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Feeing Fairs

Feeing Fairs

Through the "improvement" years of the early and mid 1700s in Scotland, farming developed into a labour intensive industry providing work for thousands of North East folk. Landowners leased their land in lots to farmers for agreed terms who in turn employed labourers for the seasonal work.

The workers were signed for six month working terms at the fee'ing fairs which took place in the market towns at Whitsun and Martinmas in late November. At the bigger farms, the "fairm-toons", the farmers employed a grieve as a general manager. Next in line was the ploughman, the most respected and best paid of the workers.

Then came the orra-man or cattleman and after him the general labourers and the orra-loon, a young jack of all trades. The unmarried men, the "bothy loons", lived in the farm bothy, a small, very basic building usually built on to the side of the cattle byre. Women too were appointed for set terms, usually to work in the kitchens, cooking for the farmer's family and the "bothy loons." These "kitchie deems" (kitchen dames or girls) were kept hard at work under the watchful eye of the farmer's wife.

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