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

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