure to make the old cow quake
 
Hawthorn bloom and elder flowers
Fill the house with evil powers
 

When the elm is as big as a mouse’s ear. Then sow barley, never fear
 
Rooks only build their nests where there is money
 
In spring, hair is worth more than meat
 
April weather; rain and sunshine both together
 

If it thunder on All Fool’s Day
It brings good crops of grass and hay
 
Put salt on his tail to catch a bird
 
When April blows his horn
‘Tis good for both hay and corn
 
If the bees stay at home – rain will soon come
If they fly away – fine will be the day
 
An April flood carries away the frog and his brood
 
You might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb
 

If the cock crow when they go to bed
They’ll sure wake with a watery head
 

When you hear the cuckoo shout
‘Tis time to plant your tetties out
 
Ashen tree, ashen tree pray buy these warts off me
 
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
 
Change not a clout till May be out
 
Who doffs his coat on a winter’s day
Will gladly put it on again in May
 

Shear your sheep in May
And shear them all away
 
Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched
 
If your whipstock’s made of rowan
You may ride through any town
 

When the cuckoo sings on an empty bough
Keep your hay and sell your cow
 
Cut thistles in May – they grow in a day
Cut them in June – that is too soon
Cut them in July – they will surely die
 
A cold May and a windy – a full barn will find ye
 

Mist in May and heat in June
Brings all things into tune
 
Wash blankets in May – you’ll soon be under clay
 
One magpie for sorrow – two for mirth
Three for a wedding – four for a birth
 
June damp and warm – does the farmer no harm
 
Cider on beer – is very good cheer
Beer on cider – makes a bad rider
 
It’s no good locking the stable door after the horse has bolted
 
Mackerel sky – rain is nigh
 
A dripping June keeps all in tune
 

A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay
A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon
A swarm of bees in July is not worth a fly
 
In July shear your rye
 
St. Swithin’s Day if it do rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin’s Day an it be fair
For forty days t’will rain nae mair
 

If the 24th of August be fair and clear
Then hope for a prosperous autumn that year
 
All the tears of St. Swithen can cry
St. Bartlemy’s mantle wipes them dry
 
Fair on September first – fair for the month
 
You can take a horse to water but you cannot make him drink
 
As wet as a fish – as dry as a bone
As live as a bird – as dead as a stone
 

September blows soft
‘Till the fruits in the loft
 
September dries up wells or breaks down bridges
 

A good October and a good blast
To blow the hog, acorn and mast
 
Eat an apple on going to bed
And you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread
 
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
 
In October dung your field – and your land its wealth shall yield
 
November take flail – let no ships sail
 
If there’s ice in November that will bear a duck
There’ll be nothing after but sludge and muck
 

Plough deep, sluggards sleep
And you have corn to keep
 
A windy Christmas day – a good crop of fruit
 
Hours of sun on Christmas day
So many frosts in the month of May
 

If Christmas day be bright and clear
There’ll be two winters in that year
 
A green Yule means a full churchyard
 

Bounce buckram velvets dear
Christmas comes but once a year
When it comes it brings good cheer
And when it’s gone it’s never near