There was an old woman, there was an old man,
Who never could agree;
He said he could do more work in a day
Than she could do in three.
Now said the old woman unto the old man,
"If this you will allow,
Why, you shall stay at home today
An' I'll go follow the plow.
"But you must milk the teeny cow
For fear she will go dry,
An' you must feed the little pigs
That lay within the sty.
"An' you must watch the speckled hen
For fear she'll go astray,
An' you must wind the bobbin of yarn
That I spun yesterday."
The old woman she picked up the shares
To go an' follow the plow;
The old man he picked up the pail
To milk the teeny cow.
Tenny she winked an' Teeny she blinked
An' Teeny curled up her nose,
An' give the old man such a kick in the face
That the blood streamed down to his toes.
"Whoa, Teeny, haw, Teeny,
My good little cow, stand still,
An' if ever I try to milk you again
It'll be against my will."
He went to feed the little pigs
That lay within the sty;
The old sow run up against his legs
An' knocked him ten foot high.
He went to watch the speckled hen
For fear she'd go astray,
An' forgot to wind the bobbin of yarn
That his wife spun yesterday.
He swore by the sun, he swore by the stars,
An' the green leaves on the tree,
That his wife could do more work in a day
Than he could do in three!
abc | midi | pdf
Source: Randolph, V, 1982. Ozark Folksongs, Illinois Press, Urbana
Sung by Fanny Mulhollan, Pineville, Mo., Dec 21, 1927
An American derivative of the old Scottish "John Grumble" (Kittredge). See also Campbell and Sharp; Pound (1922); Cox (1925); Eddy; Gardner and Chickering; Linscott; Belden (1940); Brewster (1940a) and the Brown collection.
Reported quite widely in tradition in Britain and Ireland; but chiefly in the USA and Canada. Found in Scotland as John Grumlie, and as The Wife of Auchtermuchty, which first appears in the Bannatyne MS (1568) as The Wyf of Auchtirmuchty. This is sometimes attributed to Sir John Moffat. Bruce Olson quotes the text, as published by Allan Ramsay in The Evergreen, 1723.
Also quoted is Ballad of A Tyrannical Husband, from a MS of the time of Henry VII, Chetham Library, Manchester.
At The Max Hunter Folk Song Collection:
Father Grumble: Mrs. Olive Coberley, Weaubleau, Missouri, 1958.
Father Grumble: Mrs. Norma Kisner, Springdale, Arkansas, 1960.
Old Daddy Grumbling: Ollie Gilbert, Mountain View, Arkansas, 1969.
At Voices from the Dust Bowl:
Father Rumble: Bill Jackson, Arvin, 1941.
Broadside editions at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:
The churlish farmer
The churlish husband turn'd nurse
The woman to the plow and the man to the hen-roost, or, A fine way to cure a cot-quean
Although these all tell essentially the same story, they are not all related to versions found in tradition.
Roud: 281 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Related Songs: The Old Man of the Woods (easily confused with)